Rattlesnake Creek Fire In Western Idaho Grows; East Idaho's Rabbit Foot Fire Uncontained

Aug 17, 2018

With its distinctive double rotors, a Chinook helicopter helps in the fight against the Rattlesnake Creek Fire burning south of Riggins.
Credit Manbee Mignerey / Southwest Area Type 2 Incident Management Team 3

Wildfires across Idaho continue to burn through rough terrain that hasn’t seen flames in decades. One big blaze in eastern Idaho is uncontained and another in the west is growing.

The Rabbit Foot Fire burning north of Challis has charred more than 47 square miles and is being fought by over 600 people. Vince Mazzier, the spokesman for the fire, says the backcountry that’s burning is so remote, specialist rappel crews are being used for the initial attack.

“A rappel crew flies in a helicopter and actually hooks onto a rope much like mountain climbers do, and slides down the rope onto the ground close to the fire’s edge,” Mazzier explains.

He says unstable air moving into the area could bring storms and powerful winds.

In the west, south of Riggins, the Rattlesnake Creek Fire has grown. Containment was at 43 percent previously, but that’s gone down to 31 percent due to wind-driven runs along ridgetops. Al Koss says the rapid expansion prompted evacuations.

“A Level 3 or ‘go’ situation for evacuation for the Hillman Estates and Boulder Creek area,” says Koss. “People to the north and to the south are still in the ‘set’ position; they should have all of their things ready to go.”

Koss is with Southwest Area Incident Management Team 3. He says over the weekend the fire will be transitioned to a Type 1 incident. That means the complexity of the fire has gone up and more resources will be made available to fight the flames. 

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