For the week of July 14, 1999  thru July 20, 1999  

Fire burns 500 acres along Middle Fork

Fire danger on the rise


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

The unmistakable haze of smoke wafted across the Wood River Valley and most of central Idaho last week from the state’s first wildfire of the season.

Last Tuesday, the Fall Creek Fire, as it was called by firefighters, was detected along the banks of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, about six miles upstream from the Boundary Creek launch site.

By Friday, the fire had burned 535 acres inside the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness northwest of Stanley, when it was declared "contained." The fire was declared "controlled"—that is, virtually extinguished-- yesterday morning.

No injuries were reported.

In wilderness areas, naturally ignited fires are left to burn and be put out by Mother Nature. In the case of the Fall Creek Fire, human causes were suspected. For that reason, over 40 Forest Service fire fighters and 12 McCall-based smoke jumpers were sent to tame the fire.

By Thursday morning, the fire had consumed between 350 and 500 acres, according to Salmon/Challis National Forest spokesperson Gail Baer. High winds and low fuel moisture contributed to the growth of the fire. Lower winds on Friday made containing the fire possible, Baer said.

Forest Service law enforcement officer John Perry is investigating the cause of the fire. Though Baer wouldn’t provide any of the information Perry has collected, she said the fire started at a river-side location.

Due to danger from falling trees, boaters are being discouraged from floating the section of the Middle Fork above Dagger Falls, where permits are not required.

The Boundary Creek launch site, downstream where the permitted section of the river begins, was not affected by the fire.

National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials are warning the public that the fire danger is on the rise. In the Salmon and Challis National Forests, Baer said, the fire danger is currently rated as "high."

 

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