USA — BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) – Smoke could be seen billowing south of the Boise skyline on Friday as the Black’s Creek fire burned over 200 acres of grass land. Four days later another grass fire ignited near the intersection of Cloverdale and Columbia in south Boise, burning 5 acres and threatening people’s homes.
It is only early March, so why is fire season getting such an early start. It is still technically winter, but the grass is already dry, dry enough to burn.
“The standard or the norm for fire season is June through September, but every year we’re seeing that season lengthen,” says Nick Yturri, a fire mitigation specialist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Both January and February were drier than average in southwest Idaho and we are already seeing the consequences.
“Right now with the lack of moisture we don’t have the green-up that we normally have with that new growth coming on. What we’re left with is just the dry fuels that are left from last year’s growth,” says Yturri.
The BLM owns much of the grasslands and deserts of southwest Idaho so it is usually their job to put the fires out. But most of their fire crews are seasonal, so a longer season puts a physical strain on the people, and a financial strain on the organization.
“We rely a lot on teachers and students to provide us a lot of firefighters so most of our workforce won’t even come on until late May,” says Yturri.
Until then, the BLM relies on help from other fire departments in the area to battle large blazes.
There was no lightning reported near any of these fires, so they were both started by people. If you are going into the desert, you can help prevent grass fires with just a few simple steps.
Don’t go shooting in dry grass. Instead, clear the area of brush and don’t use exploding targets. Keep your car or ATV off dry grass because hot under-carriages can spark fires.