Idaho Ablaze: UPDATES On Multiple Wildfires Burning Across The Gem State

Jul 27, 2018

The Mile Marker 73 / Highway 55 Fire is burning along the roadway near the town of Gardena.
Credit Boise National Forest Fire Prevention Technician Jessica Kearney-Reeves

7/31 UPDATE: Several large fires continue to burn across Idaho. Firefighters are hoping to get a handle on them ahead of change in the weather expected to set in Wednesday. The forecast indicates temperatures will cool slightly, meaning more bearable conditions for firefighters as they battle blazes. However, the cooling will bring a chance of thunderstorms and winds which could help spread flames and spark new fires.

  • Rattlesnake Creek Fire: The fire is around 3,600 acres and about 25 percent contained. Firefighters have been dealing with triple-digit temeperatures at elevations as high as 5,000 feet. Throughout the fight, fire planes have dropped close to a million gallons of water on the blaze burning south of Riggins.
  • Sharps Fire: Burning south of Hailey, the Sharps Fire has consumed around 27,000 acres.  Evacuations are in place for a campground and a few isolated pockets of residential buildings. Kelsey Brizendine, a spokespersone for the Bureau of Land Management, says fire behavior is extreme. She describes conditions as unsafe for firefighters and that flames are acting aggressively and moving quickly. Brizendine expects a bit of relief from wind and erratic conditions today (Tues.). However, Wednesday (Aug. 1) is expected to bring a chance of thunderstorms with winds, high temperatures and low humidity.
  • Mesa Fire: The blaze is 16 percent contained and has charred over 27,000 acres west of Cascade Reservoir. It's burning through dry grass on rolling hills and mountainous terrain sprinkled with timber. A host of personnel and equipment are battling the flames. Six helicopters are helping in the effort to put the fire down, seven bulldozers are assisting and 16 engines are on the scene. All told, over 350 people are participating in the fight. The fire is moving east, away from the town of Council which it was threatening. Officials don't expect a lot of fire activity Tuesday, but they're concerned about the chance of thunderstorms entering the forecast Wednesday.
  • Grassy Ridge Fire: Firefighters have gotten the upper hand on the blaze. Burning in eastern Idaho, the fire is over 85 percent contained. The massive fire tore through nearly 121 square miles. Crews are mopping up hot spot still burning in the interior of the fire. Work is also being done to sure up the land for the fall and winter. Dozers are putting in berms and working to get the blackened landscape ready for rain and the possibility of floods once wet weather returns to the region. No evacuations are in place for the Grassy Ridge Fire, and the town of Dubois -- which firefighters defended in a harrowing overnight battle -- is safe.

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Fire season has come to Idaho. Several blazes across the state are burning through the backcountry and causing problems for residents.

Weekend trips to McCall or other points north could be impacted by the blazes. As the name implies, the Mile Marker 73 / Highway 55 Fire is burning through grass and timber near the roadway close to the town of Gardena. Highway 55 is open without restrictions, but fire personnel will be operating along the roadway, and water-dropping helicopters may dip into the Payette River. Drivers are asked to use caution as they pass through.

Further north, the Rattlesnake Creek Fire is making its way through rugged terrain on the west side of Highway 95 near Riggins. The blaze is over 3,000 acres. The small town of Pollock is near enough to the flames to have authorities issue a pre-evacuation notice. That means residents should be packed and ready to go, should the situation intensify.

The lightning-caused Bruneau Fire continues to smolder along the state’s southern border with Nevada. It’s burning through grass and brush and has grown to encompass some 95 square miles. The weather won't be providing any breaks to firefighters. Daytime highs in the rural area near Murphy Hot Springs are expected to hover around 90 through the weekend.

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