By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
As temperatures soar this week and the drought continues, Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued an emergency declaration related to wildfire Friday.
Little also mobilized Idaho National Guard firefighters and aircraft to assist in the effort.
Northern areas of the state have reported fires starting due to lightning strikes. The Dixie-Jumbo Fire, 15 miles south of Elk City, started July 5 and had burned more than 11,000 acres, as of Thursday.
The Forest Service reports that hot, dry, windy conditions will peak on Sunday, potentially exacerbating the problem.
The emergency declaration authorizes Idaho National Guard personnel with fire line qualifications to work on active wildfires and for other personnel to support fire logistic activities. The declaration also makes National Guard aircraft resources available for firefighting.
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning with dangerously high temperatures across most of Idaho, up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and 60s to 70s at night. NWS also has red flag fire warnings in place for the Snake River Valley due to expected wind gusts of up to 35 mph and low humidity.
Because of the large number of fires burning across the West, there are diminished resources for fighting fires. Extreme fire conditions are now reported at or exceeding all-time maximum levels, and weather forecasts indicate no break in fire weather conditions in the weeks ahead. His office reported some fire restrictions may be implemented by local officials in coming days.
The Idaho Office of Emergency Management is prepared to help with activating National Guard resources for fire suppression.
“Wildfire is presenting an imminent threat to life, property, and the environment, and we need all hands on deck,” Little said through a press release. “I appreciate our firefighters and fire managers for working so hard under such challenging conditions, and I am grateful that our guardsmen are able to step in once again to support Idaho communities. I want to thank Idahoans for doing their part to prevent wildfires during a season where Idaho is particularly vulnerable to human-caused wildfires.”
Information on fire restrictions is available at 1-844-ID-FIRES or 1-844-433-4737. For specifics on exemptions, frequently asked questions, and more, see the Idaho Fire Restrictions Plan. Find out more about fire restrictions at www.idl.idaho.gov.