Fire season is here, and the problem is us

We like to think we’re safe and responsible with fire, but statistics show that’s not the case. This data came from federal land managers.

Even with the recent lightning storms, the majority of fires this season have been human-caused. “Approximately 80% of the fires on the Boise District this season have been the result of human activity,” said Carrie Bilboa, Bureau of Land Management’s lead fire investigator Carrie Bilbao. “As we progress further into the hot summer months, it is important to be cautious during any activity that might spark a wildfire.”

So let’s flip that. If we eliminate human-caused fires, that would cut the fire starts by 80 percent, and free up lots of fire fighters to put out the fires started by lightning.

Even cutting human-caused fire starts by half would significantly reduce the amount of resources and effort required to put them out, not to mention reducing risk to fire fighters.

Last year, 228 abandoned campfires were found on the Boise National Forest — an average of nearly 300 campfires are found each year that have not been put out correctly, according to Ellen Dunlap fire prevention officer for the Boise National Forest.

Here are some basic campfire tips from the Forest Service:
• Pour a lot of water on the fire. (It may take several gallons.)
• Stir with a stick.
• Pour more water on the fire making sure to cover the outer edges by the rock fire ring.
• Stir again.
• Feel to see if there is any remaining heat. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

People often throw dirt on the fire, she said. Dirt holds the heat. This is not the way to put the fire out.
Putting a small amount of water on the fire, for example pouring a couple of bottles of water on it, is not enough either.

Posted in Into the Outdoors