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High temperatures continue into the start of September as wildfire concerns are fueled in southern Idaho

Posted at 5:47 PM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-01 19:47:00-04

KIMBERLY, Idaho — Wildfire seasons grow longer and more intense every year and with continuing heat, local fire departments are concerned for increased wildfire risk.

Record heat and drought conditions combined red flag warnings have department heads like Fire Chief Aaron Zent worried about the coming weeks.

Rock Creek Fire Department

“We did have that wetter spring than we had last year which really contributed to fuel growth so we have a lot of stuff to burn. The grasses in the south hill are tall, they’re super dry and very susceptible to ignition,” said Zent.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 6.1 million acres have burned this year and over 10,000+ personal are currently fighting fire across the U.S.

In the Case of Rock Creek fire department, the month of September sees a decrease in volunteer availability due to the start of the school year and harvest season.

“We lose some of our help that’s usually available in the summertime. Plus, some of our farmers that are volunteers are deeply involved with harvest and that sort of thing so, just our total numbers are kind of down this time of year,” said Zent.

Firefighters are now dealing with a year long fire season as opposed to an off season during the winter. Now states like California battle wildfires year round and states with similar drought conditions are trending that way.

“You plan from May to end of September really and now it’s a fire year. It’s no longer fire seasons its just year to year,” said Lieutenant Taylor Hunsaker with Rock Creek fire department.

Hunting season is under way in Idaho which means ATV's and other vehicles make their way through rural areas of the state. Fire departments across the country remind everyone to park away from dry brush as this can catch fire being close to hot exhaust pipes.

Keeping campfires well kept and making sure chains on vehicles are not dragging are other ways to prevent the start of a wildfire.

“You add this record heat that we’re currently experiencing, 100-degree days, it just potentially puts in in a very high-risk situation,” said Zent.

For more information on wildfire statistics, click here. For ways to prevent wildfires, click here.