Idaho Hunting for Person Who Left Unextinguished Campfire That Sparked Deadly Wildfire

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

Idaho authorities are currently on the lookout for a person who left an unextinguished campfire that sparked a deadly wildfire. This campfire reportedly led to the largest wildfire in the state this year. Three firefighters have died while battling this blaze. Additionally, officials said Wednesday, Fox News reports, that the 200-square-mile Moose Fire, which is located in east-central Idaho, is just about half contained. The fire started back in mid-July. In interviews by special agents from the U.S. Forest Service, along with law enforcement officers, they say the fire started at an unattended campfire. Forensic processing of the fire’s origin point led to this conclusion.

The U.S. Forest Service also said that the fire started in a dispersed camping area. It happened to be between the main Salmon River and Salmon River Road. The fire would then go from grass and shrubs then into forests located at higher elevations. This would force residents to leave their homes near Salmon, Idaho. But the forestry agency seeks the public’s help in ID’ing anyone at the camp area. Specifically, they are looking at the time between July 16 in the afternoon and July 17 in the morning.

Authorities Watching Campfire Use A Lot

Authorities at the state and federal levels have worked to hold careless campers, fireworks users, and public land target shooters more responsible. They are looking at firefighting costs that could hit millions of dollars. “The program has had to expand, of course, because we have more need because of human-caused negligent fires,” Jessica Gardetto, external affairs chief for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management at the Boise, Idaho-based National Interagency Fire Center, said.

Gardetto would point toward a rise in public land use through the COVID-19 pandemic. People potentially new to being in the great outdoors with a campfire might not have been clued into safely using fires in wildland areas. It’s also worth noting that humans are usually the most common cause of wildfires in the U.S. That is according to the Fire Center with people starting nearly 53,000 fires in 2021. Lightning would account for nearly 6,300 wildfires also in 2021.

Meanwhile, there are officials in Idaho who are tracking human-caused wildfires. Campfire use also is under watchful eyes. They also are seeking those who are responsible. Going back to last Tuesday, the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) indicated that 123 of the 276 wildfires were human-caused. The IDL is responsible for fighting over 10,000 square miles of state, federal, and private land. Spokeswoman Sharla Arledge said, “We investigate every fire under IDL protection. We’ve had some good success, and there have been two arrests for arson this year.” Over the past two years, the agency has also bolstered its wildfire investigation capabilities.