INTERVIEW: BLM official discusses fire safety ahead of eclipse









Photo Courtesy: Bureau of Land Management

Kelsey Griffee works as the Fire Information Officer for the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho. She joined Neal Larson on KID Newsradio to talk about the BLM’s plans to educate eclipse goers and what they recommend for fire prevention methods.

Listen to the full interview below:

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Just weeks away from the much anticipated Great American Eclipse, the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho is working overtime to educate the public about fire safety.

“We’re very concerned, because this is an influx of people from all over the country, from around the world coming in who aren’t familiar with our country and our fire season and public lands,” Kelsey Griffee, Fire Information Officer for the Bureau of Land Management to KID Newsradio. “They aren’t used to recreating on them like we are and in Eastern Idaho already, 50 percent of our fires are human caused.”

This concern has prompted a massive education effort  as some have estimated as many as 500,000 people descending on southeast Idaho for the once in a lifetime event.

According to the BLM, this year’s wet spring has contributed to an abundance of grass, which is now drying out. Griffee says combining that dry grass with fire hazards like a hot car exhaust system is a recipe for a wildfire.

“One of our number one causes in eastern Idaho for fires is vehicle starts,” Griffee said.

Consequently, the BLM has partnered up with the Idaho Department of Transportation to mow roadsides and install fire safety information kiosks at each rest stop in southeast Idaho. The bureau has also made a massive push on social media and other platforms to make eclipse goers aware of potential fire risks, especially with their vehicles.

“People don’t realize they need to keep their vehicles maintained,” Griffee said. “Before you start traveling for the solar eclipse, do a walk around, make sure that there’s no dragging metal pieces on the ground or if you’re taking a trailer with you,  make sure those trailer chains are tied up.”

The BLM also suggests tips like avoiding parking on dry grass, report all fires immediately by calling 911 and keep a cellphone, water, shovel and fire extinguisher with you in case a fire starts.

Griffee also says the bureau is considering a burn ban during the eclipse.

“We have a matrix to determine if we go into fire restrictions, but when big a event happens or a large influx of people is coming in, that’s a one of our boxes to check and it’s part of the matrix that we use to determine fire restriction,” Griffee said.

The bureau recommends checking regularly to see if a burn ban has been enacted and to subscribe to @BLMIdahoFire on Twitter or search for #BLMIFDFire for breaking fire information.

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