BOISE – A string of temperatures above 100-degrees and a wildland fire near Centerville has put Idaho Department of Lands fire crews to the test.
The Thompson Fire was reported Tuesday. Despite burning in grass, fir and ponderosa pine trees, the fire was kept small. But the blaze exposed fire crews to life on the fire line at about as hot as it gets.
When it comes to fire behavior, an extra 10 degrees of heat makes monitoring even a contained fire more critical. In these conditions, low humidity and hot sun can bring remaining fine fuels closer to the point of ignition. That means hot spots have a higher chance of smoldering and popping into flame.
The nights are warm as well, with low temperatures up to 70 degrees. That’s not low enough to cool things down or help prevent areas from flaring up.
To stay prepared for additional fires during the extreme heat, fire managers are taking extra steps to keep wildland fire crews safe. Hydration is very important. Crews are instructed to hydrate overnight, before they even arrive on a fire, avoid energy drinks and alcohol, and eat food that supports hydration.
“Even with all of this extreme heat, we are still working to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Bryan Durkin, one of IDL’s Assistant Fire Wardens. “We’re keeping units separated from other units, spreading out, and wearing masks when riding in vehicles. While working on the fire line, our crew follows social distancing guidelines as much as possible.”
Thompson Fire facts:
• Reported July 28 at 6:43 p.m.
• Burned about a half-acre in grass, fir and ponderosa pine trees on private land within the IDL’s Southwest Forest Protective District, one of 12 districts in the state.
• The Centerville Volunteer Fire Department and IDL’s Engine 6 fire crew were assisted by planes dropping fire retardant and a 20-person crew on loan from the nearby Golden Fire.
• The fire was contained at about midnight on the same day it started, July 28
• The Engine 6 crew spent the night on the fire and will continue returning to work hot spots until the fire is completely out.