POCATELLO — Dry weather and high winds could cause fires to spread rapidly in the next few hours.
A red flag warning was issued Tuesday morning. Although it doesn’t go into effect until 3 p.m., firefighters in Idaho Falls have already responded to at least two different fires after a red flag warning was issued Tuesday morning.
The Idaho Falls Fire Department responded just after noon to a haystack fire at the 8000 block of West 17th South. The fire is near an outbuilding, so additional crews are being sent to the scene.
Andrea Olson, EastIdahoNews.com
After 11:20 a.m., firefighters responded to a field fire south of the Ucon exit along U.S. Highway 20. Witnesses told Idaho Falls Fire crews that the fire was caused by a truck pulling a trailer with dragging chains that were sparking.
The National Weather Service in Pocatello is calling it a “critical fire weather day.” The red flag warning is in effect from 3 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
Gusty winds and low humidity have prompted the warning.
Winds are expected to be anywhere from 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of 35 to 45 mph, according to the warning. The humidity is expected to be between 12 to 16 percent.
The areas affected include the Upper Snake River Valley, Idaho Falls Bureau of Land Management, Goose Creek and Raft River Valley/Southern Sawtooth National Forest, and Twin Falls Bureau of Land Management south of the Snake River. View the map below to see the specific areas that it affects.
“Our red flag warnings, first and foremost, are to support our fire weather partners. It’s a heads up to different government agencies (and) fire departments,” said Kevin Smith, a meteorologist with NWS in Pocatello.
Smith says the red flag warning is also in place to increase the public’s awareness that it is a critical fire weather day.
“If we do start a fire, it could spread very rapidly. We remind everyone of our general safety guidelines. Make sure you are not dragging chains on concrete and asphalt that could create sparks, make sure you are properly disposing of cigarettes, (and) make sure you are trying to avoid burning in general,” Smith said.
He said it’s important to follow any burn bans that are in effect from local officials, too. Rigby-based Central Fire District posted online that it will be issuing a burn ban beginning at noon on Tuesday.
It is expected to be hot, dry and breezy, which can potentially support rapid wildfire spread.
According to NWS, a red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly based on any one or more of these criteria for southeast Idaho:
Relative humidity at or below 15 percent and wind gusts of at least 25 mph in the mountains or 30 mph in the Snake Plain.
Thunderstorm coverage of 25% or greater, without specific rainfall criteria.
Other high-impact events deemed critical by the National Weather Service and area fire management agencies.
Click here to view weather updates.
Smith added there will be a cold front coming Tuesday evening.
“We are going to see significant cooler temperatures behind the front tomorrow. So we are looking at temperatures roughly 15 degrees cooler tomorrow compared to what we will see today. It will continue to be breezy tomorrow but dry,” Smith said.
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