Shoshone County working to prevent wildfires

Fire season may be off to a slow start which is giving fire prevention crews in Shoshone County more time to reduce fire dangers around homes and properties thanks to a federally-funded county program.

In the dense woods east of Mullan crews have been busy cutting and clearing brush and trees. They’re not logging but rather working to reduce the risk of wildfires in Shoshone County.

“This is very important,” Henry Nipp with the Shoshone County Fire Mitigation Program said. “In this country, if you don’t do something to limit the spread of the fire, it’s usually a stand replacing fire. Its going to take everything out when it goes through.”

Once crews have their way with trees and brush the chances of a fire burning out of control here is drastically reduced.

“Now instead of seven or eight-foot flame links you may have a foot, foot-and-a-half with what we’ve got left and that’s easy to get in and fight and defend structures and property,” Nipp said.

Shoshone County’s fire mitigation program is targeting high risk areas like Wallace, Mullan, Murray, Avery and Silverton. Other trouble spots include Prichard, Pinehurst and Osburn.

“That’s the beauty of North Idaho … its to protect the forest, the mountains and I’m willing to support that,” homeowner Art Almquist said.

The program works like this: If you’re a property owner within designated areas experts will stop by, assess the fire risk to your house and property, put together an action plan and get to work  free of charge.

Art Almquist just had his backyard cleaned up of potential fire hazards.

“There were some reservations about seeing some of that greenery removed and exposing some of the other stuff but I understand its for a good cause,” Almquist said.

Residents are willing to put up with the work and the noise and the landscape changes because they’re keenly aware of the area’s past and why fire prevention is so important.

“Back in the 1910 fire, it just uncontrollably burned the area for years. It was a loss of livelihood, homes,” Almquist said.

More federal stimulus dollars are on the way to help with fire mitigation in Shoshone County. If you live in the county and would like crews to come to your home you can call (208) 753-5475.