Increase In Outdoor Recreation In Idaho Could Increase Wildfire Risk Due To Abandoned Fires
From grabbing a drink to going to the theatre, COVID-19 means city activities are risky. Now, many people are going to the great outdoors for recreation, which could mean a potential increase in wildfire risk.
The Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center in Idaho Falls has put out more than 60 unattended or abandoned campfires this summer. The term “abandoned campfire” means anything from fires producing flames to something that gives off heat— even if it looks like ash.
“There's a large portion of folks that it's their first time camping," said Sarah Wheeler, spokesperson for Caribou-Targhee National Forest. "So, just kind of give a little bit of research, google how to do first-time camping and figure it out before you head out."
She said new campers might not know how to properly extinguish their fire, which can take up to two hours. And that could spell trouble, considering Idaho's high fire risk this summer.
“The human caused fires in our forest ... 82% of those are campfires," said Wheeler. "So, it is a huge problem for us, we're just very fortunate that those have not got into large catastrophic wildland fires.”
In order to curb the threat of wildfires, Eastern Idaho is moving into Stage 1 Fire Restrictions on Friday, August 28. That means campfires will now only be allowed in a developed fire structure, like a fire ring, in designated recreation areas.
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