'We have active fires in every western region': Significant Fire Potential forecast in Idaho

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jul 01, 2021

IDAHO — The National Interagency Fire Center released its potential fire outlook for the next three months, and Idaho along with many other western states are in the Significant Fire Potential category.

“Our current situation, we are pretty busy we went to PL-4 about 10 days ago. I believe it was June 22" said Nick Nausler, National Interagency Fire Center Predictive Services. "On a scale of 1 to 5, we are on the second-highest level. We have active fires in every western region.”

A significant reason for this is drought.

“Over 91 percent of the west is in drought. Almost 56 percent are in the highest two categories, and you compare this to a year ago we have almost doubled the amount of area in drought," Nausler said. We went from two percent of the United States in extreme and exceptional drought to nearly 56 percent of the region in drought. So, quite a substantial increase and expansion of drought over the last year and especially the last couple of months."

In Idaho, currently, 99% of the state is in drought compared to this time last year it was at 10%.

“Warm and dry spring has really exacerbated the drought conditions," Nausler said.

A few other reasons include increased activity on our public lands, widespread fire activity putting stress on the system, and conditions building off of last year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is predicting above-normal temperatures for our area with below-normal precipitation totals for the next three months. There's no relief in sight.

“For July above significant fire potentials are forecasted for the entire state of Idaho and our partners or neighboring states are also going to have significant fire potentials for July, August and lingering into September," Nausler said.

According to the NIFC, just this year, more than 300 human-caused wildfires have burned more than 8,800 acres of land in the Gem State.

This is why the fire and land agencies in Idaho and across the western United States are urging people to take every step necessary to prevent human-caused wildfires.

"Please recreate responsibly, protect our firefighters, protect our natural resources, know where you are at, and be prepared," said Josh Harvey, Idaho Department of Lands Fire Management Bureau Chief.

“Nearly 9 out of 10 wildfires are human-caused," Ben Newburn, U.S Forest Service Intermountain Region Director of Fire and Aviation Management said. "Last year we saw a dramatic increase in visitation to our public lands resulting in a significant increase in human-caused fires, including abandoned and escaped campfires. These fires are 100 percent preventable.”