Idaho Adventure: Danskin Fire Lookout
Adventure begins with weather here at CBS 2, and this week’s Idaho Adventure explores one of the highest peaks around the valley, Danskin Peak, where the weather can be extreme, and some folks even live there all summer.
The fire lookout on Danskin Peak was built back in the 1930's, and even with all the modern technology of satellite and cell phones, it's still staffed every summer during fire season.
"The lookouts are still critical, especially on the forest, because there's no one out there that's actually got a sat phone, or has a sat phone or a cell phone that will hit anything, so they wouldn't be able to communicate with us,” says Mark Rich, senior dispatcher at the Boise Interagency Dispatch Center, “a lot of times they're still the first ones to report the fire and they're also really good at pointing out if it's not a fire, cause if it's just dust then we don't send people places they don't need to go."
There are currently seven lookouts on the Boise National Forest and two on BLM land that are staffed during the summer.
"Our lookouts work together as part of a large team here in southwest Idaho, we're part of an interagency on the fire side and it's important that we all contribute to the same goal here regardless of the ownership of land,” says Terry Carrico, Fire Prevention Boise National Forest Mtn. Home Ranger District, “their role is crucial with early detection and allowing resources to get there when the fires are small."
Kenneth Miller has been manning the Danskin Fire Lookout for the past five fire seasons. In the lookout, Miller uses an Osborne Fire Finder to get a directional reading on new fires he sees, and then calls them in.
"I get on and just tell them I have a smoke report, and give them the azimuth and a description of what I’m seeing, whether it's white or black smoke, whether I can see the base or not, stuff like that," said Miller.
Back at the Boise Interagency Dispatch Center, they use his description, and maybe one other, to pinpoint the fire.
This old school technology came in handy just a week ago when new fires popped up.
"Their ability to pinpoint in the evening hours, when we're not able to fly or have aircraft for detection, is key. Five days ago we had a lightning storm come through, our lookouts were able to detect those around 8 in the evening and already have them pinpointed and on the map so that we could get resources in there immediately," said Carrico