Liza Pulsipher is the North Zone Fire Education Specialist for the Sawtooth National Forest.
It's official: The 2009 fire season is upon us. The kickoff to the season started on June 30 with a human-caused fire near Redfish Lake and continued with a lightning caused fire in the Wood River Valley on July 3. They were both surprising since the vegetation was green and we had been hard pressed to get through a day without rain. The Redfish fire could have been prevented. It started on a day when there was not a cloud in the sky, which made me realize that not only do firefighters need to be concerned with complacency, but all forest users do as well.
As I was enjoying my two days off I watched as a gradual stream of smoke began to accumulate on the east side of the lake. You can imagine my frustration as I took my place among the visitors, tourists, and locals, listened to my radio and watched the process we so diligently train for be set into motion.
As we watched and listened, the first qualified person on scene took control as the Incident Commander. He sized up the fire, the situation, and the crews. He corresponded with South Idaho Dispatch, initiated a plan of action, and ordered additional resources.
Thanks to the quick response of the ground crews and the precision of our helicopter's bucket drops, the smoke soon dissipated along with the crowds and the fire was under control.
But the firefighter's job has just begun.
To Report a Wildfire, call 1-800-974-2373