Much of southern Idaho is under a Red Flag warning for Thursday, July 1. Red Flag Warnings indicate elevated fire danger. 

A red flag warning has been issued for the Wood River Valley, Sawtooth National Forest and Salmon-Challis National Forest on Thursday due to possible lightning strikes and scattered thunderstorms in the region.

The warning, in effect 2-11 p.m., indicates highly favorable wildfire conditions.

Smoke from northern California, Oregon and Washington may also settle in the Wood River Valley and central Idaho this afternoon, according to the Weather Service.

The red flag warning was issued Wednesday due to possible strong downdrafts, gusts of up to 45 miles per hour and “wet and dry thunderstorms” driven by an annual Southwest monsoon weather pattern.

The monsoon—caused by a reversal of wind patterns in Mexico and the southwestern U.S.— brings increased moisture to typically dry inland areas, according to the Weather Service.

Other areas under a red flag warning today include Lemhi County, Owyhee County and much of southeastern Idaho.

Local fire restrictions to increase

On Friday morning, the Sawtooth National Forest—now in “very high” fire danger—will implement Stage 1 fire restrictions to help offset the threat of wildfires.

Stage 1 restrictions prohibit campfires and smoking within 3 feet of vegetation on all Forest Service lands. Campfires may, however, be started in certain campgrounds if specified by signage.

Several other fire restrictions currently apply in Blaine County. In Ketchum, it’s illegal to start campfires or outdoor wood fires and smoke near vegetation. Exploding targets are prohibited in Blaine County and on all BLM-managed land, and open agricultural burning is banned in southern Blaine County.

With one outlier—Sun Valley—fireworks are banned in all Wood River Valley cities and unincorporated Blaine County, including BLM and Forest Service land.

Recent firework bans passed by Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue and Blaine County officials have made discharging any consumer-type firework, even sparklers, a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine up to $1,000.

Enforcement at the local level could prove difficult this weekend.

Around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, bottle rockets were reportedly set off in the 2800 block of Warm Springs Road, but “no one was found upon officer arrival,” according to Ketchum Police Chief Jamie Shaw.

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