Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Crews called in to Deer Creek wildfire

Small lightning-caused blaze was reported on Saturday

Express Staff Writer

Wildland firefighters were called on to extinguish a small lightning-caused blaze spotted in a side drainage to Deer Creek over the weekend.

The blaze, near the headwaters of Panther Gulch north of Hailey, was burning in a large Douglas fir tree and in surrounding brush and grass when the firefighters arrived, said Bill Murphy, fire management officer for the Ketchum Ranger District and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Murphy, one of five crew members who hiked into the spot to douse the blaze, said it covered about a tenth of an acre.

The fire was spotted by an off-duty Forest Service employee. Murphy suspects the blaze may have been burning since Memorial Day weekend, when thunderstorms passed through south-central Idaho.

"It had been smoldering for a while," he said.

Murphy said things could have turned out much differently had the fire happened later this summer. Instead, moist early-season conditions kept the blaze from moving much.

"It was just kind of creeping," he said. "What we expect this time of year."

According to Murphy, the blaze was reported about 2:30 p.m. Saturday. He said the crews were able to call it contained about 6:30 p.m. that evening.

Jason Kauffman:

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