© 2024 Boise State Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Your guide to Idaho's wildfire season

Dark smoke rises above a line of trees with mountains visible on the right side of the picture.
Brad Washa
Boise National Forest

Your guide to Idaho's wildfire season

As temperatures creep up and isolated thunderstorms hit the mountains, Idaho's wildfire season is just around the corner. From air quality concerns to evacuations, wildfires impact pretty much everyone.

We've rounded up some resources to make sure you're prepared:

Current wildfires

A new interactive map by the Western Fire Chiefs Association aims to provide the latest information on wildfires in the west. The map shows fires on state and federal land, but the creators hope to fill in gaps by pulling data from 911 dispatch via PulsePoint.

In some rural areas prone to wildfires internet connections can be weak, so they prioritized a map that could load quickly. It can help people know when to evacuate an area or check up on livestock.

Fire Risk Index

The Fire Risk Index compares an area's relative fire risk with that of the entire United States. When assigning the score, FEMA considers three factors:

  • Wildfire exposure quantifies a community's building value and population who are at risk of experiencing a wildfire
  • Wildfire annualized frequency estimates the number of wildfires that will take place in the community per year
  • Historic loss ratio projects the percentage of buildings or population that is expected to be lost in a wildfire

National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlooks

The National Interagency Fire Center published its Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook maps below to show cumulative wildfire forecasts for June, July, August and September of 2023.

Air quality monitoring

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has compiled information on smoke and air quality on its website. Those include:

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is the United States Environmental Protection Agency's index for reporting air quality. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and health concern.
The AQI is divided into six categories and each category corresponds to a different level of health concern.


Power outages

Wildfires can sometimes cause power outages before or during the threat of fire. Preparation ahead of these emergencies helps prioritize safety during an outage in the heat of summer.

Idaho Power suggests putting together a Summer Outage Kit in case you lose power. Here's what they recommend you put in your kit:

  • Bottled water (five gallons per person)
  • Matches
  • Blankets
  • Non-perishable food (canned food, crackers, etc.)
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Baby food or formula and diapers
  • Pet food
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Battery- or solar-powered chargers for your devices
  • Battery-powered radio and clock, flashlight and fans
  • Extra batteries
  • A block of ice in the freezer

How to protect your home

In 2021, the United States had 58,985 wildfires, resulting in a total of 3,577 homes being destroyed, according to data from the National Interagency Coordination Center.

Wildfires are often uncontrolled and dangerous, and for a homeowner in a high-risk area, it’s easy to feel helpless in protecting their property. However, homeowners can take action by taking a few safety measures:

A graphic demonstrating firewise planting.
National Interagency Fire Center

If you're still unsure about protecting your home, you can get a free wildfire home safety evaluation from your local fire officials.

How to prepare for evacuation

On average, Idaho's populated areas have a greater wildfire risk than 94% of states in the U.S.

When it comes to evacuations during the threat of wildfire, that puts the emphasis on leaving early to avoid congestion and free up roadways for fire crews and personnel.

Here are some tips for evacuation:

  • Have an evacuation bag ready to go
  • Shut all windows and doors
  • Remove flammable window shades, curtains and close metal shutters
  • Move flammable furniture away from windows and doors
  • Shut off gas at the meter
  • Leave your interior and exterior lights on so firefighters can see your house under smoky conditions
  • Shut off the air conditioning
  • Gather flammable items outside and bring them inside or place them in a pool if you have one
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Move propane appliances away from your home
  • Connect garden hoses to outside water valves for fighters to use
  • Don't leave sprinklers on or water running, they can affect water pressure
  • Find your pets and keep them nearby
  • Prepare farm animals for transport and think about moving them to a safe location early


We also pulled together these key resources where you can find up-to-date information about wildfires.

Wildfire stories