The Teton Basin Ranger District Office hosted its long-running annual Community Wildfire Preparedness event in Driggs on May 4 with booths and information to help people prepare for peak fire season.

Wildfires will light; it’s inevitable. Even the most prepared people are still subjected to nature’s force.

According to a report by the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners in late 2023, humans were the leading cause of wildfires across Idaho. However, Jon Carnill, fire prevention technician for the Caribou Targhee National Forest, said things are different in the Caribou Targhee, where lightning is the number one cause because the visitation is low in comparison to surrounding parks.

“If you zoom it out, we are like a geographic hole of a doughnut. A lot of the forests around us have a lot more fires,” Carnill said.

The preparedness event is held annually. Teams generally meet two months before the event to work out the logistics. Afterwhich, they’ll spend an hour or two getting all their materials together.

Hot dogs and burgers being cooked

Hot dogs and burgers being cooked. Photo credit: Frances Lay

The event had lots of Smokey Bear merchandise: carabiners, temporary tattoos, activity books, magnets, stickers and more. The booths also had pamphlets and posters on fire safety and evacuation plans for the Teton County area.

Some federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, set up booths. The Nature Conservancy donated all the hot dogs and hamburgers provided during the event. Smokey even made an appearance to meet kids and spread the news of wildfire safety.

Even though nothing can physically be done to stop lightning, there are rules to follow that keep everyone safe.

Rules to prevent wildfires

Booths set up at the event

Booths set up at the event. Photo credit: Frances Lay

Put campfires out.

There were over 130 campfires left unattended last year, according to Carnill. He suggested bringing lots of water and making sure that the fire is completely extinguished before leaving it.

Maintain and keep good care of the vehicles on the grounds to avoid sparks that can cause unexpected fires.

“On most national forests and grasslands, fireworks and other explosives are banned because of certain conditions, mostly related to the potential of starting a wildfire,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Don’t cut down trees or do anything to harm the natural environment. Take care of the area provided and be respectful of the land.

“Only you can prevent forest fires,” Smokey Bear said.

Visit this link for more fire prevention resources.