Saturday, 20 October 2018

ISJ Editorial: It’s ‘stupid’ season in East Idaho

ISJ Editorial: It’s ‘stupid’ season in East Idaho
29 Jul

There is a lot that happens in America today that causes many of us to shake our heads in disbelief at someone doing something that can best be described as “stupid.”

Maybe depending on the circumstances, the use of the word “stupid” might in hindsight seem harsh.

But regarding the numerous human-caused wildfires that have ignited so far this fire season in East Idaho, “stupid” seems to be an acceptable description of at least the actions of the individuals starting these blazes in most cases.

If you live in Idaho or elsewhere in the American West, you should know that doing certain things in the middle of the summer is an easy way to ignite a very destructive wildfire that could kill or injure people and damage or destroy homes and other buildings.

That being said, it is astonishing that some East Idaho residents exercise such poor judgment during the scorching heat of summer.

We have to think that if local law enforcement aggressively went after these individuals and publicized their arrest and prosecution that perhaps future stupidity could be avoided or at least decreased — meaning there would be fewer human-caused wildfires.

The message needs to be sent that if you light off fireworks on a 95-degree July day, igniting a wildfire in the process, you will face a large fine and jail time.

Yes, that’s harsh but what else can we do to get the point across that people need to use some common sense during wildfire season?

There are plenty of examples this month alone of inexplicable behavior from people resulting in wildfires here in East Idaho.

Two houses have already been destroyed this month by human-caused wildfires in East Idaho and hundreds of acres have been scorched. The flames from these human-caused wildfires have threatened several other residences as well as businesses and even the Idaho State Veterans Home.

Obviously a region-wide refresher is needed regarding unacceptable behavior during wildfire season.

Lighting off fireworks is perhaps the worst idea ever when temperatures are in the vicinity of triple digits and there’s plenty of very dry vegetation everywhere. Anyone who feels fireworks are an acceptable activity in East Idaho during the hottest days of summer should talk to the people on Pocatello’s east bench who lost their homes due to a fireworks caused blaze last summer.

But even more inexplicable are the people who feel the need to use exploding targets while out shooting on scorching summer days.

The Bureau of Land Management says there have already been several wildfires this month in East Idaho sparked by exploding targets used on dry terrain. Discarding a cigarette on a dry, hot day in East Idaho could easily ignite a fire but detonating an exploding target is like discarding 1,000 cigarettes all at once.

The people who have caused wildfires via exploding targets this month in our region have done so on extremely parched and flammable grasslands. It’s a combination of the worst possible activity done at the worst possible place during the worst possible time of year.

But the stupidity unfortunately doesn’t stop with fireworks and exploding targets in East Idaho.

People should know better than to decide to burn weeds on a hot summer day. The same can be said for driving down the interstate at 80 mph with chains dragging from your vehicle.

Conditions are so dry in East Idaho during the summer that one spark from anything can become a massive wildfire capable of destroying property and people.

This isn’t news to any of us, so why is it so tough for many of us to refrain from fire-starting behavior this time of year?

Already this summer, 31 of the 67 wildfires that have occurred in East Idaho have been human-caused.

The bottom line is that East Idahoans need to stop being stupid when it comes to wildfires.

Or we can accept that wildfire season will be made much worse each and every year because of our own reckless behavior.

Let’s hope some common sense prevails.



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