Firefighters Get No Help From Mother Nature, Red Flag Warning Issued For Sharps Fire Region

Aug 2, 2018

Crews continue to battle the Sharps Fire near Bellevue in the Wood River Valley. The blaze has expanded to around 85 square miles.
Credit Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1

Firefighters continue making gains on the Sharps Fire burning in the Wood River Valley. However, the hundreds of people on the fire lines aren’t getting any breaks from the weather. The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the region.

Weather officials declare a red flag warning when there’s a chance of thunderstorms that could ignite dry fuels, or when the humidity is at or below 15 percent and could impact dry fuels. The link between the two criteria: those dry fuels.

For the area around the Wood River Valley where the Sharps Fire is burning, officials issued the warning due to the low relative humidity.

“It’s been shown the drier the air is, the drier your fuels are going to be,” says meteorologist Kevin Smith. “And then when the winds kick up, any fires that do start, the higher winds are going to help those fires spread fire.”

Smith works for the Pocatello office of the National Weather Service. He says humidity in the area of the Sharps Fire will hover around that critical 15 percent threshold into the weekend. Additionally, gusting winds in the region could be around 30 mph over the next few days.

According to Smith, fire officials take action when forecasters issue a red flag warning.

“They’re going to make decisions based on that information in terms of allocating resources to different parts of the region, staffing levels and having crews on standby and whatnot,” says Smith.

The Sharps fire started July 29 and is human caused. 

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