BOISE, Idaho — While Idaho is at relatively low risk for natural hazards, the most common -- and most severe -- is wildfires.
In 2020, the Bureau of Land Management's Idaho Falls District reported a total of 150 wildfires. Of those, 130 were listed as "human-caused," burning over 14,000 acres of land.
Last year's fire season was considered fairly mild, but this year's season could start much earlier than anticipated. Fire experts say a dry spring created a higher fuel load, and despite recent rain, a major warm-up will quickly dry those fuel loads and make them a wildfire hazard once again.
BLM Boise officials say they're expecting the worst but hoping for the best in regards to Idaho wildfires.
"We want the public to be aware this year that it has been a dry spring and that even though we are getting a little bit of rain, it will dry up pretty quickly, and you’re probably not going to see too much green-up or grass crop up from these little couple days of rain so if you’re out burning on private lands, just be careful," said Jared Jablonski, spokesperson for BLM Boise.
So, what can you do to protect your property?
FEMA notes the biggest hazard is wind-blown embers, and even if your property isn't at risk of catching fire, you should still prepare for poor air quality. The CDC has a list of recommendations to protect your eyes, respiratory system, heart, and lungs.
Preparing a go-bag ahead of time is also highly encouraged. FEMA recommends including:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Manual can opener (for food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
As you prepare for wildfire season, Jablonski says BLM officials are busy preparing as well.
"We have several fuel spray projects that we're working on along road systems in order to create areas where we can keep fires from starting as well as catching larger fires, safely and more effectively."