Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fire near Redfish Lake spreads east

Blaze declared No. 1 priority in country

Express Staff Writer

A wildfire that was ignited along a national forest road has burned about 300 acres near Redfish Lake and is threatening the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery and a subdivision on the east side of state Highway 75.
    Tina Boehle, information officer with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, said the Road 210 Fire south of Stanley is the No. 1 priority fire in the nation now. She said a Type 1 fire management team has been dispatched and should be at the fire this morning, July 24. The team is of the same type that directed operations during the 2007 Castle Rock Fire near Ketchum.
According to a situation report from the center, 78 firefighters and three helicopters were at the Road 210 Fire on Tuesday. On Monday, firefighters attacked the blaze from the skies with helicopters and retardant drops.
    Road 210 runs southeast parallel to Highway 75 from Redfish Lake Road close to its intersection with the highway. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
    The fire has burned close to the fish hatchery, which was on generator power Tuesday. It was not immediately threatening Redfish Lake Lodge.
    Spot fires have ignited across Highway 75 and the Salmon River near the fish hatchery.
    According to a spokeswoman at the Stanley Ranger Station, campgrounds, day-use areas and Redfish Lake Lodge were evacuated Monday afternoon. She said Tuesday that no structures had been burned.
    The Idaho State Police reported Tuesday that state Highway 75 was open after having been closed to both lanes of traffic near Redfish Lake Road on Monday. However, the ISP discouraged travel in the area.
    Witnesses at the scene said they could see flames from beaches beside the popular lake. After the evacuation started, a line of traffic backed up on Redfish Lake Road, they said. One witness reported having trouble finding gasoline and lodging in Stanley after she left the scene.
    Indeed, the Stanley Chamber of Commerce reported Tuesday that the area was enduring gas shortages, power outages and a lack of established campsites to accommodate people in the area.
    A closure to public use has been enacted for much of the eastern side of the Sawtooth Wilderness and for most of the White Clouds Mountains, excluding certain roads and trails. For details, see the Sawtooth National Forest website.
    Other recent wildfire activity includes:

  •  The human-caused Brown Butte Fire started Sunday about 2:30 p.m. about six miles northeast of Shoshone along the east side of U.S. Highway 93, and spread to 7,296 acres by Monday, burning grass and brush. Crews totaling 140 people were dispatched to the fire. It was reported as 50 percent contained Monday.
  • The Bradley Fire was reported Saturday about 4 p.m. about 15 miles northwest of Stanley, near the Bradley Boy Scout Camp. Due to the location of the fire within easy access of state Highway 21, there was a heavy initial attack response by 86 firefighters. The Scout camp was evacuated, as were campers in the general area. The public is discouraged from entering these areas to ensure public and firefighter safety.

    The fire is burning primarily in lodgepole pine. Portions of the fire have burned into areas of the 2012 Halstead Fire, which has been a barrier to continued fire growth. The fire had burned about 50 acres by late Monday morning and was reported as only 10 percent contained by Tuesday afternoon. Its cause remains under investigation.
· Local fire resources were dispatched to the scene of the Lodgepole Fire, 10 miles west of Challis, shortly after it was detected about noon Saturday, and aggressive fire suppression efforts were put into place. The fire spread to 1,000 acres by Tuesday and is burning in lodgepole pine and dispersed Douglas fir, torching and spotting. Its cause remains under investigation. Two hundred and seventy-three firefighters were working on the fire Tuesday.
    An evacuation of Mosquito Flat Campground and surrounding areas was put into place Saturday, and guards are stationed at Forest Service roads in the area. Challis Creek Road and Sleeping Deer Road have been closed.

  • The Papoose Fire, burning along the lower part of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, grew by 1,200 acres Monday along its southern and western flanks, and by Tuesday had burned 7,700 acres.   The lightning-caused fire, detected July 8, is burning in grass, brush and small stands of timber in rugged, inaccessible terrain above the west side of the river downstream from Big Creek.
  •  The Leggit Fire, at the southern tip of the Sawtooth Wilderness east of Atlanta, has grown to 350 acres, but is expected to be contained late this week. The fire was ignited by lightning on July 2.

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