Idaho governor warns of 'mega-fires,' urges public help

Idaho governor warns of 'mega-fires,' urges public help
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Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) is warning of mega-fires that could potentially impact the state this summer and is asking the public to help prevent them.

Little conducted a press conference on Tuesday at the  National Interagency Fire Center with state and federal fire managers to underscore the potential threat fires could pose to the state. 

“My fear is that we will have some of these great big mega-fires that start creating their own weather, like the one that is over in Oregon, where I think a lot of this smoke is coming from, that basically endanger communities, they endanger firefighters, they endanger precious wildlife and watershed capacity,” Little said. 

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Areas of the state are under Stage I and Stage II fire restrictions with more areas expected to be added as hot, dry conditions increase the threat of fires. 

“Idaho has been fortunate in recent years to avoid the devastating kind of fire seasons other states have faced, but this year could be different,” Little said.

“On top of extreme drought in many parts of Idaho, we are in the middle of a prolonged, regional excessive heat wave. Fires burning in other states are putting strain on the availability of firefighting resources across the West,” he added.

Last week, the governor signed an emergency declaration to invoke the National Guard for the state’s fire response. 

Wildfires have begun to break out early after a historic heatwave hit the West in June. The historic heatwave coupled with a low winter snowpack has concerned several states who are bracing for a vicious wildfire season. 

“We are seeing unprecedented wildfire conditions in Idaho right now with no relief from extremely hot, dry conditions in the forecast,” Idaho Department of Lands Director Dustin Miller said. 

“The biggest issue we face right now is extremely limited resources to manage these fires, including a lack of aircraft and crews on the ground. We typically tap into our shared resources during these times, but they have very limited availability due to fires in our neighboring states. The public can help by avoiding any outdoor activity that could spark a human-caused fire,” he added.

Little said residents need to be careful to not unintentionally cause wildfires that could put strains on the state’s resources.