Unseasonable Cool Weather And Rain Help Battle Against Idaho Fires

Aug 28, 2018

A thick column of smoke rises from the Wapiti Fire burning near Grandjean Sunday, August 26. Cooler weather is helping firefighters make significant progress against the flames.
Credit Type 2 Incident Management Team

A sharp turn in the weather has made it feel more like fall, despite the calendar saying late August. The milder weather is helping firefighters across Idaho as they continue to battle flames in the backcountry.

Burning near Grandjean, the Wapiti Fire destroyed four cabins and a single outbuilding.

“The cabins were lost in the very first hours of the fire being reported,” says Mike Williamson, a Forest Service spokesperson.

He says the Wapiti Fire raged and grew quickly in its first hours on August 25. What sparked the blaze is under investigation. While the fire is still uncontained, Williamson says cooler, wetter weather Sunday into Monday helped check the growth of the conflagration.

The road leading to Grandjean is closed and evacuations remain.

“The sheriff evacuated the Sawtooth Lodge and all of those summer homes in the Greandjean area,” Williamson says. “There’s also area closures on the Boise National Forest and the Sawtooth National Forest.”

It’s a different story to the west at the Rattlesnake Creek Fire. The fire burning south of Riggins has blackened more than 8,000 acres and is over 40 percent contained.

Spokesperson Mary Fritz says the region where the fire is burning got over half an inch of rain Monday. That allowed authorities to lift all evacuations. In spite of nature’s help, Fritz cautions against reading too much into the erratic weather.

“We still have a lot of summer left,” Fritz warns. “You know, we can get some good heat into September, so folks still need to be cautious.”

People are thought to be responsible for igniting the Rattlesnake Creek Fire. The cause is being investigated.

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