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For the week of August 13 - 19, 2003


Blaine fires consume 4,500 acres

Mop-up planned for completion Tuesday

"It was seven hours of pretty tough fire fighting. It was light, flashy fuels. No timber. There was some sagebrush."

BART LASSMAN, Wood River Fire and Rescue Chief

Express Staff Writer

Two human-caused wildfires exploded Sunday afternoon in southern Blaine County, singeing 4,500 acres of sagebrush and grass.

Bureau of Land Management fire crews tackle a wildfire Sunday afternoon along Highway 75, southeast of Timmerman Junction. Express photo by Willy Cook

No buildings or homes were claimed, and both fires were anticipated to be completely out by the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 12.

The 3,000-acre Timmerman Fire started along Highway 75 southeast of the highway’s intersection with U.S. 20. It is believed to have been started by an automobile, said Bureau of Land Management Fire Information Officer Sky Huffaker. The fire began around 3:30 Sunday.

The 1,500-acre Foothills Fire began near Queen’s Crown, west of Carey, around 4 p.m., and was believed to have been started by a power line or transformer failure, Huffaker said.

Fire crews from the BLM, Wood River Fire and Rescue, Bellevue and Carey Rural Fire Department helped quell the flames, and both fires were considered contained by early Tuesday morning. Remaining mop-up crews were expected to leave the scenes Tuesday night.

"It was seven hours of pretty tough fire fighting," said Wood River Fire and Rescue Chief Bart Lassman. "It was light, flashy fuels. No timber. There was some sagebrush."

A wildfire on the back side of Queen’s Crown Butte forced the temporary closure Sunday afternoon of U.S. 20 between Picabo and Carey when authorities feared the blaze might cross the butte and leap the highway. Express photo by Ken Retallic

Wood River and Carey fire crews helped protect homes and buildings in the vicinity of the fires, while the BLM dropped fire retardant from the air and used fire crews to light a back-fire on the Foothills blaze.

Huffaker said that while fire danger across Idaho is still very high, this has been a moderate fire year in the South Central Idaho Fire District.

"We’ve actually had a really good season," she said.

The 10-year average in the fire management area indicates that, over a year, 150 fires burning 90,000 acres is the norm. This year, fewer than 10,000 acres have burned in 40 to 50 fires. Many of those have been small.

"We do have a very high fire danger rating right now," Huffaker said. "But with this weather, we expect it to lower. Nonetheless, we expect to be burning through Labor Day."



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