Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Smoky haze blows in from West

Express Staff Writer

The smoky haze that's drifted into the Wood River Valley region this week isn't coming from nearby sources, Sawtooth National Forest's north zone fire management officer Bill Murphy said Monday.

Rather, the smoke's origins are two states away in northern California, he said.

According to California officials, more than 800 wildfires were ignited by a series of major lightning storms that swept over the state in the past day.

And the "critical wildland fire situation" continues to develop in northern California, information posted online by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise indicates.

"Firefighters are battling 32 large fires in California that have burned more than 180,000 acres," the NIFC Web site states.

Many of those blazes are burning near the California-Oregon state line.

Because winds generally blow into southern Idaho by a west-by-southwest direction, the region often receives smoke from wildfires burning in the northern California and southern Oregon regions, Murphy said.

"We're downwind of both of those places," he said. "We're the recipients."

"We'll see drift smoke come across our area."

Murphy said his office in Ketchum has already received calls from nervous members of the local public, many of whom were worried about whether any local fires may have already ignited.

By this time last year, the Wood River Valley region had already witnessed two wildfires. This included a small one-tenth-of-an-acre lightning-caused blaze just north of Galena Summit on June 3 and a larger human-caused fire out Trail Creek northeast of Sun Valley on June 22.

For more information about wildfires burning across the United States, go to and click on "National Fire News."

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