With the Walker fire continuing to burn in Boise County and mountain winds blowing downhill at night, the Treasure Valley's "red" or unhealthy air quality is expected to continue Thursday and beyond, officials said.
Continued smoke impacts are expected in the area, especially during morning hours, the Department of Environmental Quality reported Wednesday. Impacts have been most significant in the eastern valley and Boise area, with less smoky haze in Caldwell and other western areas of the valley.
The National Weather Service expects the weather pattern to hold through the end of the week, with a slight chance of rain over the weekend.
Also on Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Lands announced it would extend “closed fire season” until further notice, requiring anyone outside city limits anywhere in Idaho to obtain a fire safety burn permit before burning anything, including crop residue. An exception is granted for recreational campfires. Fire safety burn permits can be obtained online or in person at IDL offices statewide.
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“Even though it’s the middle of October, conditions are expected to be warm and dry enough across Idaho to ignite a wildfire that can easily escape initial attack,” State Forester David Groeschl said. “Requiring fire safety burn permits past October 20 for certain controlled burn activities enables fire managers to set parameters for the types of burning allowed in certain areas that are still at risk for wildfire.”
By October, there also are fewer firefighters, equipment, and aircraft available to respond to a controlled burn if it escapes.
The fire safety burn permit system informs fire managers where burning activities are occurring, reducing the number of false runs to fires and saving firefighting resources for instances in which they are truly needed. It also enables fire managers to respond more quickly to fires that escape, potentially reducing the liability of the burner if their fire escapes.
The fire safety burn permit is free of charge and good for 10 days after it is issued. Permits issued through the self service web site are available seven days a week, issued immediately, and valid immediately.