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00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71c90000Idaho's wildfire season is here, and that means you're going to be hearing a lot of firefighting jargon to describe what's going on.We put together this list of key firefighting terms you're likely to hear in the next few months.GlossaryHotshots: A highly trained hand crew of wildland firefighters that works on the ground to contain a blaze. Crews usually operate in 20-person teams, and are sent in first to deal with the worst fire conditions on short notice. Hotshots have a high level of physical fitness. They can carry up to 50 pounds along with a chainsaw and shovel. There are more than 100 hotshot crews around the country, and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise coordinates the crews.Hand crew: Wildland firefighters that could have different levels of training. They work on the ground with hand tools like shovels, chainsaws and axes. They dig fire lines (also called "firebreaks") to try and get the fire under control.Smokejumper: An elite firefighter that parachutes into remote wildland fires. They work to suppress and put out fires before they become a bigger problem, and can adapt to quickly changing situations. Smokejumpers have to be fit and highly trained. They carry heavy packs and protective suits and work in mountainous terrain. Idaho has three smokejumping bases in Boise, McCall and Grangeville.Fire lines or firebreaks: Usually about 10-12 feet wide, fire lines are cut with shovels and axes to contain and suppress a blaze. Hand crews -- including hotshots -- will dig lines and clear out brush so the fire will get choked off without fuel.Containment levels: The agency that manages a fire will say how "contained" a fire is. At 100 percent containment a fire isn't out. That means a complete fire line has been dug around the fire. A contained fire can quickly become out of control again with a shift in weather.Controlled fire: This is when a wildfire is considered out. Here's how the BLM office in Idaho Falls describes it: "Think of a container -- say, a mason jar. A fire is contained when it's all 'bottled in,' like in a container. The fire may still be burning, but if a distinct fire line is built around the entire perimeter so that there is no chance for the fire to escape or spot over outside the line, then the fire fighters declare the fire 'contained.' "Human caused: This means someone accidentally or intentionally caused a fire. This could be from a discarded cigarette, a embers from a campfire, or even sparks from a truck along a forested highway. As Smokey says, nine times out of 10, a wildfire is human-caused.Fire danger: This is a rating system from the U.S. Forest Service that helps predict how likely a wildfire could start in an area. It takes into account the weather forecast, terrain and personnel. "Low" means a blaze would likely not spread, while "moderate" means a fire could start but could be contained. "High" to "very high" means fires can catch and spread easily, while "extreme" means the conditions are so difficult and fast-changing that fighting the blaze directly is rare.Red flag warning: These warning are issued by regional National Weather Service offices, and help firefighting management teams understand the weather-related risks for fire starts. Drought and low humidity mixed with windy conditions usually spell a red flag warning. Burning bans sometimes come along with these warnings.Complex: Two or more larger wildfires in the same general area. A complex is managed by a unified team of firefighters.Air attack: Usually used during the initial stages of a small blaze, or as a suppression tool during large fires. Air attacks can drop fire retardant or water to help support hand and engine crews. Multi-engine or heavy air tankers, single-engine air tankers, and helicopters are the three most common types of aircraft that can be used. Multi-engine tankers carry the most retardant, while helicopters (or helitankers) can make more precise but smaller drops.Fire retardant: Also known as slurry, these USDA-approved chemicals are dropped by aircraft over wildfires that management teams believe could grow and become dangerous. It's often used to protect private property. A 2010 ruling from the U.S. District Court in Montana raised questions about its environmental effects.Incident management teams: Operating from level one through five, these teams of firefighters can be sent around the country to suppress fires. Type 1 and 2 IMT's often work on the most difficult and dangerous fires, and can include local firefighting resources.ResourcesWe also pulled together these key resources where you can find up-to-date information about wildfires.The National Interagency Fire Center coordinates fire management teams around the country, and is based in Boise. This year, NIFC predicted a higher level of fire danger in Idaho forests, while the grassland should get a bit of a break.The Bureau of Land Management's site will update Idahoans about fire restrictions on public land.InciWeb updates fire information around the country, giving handy info about road closures during the summer travel season. You'll also find maps, photos, and growth potential for a particular fire.And if you tweet, consider following these organizations and agencies for fire updates in 140 characters.

Update: Pioneer Fire Officials Reinsate Level Two Evacuation For Lowman Residents

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Mike McMillan
/
inciweb.gov
Black Mountain Hotshots on the northwest flank of the Pioneer Fire.

Update Monday at 8:02 a.m.: An evacuation notice for  the town of Lowman that was downgraded yesterday has been raised back up.

The Boise County Sheriff yesterday evening re-implemented a level two evacuation for Lowman after having lowered it to a level one one earlier in the day. Level two is still a voluntary evacuation. The heightened alert comes after winds pushed the Pioneer fire further north.

Update Sunday at 2:00 p.m.: The Boise National Forest reports evacuation levels for Lowman have been lowered from Level 2 to Level 1. There is a community meeting tonight for the Pioneer Fire in Lowman at the Lowman EMS Building at 7.

And Idaho Highway 21 is open from Stanley to Lowman. Drivers should expect delays and if fire activity picks up, crews will start using a pilot car. Highway 21 is still closed from Lowman to Idaho City. A pilot car has taken residents evacuating from Lowman to Idaho City on Highway 21. 

The Pioneer Fire has burned 95 square miles. There are 1,636 people on the fire. 

A Red Flag Warning, or high fire danger warning, has been issued for the Pioneer Fire Sunday until 6 p.m. Thunderstorms with 40 mph winds are possible.

Another fire, the Dry Creek Fire, started Saturday in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It was started by a lightning storm. Stanley Lake Campground has been evacuated.

Update Friday at 5:20 p.m.: The Boise National Forest is reporting that anyone wanting to evacuate Lowman will be allowed to use Idaho Highway 21, following a pilot car.

Update 4:45 p.m.: The Idaho Transportation Department says the two main routes to Lowman from Boise are now closed. Idaho 21 was already closed down due to the Pioneer Fire from Lowman to Idaho City. Firefighters have been using the highway as a fire break.

Now the Banks-Lowman Road (Highway 17) is closed from Pine Flats to Lowman, thanks to a spot fire. That was the detour route drivers were using to get around the Highway 21 closure.

ITD says both roads will remain closed until further notice.

Travelers heading to Lowman or beyond should use Idaho 75 through the Wood River Valley.

Original Post:

The Boise National Forest is reporting that Boise County has issued a Level 2 Evacuation Notice for Lowman proper. That includes homes south of the river.

A Level 2 notice means residents need to get ready to move, as the Pioneer Fire threatens the town.

The notice includes Deadwood campground and Pine Flat Campground.

And Highway 17, that's the Banks to Lowman road, is closed at Gallagher creek west of Lowman while firefighters respond to a spot fire north of the South Fork of the Payette River. That's the detour drivers have been using since Highway 21 was closed down between Idaho City and Lowman.

Here's the full update on the evacuation notice from the national fire website, InciWeb:

Level 2 evacuations are in effect form Gallagher Creek to Kirkham Hot Springs, north and south of the South Payette River. This includes Deadwood Campground, Pine Flats Campground and Lowman proper. Highway 17 is closed at Gallagher Creek, near the old Rattlesnake Lodge about 7 miles east of Garden Valley. Level 2 evacuations are voluntary, but highly recommended. This evacuation has been issued by Boise County Sheriffs' Office. The fire has crossed Highway 17, air resources are on scene.

The Pioneer Fire has burned 81 square miles and is 27 percent contained.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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