BOISE -- The Boise National Forest is ahead of last year in placing restrictions on campfires and smoking in that entire forest, and they say it's because fire danger is extremely high.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions go into effect in southwest and central Idaho on August 1. Last year, the Boise National Forest instituted state one restrictions in part of the forest on July 19, but didn't do the entire forest until August 10.
"For this time of year compared to last year, we are ahead of schedule in terms of acres burned and also cost to date," Bob Shindelar, Boise National Forest Fire Chief, said.
Shindelar says this year has already been rough in the forest, and with extremely dry timber from a mild winter and hot summer, their measurements show it's likely more fires will start.
"When we look at energy release component, which is a measure of moisture in our vegetation, both live and dead fuels. Right now we're at 81. On average, we should be at 67 this time of year. So we're 14 points ahead of schedule," Shindelar said.
In fact, he says the forest is approaching the record on that particular fire danger scale.
"So when we have large fires, or if we have fires right now, the resistance to control those fires is going to be very high. It's going to take additional firefighting resources in terms of hand crews, fire engines, helitack crews, and air tankers to bring those fires under control," Shindelar said.
Boise District Bureau of Land Management firefighters, who often cover areas like rangeland and the foothills, are facing the same concerns going into August, though compared to last year by this time, they've had fewer fires start.
As of August 1, in 2013 there have been 62 fires start on Boise District BLM land. By this time in 2012, there had been 89. The 5-year average is 50 by August 1.
Also better than last year, and the recent average, far fewer acres have burned.
As of August 1, in 2013, 9,394 acres have burned on Boise District BLM land. By this time in 2012, 143,900 had burned, and the 5-year average by August 1 is 33,434.
"We've been really fortunate this year in that we haven't had the large number of lightning strikes that we've had in the past. We haven't had days with multiple fire starts, which are very fortunate. And we've had a lot of resources around too to help us out," Andy Delmas, Boise District BLM Fire Chief, said.
Preparing for August and what both the Forest Service and BLM consider extreme conditions for fire starts and firefighting, they've got crews here already from Utah, Nevada, California and other parts of the country.
For more on Stage 1 Fire Restrictions going into effect August 1, click here.