Today started off wet and rainy which is good news for the Pocatello Fire Department, but that hasn't been the case most days this summer. In fact, this fire season has been a busy one for the department and the department needs your help reducing the chance of future wildfires from starting.
During the summer months, the fire department responds to much more than house fire calls. Since June 1, the department has responded to 21 fires that were grass, brush or wildland fires.
"Wildfires, as with any type of fire, can spread and grow rapidly. And so, we have to send enough resources to make sure that we can get control of it and get it extinguished quickly," explains Pocatello Fire Department Community Relations Specialist Kim Stouse.
The extra resources used on wildfires help prevent the destruction of structures, but it also means those resources cannot be used for other calls. Stouse adds, "If we can do our part to prevent those fires, it's going to save resources to have them available for medical calls or if a house fire call were to come in."
Using all those resources isn't cheap. For instance, resources to fight the 2012 Charlotte Fire cost about $1 million. This is not including the cost of the destroyed homes and structures in the area.
Many, if not most, of the wildfires in the Pocatello area are preventable. So, the department wants you to know what is often the cause in order for you to help prevent future fires. Stouse explains, "A lot of times we see fires on the interstate, along the shoulders there. People throw cigarette butts into the fields as they're driving down the road; maybe they're having some car problems and they pull over into the grass it runs the risk of starting a fire."
Last week, a grass fire started along the I-15 in Pocatello at the 5th Street off ramp. While the cause is under investigation, it was most likely preventable. Aerial footage of the fire shows three separate start points. This could mean sparks from a dragging chain were the cause.
The Chinese Peak Fire, that burned more than 1,500 acres just over a week ago, was caused by someone using a grinder to work on a vehicle near dry brush. Also preventable.
The department asks that you take simple precautions to prevent wild fires.
Open burning in Pocatello requires a permit. They can be purchased at the Pocatello Fire Station 1 which is located at 408 E Whitman St, Pocatello, ID 83201. Across the street from Albertson's. For any questions call (208) 234-6201.