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BLM asking public to do their part in preventing human-caused wildfires

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IDAHO FALLS — Summer is prime time for wildfires, and the Bureau of Land Management wants the public to remember the crucial role they play in helping prevent them.

So far in the area, there have been seven fires total and all of them have been human-caused, according to Idaho Falls District BLM Fire Information Officer Kelsey Griffee. She said although the season is off to a slower start, it’s normal for the area to have at least 50% to 60% of fires started by humans.

Griffee said they normally average over 100 fires a season and see over 100,000 acres burn.

“Every year, human-caused wildfires comprise approximately 87% of all wildfire ignitions across the country, posing a considerable threat to public and firefighter safety,” BLM deputy director William Perry Pendley said in a news release. “These wildfires are preventable and this year, more than ever, our wildland firefighters need the public’s help in reducing human-caused wildfire risk.”

RELATED: We may have above-normal fire season in eastern Idaho

The Southwest and Alaska are currently experiencing fire activity with numerous large wildfires occurring, and other states may experience significant wildfire activity over the next few months, the news release explains.

The National Interagency Fire Center’s Predictive Services unit, who assesses wildfire potential throughout the country, predicts above-normal wildfire potential this year in areas of Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Hawaii, according to the news release. This is due to expected high temperatures, dry vegetation and other weather factors, including high winds.

“Because of these conditions, human-caused wildfire ignitions have the potential to quickly grow out of control and threaten lives, property and precious natural resources,” the news release states.

People accidentally start wildfires every season by doing a variety of common things. The BLM is asking the public to help reduce ignitions from campfires, debris burning, equipment use and even from an automobile’s hot tailpipe scorching dry grass.

Griffee said as people are out enjoying public lands to do so with fire in mind. She said its important individuals have an extinguisher, bucket, shovel and that they check what fire restrictions are in place.

The 2020 Fire Prevention Order is currently in effect. Specific fire-related activities on public land are prohibited until Oct. 20. During this time, fireworks, steel core ammunition, tracer ammunition, incendiary ammunition and exploding targets are prohibited on BLM lands.

“With Fourth of July coming up, people should not come out to the forest or BLM or state lands with fireworks,” she said. “It’s not smart because grass and trees are very flammable and fireworks are good at starting fires.”

Griffee also said if it’s hot, dry and windy outside then it’s best to not be target shooting or having a bonfire.

“We always encourage visitors to enjoy public lands,” Pendley explained in the news release. “We just ask them to enjoy their public lands responsibly (and) with a few simple precautions, they can reduce human-caused wildfires throughout the country. Fewer human-caused wildfires will allow our wildland firefighters to focus more on lightning-caused wildfires, which we cannot prevent.”

For more information on how to prevent wildfires on public lands, watch the video here.

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