Firefighters Dread Mixture of Drought, Fireworks

Jun 1, 2015

Even before fireworks went on sale for the 4th, conditions were ripe for wildfires in the Inland Northwest  - exceedingly dry vegetation, including parched and already browning grass, trees stressed by lack of moisture and beetles, and shrubs that can instantly turn to kindling.

Add to that fireworks set off negligently - or stupidly - and you have the stuff of firefighters' nightmares.

Through this weekend, however, firefighting resources were not overtaxed in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Oregon reported only one large wildfire, Idaho, two, and Washington had three, including a new one called the Les Blair fire near the town of Finley at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers.

The Les Blair quickly mushroomed to about 500 acres, forcing fire managers to mobilize state assistance.

Although public lands managers have warned about the potential for enormous and numerous wildfires in the heat and drought gripping this area, so far, they have not materialized. Alaska is the dramatic exception. At last count, 38 major fires raged in the largest state, along with hundreds of smaller ones.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has recorded nearly 27-thousand large fires so far this year, which burned about one-point-one point million acres.

The 10-year average for the same time is more than 34-thousand fires on nearly two-million acres.