Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dry, hot weather prompts restrictions in forests

Idaho continues to lead nation with 12 wildfires


By STEVE BENSON
Express Staff Writer

An extended period of hot, dry weather combined with widespread fire activity in Idaho has led to a Stage 1 Fire Restriction covering most of the Sawtooth, Boise and Payette national forests.

The restrictions, which also apply to Bureau of Land Management land north of Highway 21, prohibit campfires and barbecues except in designated sites, as well as smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle or building.

The restrictions do not apply to the Mindoka Ranger District of the Sawtooth National Forest or most of Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.

Meanwhile, Idaho continued to lead the nation with 12 wildfires on Tuesday.

Lighting sparked a new wildfire 10 miles northwest of Stanley near Trap Creek Monday. A Hailey helicopter crew and 10 smokejumpers are working the fire, which was torching—shooting embers from trees—and burning through challenging terrain. But it was only five acres by Tuesday afternoon.

Sawtooth National Forest spokesman Ed Waldapfel said crews hoped to make progress last night "but we're not out of the woods yet."

Despite the tinder-dry conditions, that is the only fire in the Sawtooth National Forest.

"We're crossing our fingers," Waldapfel said. "We've been pretty fortunate here the last two or three lighting storms.

"We can't afford to get any new starts. Our fire-fighting resources are starting to get stretched."

Meanwhile, the Potato Fire, which was sparked by lightning July 27 and has consumed 18,236 acres seven miles north of Stanley near the Yankee Fork drainage, was 85 percent contained Tuesday.

The Zane Fire, burning a couple miles from the Potato Fire's western edge, was fully contained at 218 acres.

Eleven crews, six helicopters, two engines, seven water tenders, and 432 people continued to fight the blaze, which was losing strength, according to a press release from the Type 1 Incident Management Team.

By Tuesday, the fire had cost $12.7 million, and 14 firefighters had suffered minor injuries.

Full containment is expected by Aug. 28.

The Boundary Complex fire, sparked by lighting Aug. 7, charred 2,643 acres 17 miles north of Stanley on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River by Tuesday.

It was 48 percent contained. A total of 210 people were fighting the blaze.

The Boundary Creek boat launch and campground and the Dagger Creek campground remain closed. There is no public access to the Boundary Creek area.

Full containment is expected Sept. 10.

The Goodtime Fire, which was caused by a lightning strike on BLM land seven miles west of Shoshone Monday morning, was controlled at 2,400 acres on Tuesday.




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