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Lessons learned will help prepare for next wildfire season

By Liz Cosgrove
Published On: Sep 24 2012 07:38:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 25 2012 12:04:25 PM CDT

Tips on helping you prepare for next wildfire season.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

Dry lightning storms and human-related causes have sparked more than 600 wildfires on federal land this year alone.

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said he hopes the lessons learned this year from the wildfire season will help better prepare us for the 2013 year. And the Bureau of Land Management of eastern Idaho is already preparing.

The Bureau of Land Management wants to make sure federal land is well protected. But they're also giving homeowners tips on reducing the risk of fires sparking on their private land.

This wildfire season has been nothing but a battlefield.

"Firefighters are doing such a good job. They're doing the best they can to protect people and protect resources," said Sarah Wheeler, the Public Affairs Specialist for the Bureau of Land Management.

The Trinity-Mustang-Halstead fires are costing more than $90 million, with thousands of firefighters to battling the blazes.

It's taken a drain on Idaho communites statewide and this is why the Bureau of Land Management is planning ahead.

"You can think of fire, as a fire triangle essentially.  You need heat, you need oxygen, and you need a fuel. And if you remove one of those three components then you're able to stop the wildfire from progressing," said Wheeler.

And fuels are the easiest targets to go after, especially during the offseason. That's why the BLM has fuel-reduction projects planned.

"We'll do it over a five years span. We use chainsaws to reduce the fuel loading, then those piles will have to sit for a year or two to dry out, and then in the wintertime you can come in and burn those piles," said Wheeler.

The BLM will be continuously looking for new fuel projects, especially spots of juniper trees in the Snake River Plain.

"They burn hot and fast, so we'll cut out some of the juniper to increase fuel break," said Wheeler.

But the BLM is also here to help you protect your home and property against wildfires.

"Removing some of the understory, replacing their shake roofs with metal roofs," said Wheeler.

Even keeping firewood away from your home can help reduce the risks of a fire.

"Simple things like that can go a long way," said Wheeler.

The BLM is armed with pamphlets and booklets ready to help you prepare for the worst. You can contact the BLM Idaho Falls District at (208) 524-7500. Also, you can go to firewise.org to learn about more tips to help prevent your home against wildfires.

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