10-year Anniversary Oregon Trail Fire

August 22, 2018

On August 25, 2008, a grass fire ignited near the Oregon Trail area in southeast Boise. Since the tenth anniversary of that fire, much has been done to prevent fires like this from happening again. These efforts are city-wide and will continue in the future. The Oregon Trail Fire was fueled by invasive Cheat grass, dense sagebrush and 50 mph winds. This fire spread rapidly uphill, catching the homes located on the ridgeline on fire. Dense, flammable landscaping and household materials caused ember showers, spreading the fire to homes across the street and beyond. Ultimately, this fire destroyed 10 homes and damaged 11. Tragically, this fire also claimed the life of Mary Ellen Ryder, a professor of English and linguistics at Boise State University. The following summer, on July 28, 2009, lightning sparked a significant wildfire off of Highway 16 in the dry Ada County foothills. The fire burned 4,700 acres, damaged over 60 structures, completely destroyed four, and killed livestock. These wildfires were a wake-up call to Ada County, thus creating of the Ada Fire Adapted Communities concept and website. It also spurred several inter-department programs at the City of Boise, these efforts and prevention education programs continue today. As a result of collaboration between many different stakeholders, several ideas turned into action, including:

  • Adopting building and fire prevention codes specific to the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)
  • Creating interdepartmental and multi-agency wildfire mitigation teams
  • Doubling the number of Firewise USA neighborhoods in Ada County
  • Technological advancements in mapping, with the Updated Ada County Wildfire Riskmap project, and the Ada Situational Awareness Tool (ASAT), a GIS-based situational awareness and incident management software program
  • Providing wildfire home safety evaluation training to residents and neighborhood watch leaders, and conducting home safety evaluations
  • Coordinated wildland training with our local Boise District Bureau of Land Management
  • Integrating a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) into the Ada County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, through the Ada Fire Adapted Working Group
  • Created a new Wildfire Division Chief position
  • Creation of Citizen Fuel Reduction Policy

On August 23 at 11 a.m. Deputy Chief Romeo Gervais, Captain Jerry McAdams and Sara Arkle, Foothills and Open Space Superintendent, will discuss these efforts at a media briefing located at the end of E. Immigrant Pass near the intersection of Sweetwater Drive and E. Immigrant Pass.

Contact: Boise Fire/BPD Media Relations

(208) 570-6780 | bpdmedialine@cityofboise.org

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