Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fires slowed, but still burning

Closures in place


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Area fires are becoming more contained as fire crews battle to keep the flames away from residential areas, but the U.S. Forest Service reports that the Halstead Fire north of Stanley and parts of the Trinity Ridge Fire are still active.

The Halstead Fire, started July 27 18 miles north of Stanley, reached 168,106 acres on Tuesday morning. A report from the Halstead Fire Information Center stated that 167 people are still working on the fire, and it has reached 57 percent containment.

Loon Creek Road above the Hecla Mine to the Loon Creek Guard Station was closed Tuesday, as firefighters assessed the need for a burnout in the area to stop fire progression on the far north perimeter of the blaze. Crews were also attempting to secure the areas of Marsh Creek and Lola Campground near the western perimeter. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire had not crossed the Yankee Fork, and a Forest Service fire progression map showed that it had not grown on its eastern perimeter near the Yankee Fork since mid to late August.

The Salmon River is closed to floaters from Buckhorn Bridge to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area’s eastern boundary, but the fire information center said the closure is due to salmon spawning, not fire activity. The river will reopen Sept. 23.

The Trinity Ridge Fire near Featherville on the Boise National Forest is at 70 percent containment, and a Forest Service report stated Tuesday that all areas of the fire perimeter where crews have safely been able to enter and attempt to suppress the fire have been contained. The remaining uncontained areas are mostly adjacent to previous burn areas or rock barriers, the report states, meaning spread will be limited.

The fire had reached 146,832 acres as of Tuesday morning. It has resulted in 14 injuries and the loss of four structures.  The cost of the human-caused fire so far has reached more than $40 million. More than 100 firefighters remain on scene.

The Mountain Home and Idaho City ranger districts issued notices urging the public to respect all closure orders in place on the Boise National Forest. A press release from Trinity Ridge Fire Information says the public is not allowed to gather firewood, hike, hunt or fish within the closure area. The release states that at times over the weekend, members of the public were observed very close to torching trees.

Violating a closure order is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.

Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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