STANLEYFirst, they prayed.
Then, they had a blowout party at a local hangout.
And on Saturday afternoon, as smoke swirled from the fires several miles
west and north of town, several hundred locals and tourists gathered at Pioneer Park for
the Braun Brothers reunion concert.
On Friday, Stanley Mayor Hilda Floyd flew over whats called the
Rankin Fire west of Challis with local pilot Bob Danner. Looking down on the main Salmon
and the Middle Fork, she said the smoke was extremely thick.
"It was something else," she told a reporter Saturday afternoon
while preparing dinner for guests at her High Country Inn bed-and-breakfast. "The
whole sky was nothing but smoke."
As for her town, she said, "we have an evacuation plan if something
should happen." It didnt.
Floyd, 53, has been Stanleys mayor for about 18 months. She said
old-timers recall a wildfire that roared down main street a few decades ago. It was
appropriate, she said, that a few dozen residents gathered Friday afternoon at a community
building to pray.
"We prayed that Stanley be spared," she said.
Prayers were also said for the safety of firefighters. Special thanks, she
said, was voiced for Montana firefighters who pitched in not knowing whether their homes
and families were out of harms way as fires burned in the neighboring state.
"We prayed for rain and snow, whichever comes first," Floyd
Friday evening, a town meeting was held with fire and forest officials
briefing residents on how to cope if the fires took an ominous turn.
Also on everyones minds was the tourist situation and the imminent
Local campgrounds were packed. The next day, hundreds of locals and
tourists would be attending the Braun Brothers concert even as blazes were being fought in
nearby national forests.
Later Friday night, more than 300 people jammed a local bar and eatery as
some of the areas Western music talent played and sang until the early hours. There
wasnt a problem with fire officials closing down the party due to overcrowding,
because, quipped a local entertainer, they were attending more serious business.
On Saturday morning, about 10 miles south of Stanley, it was like
nightfall, the air choked with smoke, while wildfires danced around the community of
Atlanta to the southwest. But in Stanley, the sky turned a bright blue with a few puffy
clouds. A refreshing breeze kicked up.
At about 1:30 p.m., popular locals Muzzie Braun and his two sons, Willy
and Micky, kicked off the concert as a growing crowd put up colorful tents and umbrellas.
"People are in very good spirits," Floyd said. "We want to
keep things as normal as possible."