Fire crews in southern Idaho are now at a standoff with a fire that’s surrounded the resort town of Featherville. It’s been clear for days that the town’s businesses and summer homes are in the path of the 90-thousand-acre Trinity Ridge Fire east of Boise. But fire managers say they have to wait for the blaze to creep to lower ground before crews can fight it head-on.
Meanwhile, about 30 residents refuse to leave Featherville, despite an evacuation order over the weekend. Fire information officer Steve Till says sheriff deputies cannot force anyone out of their homes.
Managers at a blaze in north Idaho were warned about hazardous conditions the day before a 20-year-old firefighter died on the job. That’s according to an informal report by the head of a federal hotshot crew, which refused to work on the fire.
A thick smoke that's hovered over the Pine and Featherville areas for days now, lifted somewhat today giving fire crews and residents a break. But that smoke acted like a blanket, keeping the fire quiet. Now that blaze is knocking at Featherville's door. Mary Christensen is a fire information officer. She talks in absolutes. It's not a matter of "if" but "when" this 90,664 acre fires moves through Featherville.
When he was a kid, Mark Schmidt would fish for steelhead and salmon on the Molalla river. He’s stay with a friend in a little cabin on the banks.
“If we could so much as hear the raindrops on the shingles in the night, we were aware that we would not be fishing in the morning.”
The Molalla flows from the west slope of the Oregon Cascades. About half watershed is private forest land. Schmidt says in the 60s, the area was being heavily logged. When it rained the logging operations sent sediment pouring down the river.
Cars are stopped and asked to wait for a pilot car to lead them through Banner Summit on Highway 21. Officials urge drivers to be careful while traveling along these roads as there is heavy fire traffic and low visibility at times from the smoke.
Large wildfires continue to burn in Western states including in California, Oregon and Idaho. Hot temperatures and high winds have made fighting these fires tough.
It’s been especially tough for crews working on a wildfire burning 18 miles Northwest of Stanley. The fire, which has been burning since late July, picked up steam. And Tuesday night evacuation notices went out to people living along Highway 75 between what’s called Joe’s Gulch and the small community of Sunbeam. Evacuations have not been ordered for Lower Stanley.
Evacuations remain in place this morning for people living in Rocky Bar, Dutch Creek and Swanholm. That's due to the Trinity Ridge fire which is now at more than 23,000 acres. At eight percent containment, 406 people are working to build new fire line today.
The Halstead Fire near Stanley has already burned more than 34,000 acres. Many trees that have burned had already been killed by pine beetles.
Pine beetles have emerged as a serious problem for firefighters in the last decade. Russ Parsons works at the Forest Service’s Fire Lab in Missoula, Montana. He says warmer winters and denser forests have contributed to the spread of beetles.
Update: Saturday, August 4 The Halstead Fire is at more than 21,900 acres burning about 18 miles Northwest of Stanley. More than 330 people are now working on this lightning caused fire. It continues to burn through conifer forests and is moving through beetle killed trees.
The first sockeye arrived in Idaho’s Salmon River this week. That’s later than usual.
Most of Idaho’s sockeye come from the Salmon River. It’s also where they return to spawn. Tom Stuart is a salmon advocate. He says the endangered salmon species is more than two weeks behind schedule. That has him worried.
“It tells salmon advocates that the red fish of Redfish Lake are still at risk,” he says.