July has been littered with new fires every weekend. July 4th weekend was scary because of all the dangers that come with fireworks are enhanced by the type of fuels that are here in Idaho. I read so many statements, fliers and posters all around Shoshone Field Office about the fire hazards that would emerge this month, and boy, they weren’t kidding.
Our first full week back after the holiday, the Antelope fire roared just a half mile south of our field office. We were expecting an office day filled with data entry and low stress levels. Instead, what we interns came across, was a day full of mild panic and furious curiosity.
Working right next to the BLM fire yard, I got to see fire trucks and supply trucks being loaded, dozers being hauled out, and everyone was on their cell phones with permitees on one line and dispatch on the other line.
The fire was expected to fizzle out the night before, and resources were pulled due to another, larger fire southeast of town. Unfortunately, once the temperature outside got hotter and relative humidity went down, wind picked up and gave new life, fueling our curiosity as well.
The next week, I got the chance to see the plans for rehabilitation, plans that were drawn up from the rangeland management specialists with input from the ranchers. A new program called Rural Fire Protection Agency (RFPA) voiced their opinion on the rehab efforts as well. They make up some of the firefighting effort on BLM land, which is a huge help since BLM struggles, at times, to come up with resources, if they’re needed else where. RFPA’s may have the dozers and other machinery needed to combat the fire while getting to experience the fight and get to see what BLM has to endure on the fires as well.
This “fire culture” is so intriguing to me and maybe something I will look into after my time here. I think the science behind it is fascinating and coming together as a team to fight fire out there, I bet is so rewarding.