BLACKFOOT – Tuesday’s agenda for the Bingham County Commissioners included a discussion and decision regarding a potential burn ban in the county.

Historically, around this time of year the county has decided to do a burn ban in efforts to try and prevent as much unnecessary burning that could ultimately result in a wildfire. However, this year after input from both Blackfoot Fire Chief Kevin Gray and Shelley Volunteer Fire Department Chief Randy Adams, it was suggested that the county try and wait until Aug. 1 to ask for the burn ban.

Idaho Fire Info also has the Eastern Idaho Area as not needing restrictions at this time even though the area is quite dry and in a drought. The limited postings for increased fire danger and need for a burn ban falls in line with the timing from 2020 and 2019 where it was later into August when the need for the bans were apparent, leaving Gray and Adams in a spot to hope that people will take better care of everything and do what they can to prevent the sparking of a fire.

TIPS TO AVOID SPARKING A WILDFIRE

There are many different things that can be done to help limit the creation of manmade wildfires, including where people drive, smoking, campfires, and recreation.

Driving and recreation can be grouped into the same category because similar practices between the two will help prevent the start of a wildfire. First, do not drive off-road — although this may come across as common sense to many, others do not think about this until it is too late. It is such a serious issue that when farmers are harvesting grain in the late summer, trucks can often be seen lining the dirt road on the outside of the field waiting for the harvester to come and fill their beds. This is because the exhaust system on potato (grain or beets as well) trucks expel heat directly under the truck at about two feet off the ground. In a wheat field, that is directly on the stubble once the area has been harvested and creates a perfect storm for a fire to erupt. Similar situations can be found when a passenger vehicle is driving through weeds or an ATV drives through brush. The heat can ignite dead underbrush quickly.

It has to be said each year that smokers cause wildfires too. Most people have seen a smoker flick a lit cigarette butt out of their car window with little to no regard of what that could do. When a lit butt is tossed into dry and dead weeds and grass, it has the opportunity of sparking a wildfire and often is the cause of scorched portions of the median and barrow pits along the interstate. If you are a smoker, put it out, all the way out, and dispose of the butt in the ash tray until you reach a destination where the butt may be disposed of safely in a trash container.

Finally, campfires that are not put all the way out spark wildfires every year, and this year is likely to be no different. When tending a campfire, it is important to not only dump water on the coals but to make sure that they are not producing heat after all the water has been poured onto it. All it takes is one ember left lit to spark a fire.

The burn ban, although not formally adopted on July 13, appears to be an inevitability. The public is urged to take care to not spark the next wildfire in the area.

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