Feb 27, 2024

Idaho under significant fire danger as blazes occur throughout state

A photo from the recent Tyson Fire which burned in Benewah County in north Idaho.

Nearly all territories under Idaho Department of Lands fire protection jurisdiction are currently in very high or extreme fire danger.

In a news release sent out this week, the department said crews have fought 172 fires this summer, most of which are human-caused or are being investigated as human-caused. Hot summer temperatures across the state have resulted in drier conditions and increased fire danger, the news release stated.

All the while there are currently some significant fires taking place regionally, two of which are burning at over 20,000 acres.

The Elkhorn Fire, which is burning 22,361 acres at 0% containment, is unfolding in Idaho County, northeast of McCall and just west of the Bitterroot Mountain Range in the central portion of the state. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.

Additionally, the Hayden Fire in the Lemhi mountain range just south of Salmon is burning at a 21,977-acre clip and is at 47% containment. There have been 14 injuries reported from the blaze.

There is also a sizable fire in north Idaho far east of Lewiston, where the Little Bear Fire has burned 1,346 acres and is 15% contained in the Clearwater Mountains and Clearwater National Forest.

Overall, the Department of Lands is reporting eight wildfires currently taking place in the state, all burning at varying sizes and all north and northwest of the Treasure Valley.

A helicopter takes fire-prevention measures during the recent Greer Fire near Orofino in north Idaho.

With that said, local air quality is taking a hit. A Yellow Air Quality Advisory was issued Wednesday evening by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. The advisory signifies moderate levels of negative air impact and implements outdoor burn restrictions in Ada and Canyon county cities as well as unincorporated areas of Ada County.

Aside from asking residents to not burn outdoors, the Department of Environmental Quality is also requesting people limit their driving and combine trips and errands.

“Models show light to moderate impacts over the next few days due to regional wildfire activity including Oregon and Idaho fires,” Regional Airshed Coordinator Michael Toole wrote in an email to the Idaho Press.

The Idaho Department of Lands is also asking individuals to use caution at the moment as it pertains to fire risk, as “a spark in dry conditions can start and carry a fire a long-distance, putting communities at greater risk for catastrophic fires,” the news release stated.

Currently, just one area of the state is under fire restrictions, according to the IDL. The Central Idaho Fire Restrictions Area, which encompasses Salmon and part of the Sawtooth Mountain Range, is currently in Stage 1 fire restrictions. The news release stated that more areas could come under restrictions in various parts of the state in the coming weeks.

Stage 1 puts restrictions on a number of fire-hazard activities, including things such as building and using campfires and smoking outdoors.

The release also stated that individuals who do have a campfire in a non-restricted area during this time should only use a fire ring and clear all debris away from it. Additionally, people need to put all fires dead out before going to bed or leaving a campsite.

"Idahoans and tourists recreating in areas without fire restrictions need to use extra caution and avoid activities that could spark a fire," IDL's Fire Management Bureau Chief Josh Harvey said in the news release.

Other fire prevention tips provided by IDL include never parking vehicles or ATV/UTVs over dry grass; carrying water and a shovel when hitting the trails; and securing chains on trailers and making sure tires are in good shape to avoid flats.

The department also pointed out that sparks along a roadway can start fires for several miles.

Originally published on, part of the BLOX Digital Content Exchange.

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