The Four Corners Fire burning near Cascade has now scorched nearly 8,000 acres, or about 12.5 square miles, as of Monday morning. Four percent of the perimeter of the fire is now contained.
The Valley County Sheriff's Office initiated the "READY, SET, GO" evacuation stages for some areas Thursday night as the fire breached the ridge and moved toward homes. This order is still in place and updates are being posted on the Valley County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.
The fire was caused by lightning and is located about a half mile north of Lookout Point, two miles west of Cascade.
The Valley County Sheriff's Office will be sending out emergency notifications through CodeRED and you should sign up to stay informed. Officials say the cause is to be determined but is likely a holdover from thunderstorms on Thursday.
We've rounded up some resources to make sure you're prepared:
- Wildfires in the West right now
- Outlook maps
- Air quality monitoring
- Power outages
- How to protect your home
- Evacuation tips
- Additional resources
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.
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 July, August, September and October of 2022.
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.
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)
- 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:
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 greater wildfire risk than 94% of states in the U.S.
When it comes to evacuations during 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.
- Sign up for the Idaho State Alert and Warning System
- Here's a handy glossary of firefighting terms
- Idaho Fire Information has details from the Bureau of Land Management
- InciWeb updates fire information around the country, giving handy info about road closures during the summer travel season.
- The Idaho Department of Lands' site will update Idahoans about fire restrictions on public land.
- The National Interagency Fire Center coordinates fire management teams around the country, and is based in Boise.
Researchers found that those wildfires increase the “occurrences of heavy precipitation rates by 38%” in our region, according to their work in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A new study shows wildfires are burning more high-elevation areas, and that’s impacting the snowpack across the West.
“We're trying to make it easy for non-experts to find and use decision-relevant federal data to map and understand their exposure to climate-related hazards,” says Tom DiLiberto, a climate scientist at the NOAA Climate Program Office.
The evacuation order for houses in Smiley Creek was downgraded Thursday as rain continues to dampen the Ross Fork Fire, which is now 28% contained.
The world of wildland firefighting has a lot of wonky lingo. But one key phrase is “fuel moisture” — and no, we’re not talking about oil and gas.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a massive wildfire and drought response bill last week mostly along party lines. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. The package comprises more than 40 previously introduced bills. It would authorize $500 million for forest management projects, including prescribed fire, and it would pump another $500 million into the Interior Department's efforts to "reduce the near-term likelihood of Lake Mead and Lake Powell declining critically low water elevations."
A paper out of the University of Utah shows that plume heights are increasing more than 300 feet every year in mountain ranges in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new $1 billion grant program this week to help communities facing wildfire risks. Grants for wildfire protection planning or outreach can be up to $250,000. Affiliated infrastructure and resilience projects can get grants of up to $10 million.
Much of the Mountain West is in the midst of a heat wave, but what does that mean for wildfires? The National Interagency Fire Center forecasters say it depends on what happens next. Extreme heat can dry out fuels, starting with grass and brush and then drying out trees. If that’s followed by more hot, windy weather and thunderstorms, that’s a recipe for more wildfires.
Here's a list of key firefighting terms you're likely to hear in the next few months as we navigate Idaho's wildfire season.