Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lightning sparks fires on BLM land

Storms cause 36,000 acres to go up in flames


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Bureau of Land Management fire crews worked overtime to contain at least 10 lightning-caused fires in southern Idaho late last week and over the weekend.

More than 36,000 acres went up in smoke after a series of thunderstorms Thursday caused multiple brush fires.

"There was lightning just everywhere," said Kyli Astle, fire information officer with the BLM's Twin Falls District. "It kind of hit the area hard."

Astle said her office received 16 fire calls that night from lightning-caused fires.

The largest was the Windmill Fire, which burned 17,400 acres about four miles southwest of Bliss. One hundred and twenty people from the Sawtooth National Forest, the Twin Falls and Idaho Falls BLM fire crews and one private contractor battled the blaze until it was contained Monday afternoon.

The Windmill Fire brought down 30 power poles in the area.

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Forty to 50 crew members attacked the Double A fire, a 12,504-acre blaze that raged southwest of Shoshone. The fire threatened power lines and livestock before BLM crews contained it on Saturday.

The Deadhorse Fire, also sparked last Thursday, burned almost 7,000 acres before crews contained it Monday afternoon. The fire was north of Gooding, and multiple air drops of flame retardant were required to contain it.

A second burst of lightning storms caused a 917-acre fire three miles south of Rogerson, in Twin Falls County, on Friday night. The Pointe Fire escalated Sunday when winds pushed the blaze from an estimated 235 acres to more than 900 before fire crews and helicopters contained it Monday afternoon.

Astle said Tuesday afternoon that most resources have been removed from the fire.

"We just have four engines there," she said. "They're getting it all taken care of."

The busy fire season seems to have come later than usual, Astle said.

"We haven't had very many fires in June or July," she said.

Astle said BLM crews from neighboring districts, including firefighters from Utah, assisted on the weekend's incidents. As of press time, there were no active and uncontained fires in the region.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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