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Firefighters feeling the strain of taxing fire season

“It’s going to be a big fire season, I think and it’s going to be dangerous”
Published: Jul. 17, 2021 at 9:55 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — For the Gooding Fire District, it has already been a testing season and the toughest days may still lay ahead.

“My guys, myself included, we’re getting worn out already and the fire season normally starts at this time,” said Gooding Fire District Chief Brandon Covey.

The fire district received out-of-state deployment calls in April and began accepting them in May. This year, they have aided firefighting efforts in Nevada, Utah and several regions of Idaho outside their typical area. Those deployments can be taxing on fire personnel.

“When we’re deployed, we’re out for a minimum of 14 days,” said Covey. “You’re living in tents out at the fire scene, so you’re away from your family. You’re away from your community for two weeks.”

Fighting wildfires additionally requires a different set of skills than this department typically sees.

“You’re hiking tall mountains, using hand tools, laying miles of hose and that’s not something we’re used to doing around here,” said Covey.

In a Tuesday press conference, Idaho Department of Lands Director Dustin Miller spoke of the strain being put on fire personnel statewide, saying in part “the biggest issue we face right now is extremely limited resources to manage these fires, including a lack of aircraft and crews on the ground.”

In Idaho alone, 96 fires have burned over 11,000 acres on Bureau of Land Management public lands. Roughly 75 percent of those fires were human-caused.

“I think people really misunderstand how quickly fire can start, how easily it can start and how quickly it can spread,” said the Bureau of Land Management Idaho’s Kelsey Brizendine.

Covey added “I have concerns for my crew for sure. It’s going to be a big fire season, I think and it’s going to be dangerous.”

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