Friday, July 26, 2013

Redfish fire nearly contained

Road, recreational complex reopened Thursday

Boise Hotshot Team members Dan Walker, left, and Casey Caughlin prepare to leave an area where they had been putting out hotspots caused by the fire. Photo by Roland Lane

    The area around Redfish Lake, perhaps Idaho’s most well-known tourist destination, appears to have been saved from being badly scarred by wildfire. Under attack by 275 firefighters and 23 engines, the 210 Road Fire near the lake was declared 95 percent contained Thursday.
    The fire, which began Monday along a national forest road southeast of Redfish Lake Road, burned 230 acres of lodgepole pine forest and came close to the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery, but did not burn any structures.
    According to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service, Redfish Lake Road and all recreation facilities within the Redfish Lake complex, including campgrounds, day-use areas and the Redfish Lake Lodge, were reopened at noon Thursday. The areas had been evacuated Monday afternoon after the fire started burning.
    All areas east of state Highway 75 within the White Clouds Mountains were reopened to the public following a closure declared Monday. The Sawtooth Fish Hatchery was reopened to the public Thursday morning.
    However, the Buckhorn subdivision, east of Highway 75, remained evacuated and areas surrounding the fire perimeter west of the highway remained closed.
    According to the news release, fire crews on Wednesday provided structure protection, worked hotspots and mopped up 100 feet inside the fire perimeter.
    The weather forecast predicts some potential for isolated thunderstorms, with generally dry conditions, above-normal temperatures and low humidity. Smoke from other fires was predicted to settle in the Sawtooth Valley last night but to dissipate around noon today, July 26.
    The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
    Other area fire activity includes:
l The Papoose Fire, which has burned 9,000 acres near the lower end of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River since it was detected July 8. The fire gained about 1,000 acres Tuesday and Wednesday, burning grass, brush and small stands of timber in rugged, inaccessible terrain above the river downstream from Big Creek.
    On Thursday, firefighters were assessing opportunities to keep flames from crossing Big Creek, small-boat crews were removing ground fuels in campsites between Big Creek and Goat Creek and firefighters were assessing structures in the Taylor Ranch area.
    Four trail closures are in effect. A link to closure maps can be accessed at
l The Leggit Fire, which by Thursday had burned 1,118 acres in rugged terrain in the southern end of the Sawtooth Wilderness east of Atlanta. A combination of water drops from helicopters and hand line from crews are being used in the Ross Fork confluence area in an attempt to minimize spread. Hand line has been completed in the Middle Fork of the Boise River corridor in case the fire continues northerly spread. Fire growth over the next few days was expected to be minimal.
l The human-caused Brown Butte Fire, which was declared contained Monday after burning 7,296 acres of grass and brush along the east side of U.S. Highway 93 about six miles northeast of Shoshone.
l The Bradley Fire, about 15 miles northwest of Stanley near the Bradley Boy Scout Camp. The fire, reported Saturday, was declared contained Tuesday after burning 50 acres. Its cause remains under investigation.
l The Lodgepole Fire, 10 miles west of Challis, which grew to 5,920 acres by Thursday from 1,000 acres Tuesday, burning in lodgepole pine and dispersed Douglas fir. Burnout operations were initiated Wednesday by the 560 firefighters working there. The fire’s cause remains under investigation.
    According to the Forest Service, 11 fires were burning in Idaho on Thursday. The National Interagency Fire Center reported 24 significant fires burning in nine Western states and Alaska, including seven of the fires in Idaho.

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