McCall, ID - Thirty-eight wildfires have been managed by the Payette National Forest so far this summer. Due to the fast and effective initial attack of our fire crews only four of these incidents have warranted a Type 3 Incident Management Team and these four were brought under control in short order by a combination of forest fire crews, local fire districts, air attack resources and help from neighboring forests. While the forest has experienced below average fire seasons for the last four years this fire season is heating up and trending towards an average fire season.
“We have critical conditions below 6,000 feet in elevation on both sides of the forest, with fire danger indices particularly high,” said Francis Russo, PAF Fire Dispatch Technician. “We’ve not seen numbers in the beginning of August like this since 2007.”
These conditions make initial attack tougher than normal so that when a fire starts it is hard to control and spreads fast. This was the case with the two largest fires this season. Both on the west side of the forest, the Roadside Fire burned 2100 acres and the Lone Pine Fire burned 2800 acres in grass and shrubs-especially flammable materials in these extremely hot and dry conditions. Both of these human-caused fires spread fast and necessitated multiple aerial resources, the use of fire retardant, and many ground resources. Even the higher country above 6000 feet is starting to dry out on south facing slopes. Eleven human-caused fires have burned 5,946 acres while 27 lightning fires have burned 100 acres. The hot dry areas on the west side of the forest are producing larger fires.
“Particularly troubling is that 11 of our 38 wildfires have been human-caused fires,” said Randy Skelton, Deputy Fire and Aviation Staff Officer. “These are preventable sources of wildfire and the public plays a key part in our efforts to prevent these types of wildfire. Please be especially careful with any possible ignition source and call the authorities if you see smoke where it shouldn’t be.”
“Lightning fires continue to be a concern as we come into the active lightning season and our ability to catch these fires diminishes as the conditions continue to dry out. Fire managers monitor the conditions daily and bring in additional resources for stand-by in order to be better prepared for responding to numerous fires at any given time,” added Skelton.
Areas of the Payette National Forest in Washington County remain in Stage One Fire Restrictions including:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire except within a designated recreation site, or on their own land, and only within an owner-provided structure.
Go to http://www.idahofireinfo.blm.gov/southwest/firerestrictions.htm for details.