Friday, August 30, 2013

Fire containment expected Saturday

Little Queens and Kelley fires continue to grow

Express Staff Writer

The Beaver Creek Fire burned close to a group of historic ranger station buildings in Greenhorn Gulch but the buildings were saved. Photo by Roland Lane

     Firefighters planned to have the Beaver Creek Fire mopped up and put onto monitor status by the end of the day Thursday, Incident Commander Marty Adell told local residents at a public information meeting Wednesday night.
     Adell said firefighters would clean up hoses and other equipment on Friday, and incident command would be transferred to a smaller Type 3 team, composed mostly of local forest managers, on Saturday.
     Adell said the fire would go into monitor status at the hot spots that still remained by Wednesday—on its north side in the East Fork of Baker Creek drainage and near Fox Peak, both north of Ketchum, and on its east side along Carbonate Mountain west of Hailey.
     “We’re feeling very secure about the whole north end,” Adell told people at the sparsely attended meeting.
     Fire Information Officer Barbara Bassler said in an interview that full containment is still predicted for the end of the day Saturday.
     Adell said one smoldering log on the east face of Carbonate Mountain sent up a plume of smoke Tuesday night, but the fire is not expected to spread there.
     Bassler said the incident command camp on Buttercup Road north of Hailey will be broken down Saturday and remaining resources will be transferred to a smaller camp already set up along Baker Creek Road.
     The fire, which was ignited by lightning Aug. 7, has burned 111,488 acres, about 174 square miles. There were 599 people still working on the fire Thursday morning, down from a peak of about 1,800 last week.
     Local bikers and hikers wasted no time Wednesday returning to newly opened trails north of Ketchum.


We’re feeling very secure about the whole north end.”
Marty Adell
Incident commander

     “It was like a lemming rush, I heard, about noon,” Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson said at the public meeting.
     Trails in burned areas controlled by the U.S. Forest Service, including Deer Creek and Greenhorn Gulch, as well as those on Bureau of Land Management lands in Croy Canyon, remain closed.
     BLM Shoshone District Recreation Planner John Kurtz said all trails there, except for the Hidden Valley and Bullion Connector trails, will probably remain closed for the season.
     Bald Mountain was also opened for recreational use Wednesday. Sun Valley Resort spokesman Jack Sibbach said the gondola and the Christmas chairlift as well as the Roundhouse restaurant are open.
     “We’re back to full operations,” he said. “You can ride the lifts and hike all the trails on Baldy.” 
    Sibbach said the Lookout restaurant will also be open from Friday, Aug. 30, through Monday, Sept. 2, for “tacos on top,” serving $3 tacos as it does during winter.


     Activity on other fires nearby is as follows:

  • The Little Queens Fire has burned 23,324 acres in the Boise National Forest and in the southern end of the Sawtooth Wilderness since it was ignited by an as-yet-unknown cause on Aug. 17. According to the site, crews have made good progress with mop-up and securing a containment line on the south flank near the old mining town of Atlanta, as well as to the west along the Middle Fork of the Boise River road.

     The east and west flanks of the fire will continue to be monitored for fire activity, and suppression action using helicopter water drops will be taken if necessary. Containment is predicted for Oct. 30.

  • The Kelley Fire along the South Fork of the Boise River northwest of Fairfield, ignited by lightning Aug. 24, has about doubled in size over the past two days, to 565 acres by Thursday. The fire was being fought by 150 firefighters, six helicopters, an unspecified number of single-engine air tankers and a Canadian aircraft, a CONAIR 580 capable of delivering 2,150 gallons of retardant. A Type 2 incident management team took command of the fire Thursday.

     The fire was reported as only 5 percent contained and no estimated containment date has been released.

  • The Papoose Fire along the west side of the lower Middle Fork of the Salmon River remains in slow-growth mode, and as of Thursday had burned 9,511 acres in steep, inaccessible, brushy terrain. There is no effort being made to extinguish it and only eight people were reported working on it to monitor campsites along the river.

Greg Moore:

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