Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trinity Ridge Fire partially contained

Evacuees may return to Featherville


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

The Halstead Fire, as seen from a point just south of Stanley, pours out a column of smoke Sunday during an otherwise beautiful day. The fire remained on the north side of Highway 75, and both Highway 21 and Highway 75 remained open as of Tuesday afternoon. Express photo by Kate Wutz

Firefighters made progress over the weekend, containing more than 43 percent of the Trinity Ridge Fire north of Featherville.

Original reports on Monday stated that the fire had been 68 percent contained; however, the Boise National Forest stated Tuesday morning that that estimate was the result of a calculation error, and 43 percent is accurate.

The Associated Press reported Monday that back burns around Featherville have proven effective in protecting the town. An evacuation order was lifted Sunday morning, and a report from the Boise National Forest on Tuesday stated that only residents were being allowed into Featherville and should be prepared to show proof of residency.

Crews in recent days have been trying to slow the fire’s growth toward the Middle Fork of the Boise River with helicopter water drops.

The fire is currently at 145,696 acres, with 1,150 people working on the fire.

A giant header of smoke rose above the city of Stanley on Sunday, marring an otherwise perfectly blue sky, as the 131,030-acre Halstead fire three miles north of the town threatened power lines and the east side of Yankee Fork Road.

Eric Mosley, spokesman for the Halstead Fire effort, said crews have painted power poles with a fire-resistant coating and firefighters are positioned to protect them from fire. Helicopters also protected the power lines Monday, while burnout operations were conducted to slow the fire’s spread to U.S. Highway 21, the power line and state Highway 75.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest reported Tuesday that crews will use helicopters to cool the fire, currently cresting ridge tops along Highway 75. The highway remains open, however, and traffic is allowed through with the aid of a pilot car from Stanley to Peach Creek, depending on fire conditions.

The Custer County Sheriff’s Office evacuated residents of 30 homes near Sunbeam on Saturday, but residents were allowed back into their homes by 1:30 p.m. Monday and placed under a 48-hour pre-evacuation notice. Though property owners and mine workers were allowed into the Yankee Fork area via Sunbeam, the forest closure order currently in effect prohibits the general public from entering the area.

The weather forecast for Blaine County included a red flag warning through Wednesday night through much of the East Fork of the Salmon River, Lemhi, Lost River and Sawtooth Range areas. The region was expected to see gusty winds of up to 30 mph with very low humidity—both of which the National Weather Service said would support fire growth.

 

Injured bear moved to Boise facility

A black bear cub injured in the Mustang Complex Fire last week was placed in a treatment facility on Friday.

Boo Boo, who suffered second-degree burns on all four of his paws and was found clinging to a tree by U.S. Forest Service employees, was transferred to the Idaho Humane Society in Boise. “A number of facilities were considered during the evaluation process,” stated Mark Drew, veterinarian for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, in a press release Friday. “The Idaho Humane Society was the best fit for the cub considering his medical and other needs.” Fish and Game spokesman Evin Oneale stated that the bear’s condition was improving. Drew said the bear has a good appetite and has been stabilized. “Perhaps most importantly, there appears to be no infection in any of his footpads, despite second-degree burns on all four feet,” he said. Oneale said the department has received many questions about how to help the bear cub. Donations can be sent to the Idaho Humane Society, Black Bear Fund, 4775 Dorman St., Boise, ID 83705. Questions regarding donations should be directed to Christine Moore at cmoore@idahohumanesociety.org.


Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

 




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