Friday, August 22, 2008

Regional wildfires continue burning

Northeast of Featherville, the South Barker Fire has grown to 7,391 acres


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

One large fire and several smaller fires burning on the Sawtooth National Forest's Fairfield Ranger District, to the west of the Wood River Valley, continue to cause haze in the valley, forest officials reported Thursday.

Mild weather conditions and favorable winds during the past few days have allowed firefighters to extend a "handline" along the north and west flanks of the largest of those blazes, the South Barker Fire along the Sawtooth and Boise national forest boundary. A handline is a fire line built with hand tools.

The 7,391-acre wildfire continues to burn in the Marsh Creek drainage and a new spot fire was observed nearby in the Willow Creek drainage, which will be managed as part of the South Barker incident, a U.S. Forest Service news release states. The rest of the fire continues to back down into grass and sagebrush, with occasional tree torching and spotting. The fire has reportedly begun moving more eastward.

The Johnson Creek 2 Fire, also on the Fairfield Ranger District, has not grown in the past few days and is still about eight acres. Four smaller fires in the area have not shown any activity during routine monitoring, Thursday's local fire update stated.

On the north and west flanks of the South Barker Fire, crews will continue to add to existing handline. A bulldozer has been clearing some of the old logging roads in the area.

Fire crews will continue to provide structure assessment, monitor the fire backing down towards the Shake Creek Guard Station and patrol along the South Fork of the Boise River Road.

The South Barker Fire is being managed as a "wildland fire use" event, meaning it will be allowed to burn to help achieve management objectives until it threatens public safety or valuable structures. The firefighting effort on the north and west sides is intended to prevent the fire from spreading farther into the Boise National Forest.

Due to the proximity of the fire and for the safety of firefighters and the public, numerous campgrounds, roads and trails have been closed. Contact the Fairfield Ranger District for details: (208) 764-3222.

Elsewhere in the region, a series of fires on the Salmon-Challis National Forest north of the valley have continued to challenge firefighters. Crews were able to contain the eight-acre Haynes Fire near state Highway 28, while crews continue to work on the three-acre Pole Fire on the east side of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the 3,900-acre Border Complex near the headwaters of the Selway River.




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