Friday, August 3, 2012

Halstead Fire nears 10,000 acres

Community meeting to be held tonight

The Halstead Fire, located about 18 miles northwest of Stanley, burns in pine forest Wednesday afternoon. The blaze expanded from Monday’s estimate of 50 acres to more than 9,500 acres as of Thursday morning. The smoke and flames have caused the evacuation of Bradley Boy Scout Camp as well as other campgrounds and trails in the area. Photo by David N. Seelig

A lightning-caused wildfire northwest of Stanley has jumped from 50 to nearly 10,000 acres over the course of a few days, the U.S. Forest Service reported Thursday morning.

The Halstead Fire, 18 miles northwest of Stanley near state Highway 21, started Friday, July 27, at about 4 p.m. when a lightning strike ignited a ridge between Beaver Creek and Marsh Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Fire crews were removed from the scene over the weekend due to the extremely hot and active nature of the fire, but returned to work Monday.

The fire was estimated at 50 acres Monday morning, but quickly exploded to more than 3,700 acres by Tuesday morning.

Mardi Rhodes, spokeswoman for the Salmon-Challis National Forest, stated in a press release Thursday morning that the fire had reached 9,626 acres.

"On Wednesday afternoon, the fire made about a five-mile run to the east," she said. "The fire burned actively into the night."

As of Thursday, there were 204 personnel on the fire, including seven hand crews, five engines and three helicopters.

Rhodes said crews are currently concentrating on holding the southwest perimeter of the fire, as well as protecting the Bradley Boy Scout Camp and private property along Highway 21.

The scout camp, as well as national forest campgrounds at Beaver Creek, Beaver Creek Spur, Lola Creek, Lola Camp Spur A, Marsh Creek Transfer and Josephus Lake have been closed.

All access to the Cape Horn, Seafoam Bubble and the Pinyon Peak roads are closed. Trails in the area—including the Halstead Trail, the Roughneck Trail, the Marsh Creek Trail and the Middle Fork Trail from the trailhead to the junction with Fall Creek Trail—have also been closed.

However, the Boundary Creek launch site and the entire Middle Fork River corridor—as well as the entirety of Highway 21 from Stanley to Boise—are open and unaffected by the fire.

Fire danger remains high in the area, and a cold front blowing through the area from the west is hammering the area with winds of 22 mph. The fire had zero percent containment as of Thursday morning.

A community meeting to discuss the fire and closures has been scheduled for tonight, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Stanley Community Center. Members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend.

Kate Wutz:

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