Willow Creek fire
destroys 9,000 acres
Wildfire is 12
miles west of Hailey
Express Staff Writer
started out as a garbage fire contained in a 55 gallon drum turned into an
out-of-control 9,000 acre wildfire on Labor Day afternoon.
River Valley residents didnít feel the Willow Creek fire, but they
smelled and saw the tons of smoke it put into the air Monday and Tuesday.
Express photo by David N. Seelig.
wildfire, reported around noon on Monday, started in the Willow Creek
subdivision at the intersection of Willow Creek and Base Line roads in
Camas County, between Fairfield and Hailey.
wildfire started slow and was only 300 acres by 5 p.m. Monday. But toward
sunset it took off and consumed 2,000 to 3,000 acres of public and private
lands by 8:30 p.m., according to spokesmen for the Bureau of Land
Creek resident Dick Walton said the wildfire remained on the west side of
Willow Creek Road until about 3 p.m., when "everything
wildfire "flew across" from the west side of the road to the
east side, he said.
it crossed the road, it was burning in every compass direction, mostly
uphill," he said.
bow hunting near Rock Creek when he noticed the smoke. Knowing it was
coming from near the subdivision, he started home.
stopped by U.S. Forest Service officers at the intersection of Camp Creek
and Willow Creek roads, but after explaining his family was still at home,
they let him through.
his family and home were safe, although the fire spread as close as 150
yards from his house.
a lot to be said for having green space around your home," he said.
point a single-engine air tanker, or SEAT, dropped retardant so close to
his home that some of it rained on it.
Loucks was the BLM division supervisor for the Willow Creek fire. Express
photo by David N. Seelig.
releases reported that residents of the subdivision were evacuated Monday
night, but Walton said residents were not forced to leave.
were invited to leave. I had no time to look at the clock, but I think it
was about midnight."
He said he
stayed, but his wife, mother and brother left to stay at a friendís
home. They came back Tuesday morning.
morning, David Howell, a BLM fire information officer, said the only
structure that was burned was "an old out building" and the
Willow Creek Road bridge.
that Croy Creek Road, which connects Hailey with the subdivision, was
closed from Kelly Gulch Road to the Blaine-Camas county line.
Tuesday morning, Hailey Assistant Fire Chief Carl Hjelm said the fire had
not gotten into Croy Canyon, but the Hailey Fire Department was prepared
reported the fire was about 12 miles west of Hailey on Tuesday afternoon,
and was burning mostly in a northerly direction.
BLM and USFS firefighters were on the scene Tuesday morning with another
60 on their way, Howell said.
numbers didnít include crews from Wood River Fire and Rescue, and the
Hailey, Ketchum, Sun Valley, Gooding and Fairfield fire departments, who
were providing structure protection to homes near the fire.
A BLM press
release reported that in addition to the ground crews, an aggressive
aerial attack was being conducted by three helicopters, six air tankers
and three SEATs.
wildfire continues to rage through the Frank Church-River of No Return
Wilderness Area. On Monday, the Snowshoe Fire had burned 21,500 acres near
Elkhorn and Thirty-eight creeks after making a large run on Saturday.
are making bucket drops in the hotter areas, as fire behavior and winds
continued drying trend and strong afternoon winds continue to be among the
foremost concerns on the fire, according to a Salmon-Challis National
Forest press release.
Snowshoe Fire has been burning in the wilderness area since July 25. After
the fire grew beyond a "reasonable size" for direct suppression
tactics, the strategy of fighting the fire was changed. Rugged terrain,
lack of safety zones, protection of wilderness values and providing for
firefighter safety are considerations in fighting the fire.
expect the fire to burn until a season-ending weather event puts it out.
fires coincided with a declaration by the Salmon-Challis National Forest
that Stage I fire restrictions will be implemented in the Frank Church
River of No Return Wilderness Area. The restrictions began on Aug. 31.
restrictions prohibit the use of campfires or stoves, except in developed
Forest Service campgrounds.
restrictions also limit smoking to developed recreation sites, inside
vehicles or buildings or in a 3-foot clear zone.
restrictions were also implemented last week on the Sawtooth, Boise and
Payette national forests.