As mornings become colder and trees begin to lose leaves, many hope that fall, and the end of fire season, is right around the corner.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the states currently reporting large fires are Montana with 25 fires, Oregon with 17 fires, California with eight fires, Washington with seven fires, Idaho with four fires, Colorado with three fires, Wyoming with two fires, Nevada with one fire and Utah with one fire, with five new large fires being reported as of Sept. 11.
At this time, the fires have taken over one million acres of land.
The biggest fire in Idaho is the Highline fire, 28 miles southeast of Afton, ID. Flames have consumed over 82 thousand acres of land in the Payette National Forest.
The Bearskin fire, located 21 miles north of Lowman, is the second biggest fire in Idaho currently. Over 28 thousand acres of land in the Boise National Forest have been consumed by the flames.
Both fires show no signs of stopping, and neither of them have been contained, even partially.
The Denver Post reports the biggest obstacle for firefighters is the large number of dead trees in the Western U.S.
These trees cause a safety hazard, since they collapse more easily than living trees, causing some firemen to shift tactics.
U.S. Forest Service statistics compiled for The Associated Press show that about 6.3 billion dead trees are still standing in 11 western states, up from 5.8 billion five years earlier.
The Forest Service says about 20 percent of those dead trees were likely killed by a massive beetle outbreak.
Beetles have been a major problem in forests since the beginning of the century. In the past 17 years, two dozen species of beetles have killed trees on nearly 85,000 square miles in the Western U.S. — an area about the size of Utah.
In Elmore County, a burn ban is still in effect, including campfires and backyard fire pits.
People with heart or lung disease as well as children and older adults are encouraged to reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor activities and exertion.
With the large amount of fires in the Western U.S., it's important to brush up on fire safety.
Campfires are a major cause of damaging forest fires, so take heed of the following tips after the burn ban has been lifted.
Pick Your Spot Wisely: Use existing fire circles or pits if available. Do not build a fire in dry or windy conditions, especially if there are fire restrictions in place (check with local authorities). Build fires at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs, or other flammable materials.
Prepare Your Pit: Choose a spot for your campfire that is downwind from your tent and gear, and protected from wind gusts. Clear a 10-foot-wide diameter area around your site, and make sure there are no limbs or branches hanging over your pit. Always circle the pit with rocks.
Build A Campfire: Once you have a prepared pit, you are ready to build the campfire. It is recommended to use three types of wood. Tinder, which is made of small twigs, dry leaves or grass, will get the fire started initially. Kindling, consisting of twigs smaller than one inch around, will help to light the larger pieces of wood. Fuel—the large pieces of wood—will provide the heat and sustained flames once the tinder and kindling are consumed.
Extinguish the fire: Campers need to properly maintain and extinguish campfires when going to bed or leaving the area.
If possible, let the campfire burn down to ashes. Pour water on the fire to drown all embers, not just the red ones. Once this is done, stir everything in the pit with a shovel and test for heat with the back of your hand.
American Red Cross encourages parents and homeowners to install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
Be sure to test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
Discuss a fire escape plan with all family or household members and practice the plan twice a year.
If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.