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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of July 10 - 16, 2002

News

Fire season kicks off

Local fires doused quickly


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Fire season dawned on Idaho last week as hot weather and high winds fanned flames across the stateís southern deserts, including several fires in the Wood River Valley region.

South Central Idaho Bureau of Land Management crews responded to 10 area fires in three days. Most were caused by lightning strikes, but several were caused by fireworks, said Fire Information Officer Sky Huffaker.

The largest fire in Idaho, the 2,700-acre Jim Burns Fire, was still burning Tuesday north of Richfield but was nearly contained, Huffaker said.

Closer to home, Wood River Valley municipal and federal fire fighting crews quickly doused a blaze July 5 in the Indian Creek subdivision, northeast of Hailey, that was allegedly started by a juvenile using fireworks. According to a press release from Wood River Fire and Rescue, fire danger in the area was very high due to high winds, dry fuel and steep terrain.

Approximately 60 fire fighters from six departments worked to contain the fire by 3 p.m., three hours after agencies were dispatched. The fire was declared extinguished at 6 p.m. after consuming 20 acres of sage and grass on private property.

Had the fire gained more momentum, it could have threatened several nearby homes, said Wood River Fire and Rescue Chief Bart Lassman.

Lassman said the Wood River Fire Protection District Board of Commissioners will review the fire and associated suppression costs and decide whether the juvenile responsible, or the juvenileís family, should be liable for those costs.

Also, if prosecuted, the juvenile could face charges of second degree arson, Lassman said.

"It burned up some sagebrush, but it could have been a lot worse," he said. "If thatís any indication of what the rest of the seasonís going to be like, weíre preparing ourselves."

Numerous additional lightning-caused fires have sprung up around the region.

BLM and Wood River Fire and Rescue crews quickly extinguished a small, lighting-caused fire on a ridge near Dela Mountain just west of Hailey early Sunday morning.

The Carey Rural Fire Department also has extinguished and assisted on several area fires, including a 20-acre blaze four miles south of Picabo and two small fires west of Carey.

Huffaker said all of last weekendís flare-ups have been completely extinguished, except for the Jim Burns Fire, but pointed out that fire danger will continue to rise as heat and dry weather continue to dominate.

"We just ask that everyone be extremely careful out there. Itís only going to get worse," Lassman said.

 


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.