© 2021 Boise State Public Radio

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact us at boisestatepublicradio@boisestate.edu or call (208) 426-3663.
WebHeader_3.png
NPR in Idaho
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Thank you for supporting local news during our Fall Membership Drive!
Environment
00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71c90000Idaho's wildfire season is here, and that means you're going to be hearing a lot of firefighting jargon to describe what's going on.We put together this list of key firefighting terms you're likely to hear in the next few months.GlossaryHotshots: A highly trained hand crew of wildland firefighters that works on the ground to contain a blaze. Crews usually operate in 20-person teams, and are sent in first to deal with the worst fire conditions on short notice. Hotshots have a high level of physical fitness. They can carry up to 50 pounds along with a chainsaw and shovel. There are more than 100 hotshot crews around the country, and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise coordinates the crews.Hand crew: Wildland firefighters that could have different levels of training. They work on the ground with hand tools like shovels, chainsaws and axes. They dig fire lines (also called "firebreaks") to try and get the fire under control.Smokejumper: An elite firefighter that parachutes into remote wildland fires. They work to suppress and put out fires before they become a bigger problem, and can adapt to quickly changing situations. Smokejumpers have to be fit and highly trained. They carry heavy packs and protective suits and work in mountainous terrain. Idaho has three smokejumping bases in Boise, McCall and Grangeville.Fire lines or firebreaks: Usually about 10-12 feet wide, fire lines are cut with shovels and axes to contain and suppress a blaze. Hand crews -- including hotshots -- will dig lines and clear out brush so the fire will get choked off without fuel.Containment levels: The agency that manages a fire will say how "contained" a fire is. At 100 percent containment a fire isn't out. That means a complete fire line has been dug around the fire. A contained fire can quickly become out of control again with a shift in weather.Controlled fire: This is when a wildfire is considered out. Here's how the BLM office in Idaho Falls describes it: "Think of a container -- say, a mason jar. A fire is contained when it's all 'bottled in,' like in a container. The fire may still be burning, but if a distinct fire line is built around the entire perimeter so that there is no chance for the fire to escape or spot over outside the line, then the fire fighters declare the fire 'contained.' "Human caused: This means someone accidentally or intentionally caused a fire. This could be from a discarded cigarette, a embers from a campfire, or even sparks from a truck along a forested highway. As Smokey says, nine times out of 10, a wildfire is human-caused.Fire danger: This is a rating system from the U.S. Forest Service that helps predict how likely a wildfire could start in an area. It takes into account the weather forecast, terrain and personnel. "Low" means a blaze would likely not spread, while "moderate" means a fire could start but could be contained. "High" to "very high" means fires can catch and spread easily, while "extreme" means the conditions are so difficult and fast-changing that fighting the blaze directly is rare.Red flag warning: These warning are issued by regional National Weather Service offices, and help firefighting management teams understand the weather-related risks for fire starts. Drought and low humidity mixed with windy conditions usually spell a red flag warning. Burning bans sometimes come along with these warnings.Complex: Two or more larger wildfires in the same general area. A complex is managed by a unified team of firefighters.Air attack: Usually used during the initial stages of a small blaze, or as a suppression tool during large fires. Air attacks can drop fire retardant or water to help support hand and engine crews. Multi-engine or heavy air tankers, single-engine air tankers, and helicopters are the three most common types of aircraft that can be used. Multi-engine tankers carry the most retardant, while helicopters (or helitankers) can make more precise but smaller drops.Fire retardant: Also known as slurry, these USDA-approved chemicals are dropped by aircraft over wildfires that management teams believe could grow and become dangerous. It's often used to protect private property. A 2010 ruling from the U.S. District Court in Montana raised questions about its environmental effects.Incident management teams: Operating from level one through five, these teams of firefighters can be sent around the country to suppress fires. Type 1 and 2 IMT's often work on the most difficult and dangerous fires, and can include local firefighting resources.ResourcesWe also pulled together these key resources where you can find up-to-date information about wildfires.The National Interagency Fire Center coordinates fire management teams around the country, and is based in Boise. This year, NIFC predicted a higher level of fire danger in Idaho forests, while the grassland should get a bit of a break.The Bureau of Land Management's site will update Idahoans about fire restrictions on public land.InciWeb updates fire information around the country, giving handy info about road closures during the summer travel season. You'll also find maps, photos, and growth potential for a particular fire.And if you tweet, consider following these organizations and agencies for fire updates in 140 characters.

Beaver Creek Update: Fire Managers Believe The Blaze Is Now "Manageable"

Beaver Creek Fire, Wildfires
Darin Oswald
/
Idaho Statesman

Update, Aug. 19, 7:54 a.m.:  Officials in Blaine County say some homeowners evacuated because of the Beaver Creek Fire may be allowed to return home today.  But nothing has been announced this morning.  In the meantime, the sheriff is asking residents to be patient and not to try and return to their homes before evacuation ordered are lifted.

The Beaver Creek Fire is 8 percent contained - a slight decrease during the day Sunday.  It's burned 104,457 acres.  More than 1,100 people are in the Wood River Valley fighting the fire. 

Update, Aug. 18, 5:55 p.m.: The Blaine County Sheriff is urging residents wanting to return to their homes to be patient.  Through its website this afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office says the Beaver Creek Fire still poses a “serious threat”.  That’s despite a more optimistic tone early Sunday from fire managers about their progress.  Here’s the full text of today’s announcement:

August 18, 2013 2:30 p.m. Please be advised that the Beaver Creek Fire still poses a serious threat to the residents of Blaine County. INDIAN CREEK AND THE VALLEY CLUB STILL REMAIN UNDER MANDATORY EVACUATION ORDERS AT THIS TIME. Residents will be NOTIFIED IF AND WHEN IT IS SAFE for Indian Creek and the Valley Club to be returned to Pre-Evacuation Notice. Returning pre-maturely endangers the fire suppression effort, your personal safety and the safety of fire crews and law enforcement. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RETURN UNTIL POSTED. We will continue to analyze fire activity daily to determine when it is safe to allow residents to return to their homes. Return Notification Updates will be sent out to areas as soon possible. -Blaine County Sheriff's Office website

Update, Aug. 18, 10:45 a.m.: The Beaver Creek Fire grew just over 8,000 acres overnight to 100,916 or roughly 158 square miles. That means the area of the fire is now larger than the city of Denver, Colorado.

The Blaine County sheriff's office says all mandatory evacuation orders and pre-evacuation notices remain in effect until further notice. The sheriff's website reminds residents in the area not to attempt to return home until the all-clear is given.

Update, Aug. 18, 7:39 a.m.: Beaver Creek Fire managers say there was little new growth on the fire overnight, thanks to lower temperatures and higher humidity. The fire is 9 percent contained, up from 6 percent on Saturday. A spokesperson for fire managers says they think the blaze is now more “manageable”. 

Beaver Creek Fire spokesperson Shawna Hartman says this morning the firefighting team has a sense of optimism they hadn’t experienced before on this fire.

Beaver Creek Fire, Wildfires
Credit Inciweb.org
Here's a look at the most recent perimeter of the Beaver Creek Fire burning in Idaho's Wood River Valley. Aug. 18, 2013.

“You know, we still respect the power of this fire, and there’s still that concern that it can be extreme fire danger as it was before,” Hartman says. “But right now we’re going to take advantage of the break that nature has given us. And we’ve also gotten more resources in and that’s given us a boost as far as what we can accomplish on this fire.”

The number of personnel working the fire is 1,066.  Managers are hoping they won’t need additional resources. 

The Blaine County sheriff’s office says nearly 10,000 homes remain under mandatory evacuation orders or pre-evacuation notices.  The majority of the 2,300 homes under orders to evacuate are in north Hailey.

Twenty-four Idaho National Guard troops begin their work in the area Sunday. Their duties will include manning roadblocks and guarding evacuated neighborhoods.

Update, 6:38 a.m. Sunday:  We're waiting on the latest numbers from fire managers on acreage burned and containment percentage.  As of their last update, the fire had burned 92,754 acres.  Containment grew for the first time in several days Saturday, to 9 percent.

The Blaine County Sheriff's Office did not announce any new evacuations or issue any new pre-evacuation notices overnight.

Forecasters have announced another red flag warning for the area.  It will be in effect this afternoon and evening.

We're on the air with newscast updates this morning on KBSX 91.5 FM in the Boise area and KBSS 91.1 in the Wood River Valley. 

Update, 6:05 p.m. Saturday.: The Blaine County sheriff's office has issued mandatory evacuations for at least 2,250 homes and an additional 7,500 homes are preparing to evacuate if it becomes necessary as the Beaver Creek Fire continues to grow.

Public information officer Jonetta Trued says firefighters are doing everything they can to be proactive in protecting homes in the Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey areas.

“We’re installing sprinkler systems, we’re depriving the fire of fuel, we’re wetting down everything we can, and then we’re staying by those structures as much as possible,” Trued says.

She says the Beaver Creek Fire continues to be very active, fueled by high winds and low humidity.  

To date, eight structures have been destroyed in the fire, that includes one home.

Update, 2:35 p.m. Saturday: The Blaine County sheriff's office has ordered a mandatory evacuation for areas north of Ketchum. The Beaver Creek Fire is now estimated at 92,754 acres which is about 144 square miles.

Here's a complete list of all mandatory evacuations currently in effect:

  • Residents of Glassford Heights north to SNRA on both sides of Highway 75 including Fox Creek, Eagle Creek, Chocolate Gulch, and North Fork Trailer Park
  • Residents of Hailey west of River Street including Queen of the Hills Drive, Sherwood Forest and Della View Subdivision(Does not include Albertson's)
  • Greenhorn Gulch, Golden Eagle, and Timber Gulch south down to Treasure Lane west of Hwy 75
  • All East Fork north to Hospital bridge on both east and west sides of Highway including Broadway Run
  • All Indian Creek, Ohio Gulch, and Heatherlands (includes Valley Club)
  • Deer Creek from the Big Wood Bridge west
  • Treasure Lane south McKercher Blvd. including Aspen Lakes west of Hwy 75 (does not include Northridge)
  • Croy Creek Canyon from Big Wood Bridge west
  • Baker Creek on West side of Hwy 75 south to North Fork (SNRA Headquarters) including Easley. (Does not include Galena Lodge)

The cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley are still under pre-evacuation notice, which means residents should be prepared to leave if conditions worsen.

Beaver_Creek_Fire_8-16_Ashley_Smith_TN.jpg
Credit Ashley Smith / Times-News
Firefighters did airdrops on the Beaver Creek fire until sundown on Friday Aug. 16.

Update 12:30 p.m. Saturday: Some Hailey residents who were evacuated in the early morning hours have been allowed to return home. The people affected live west of River Street including Queen of the Hills Drive, Sherwood Forest and Della View Subdivision.

The area is now on pre-evacuation status. The same thing happened in Hailey late Friday afternoon when a mandatory order was lifted and some residents were allowed back. No mandatory evacuations in and around Sun Valley or Ketchum have been reversed.

Update, 9:00 a.m. Saturday: The latest update on acreage burned shows the Beaver Creek Fire grew by more than 25,000 acres overnight. A public information officer working with fire managers says the total acreage burned is now more than 92,700, or 144 square miles. Friday evening that figure was 64,236.

Fire information officer Rudy Evenson says the Beaver Creek Fire is being monitored 24-hours a day.

"We had winds gusting up to 30 mph, very dry air and the direction of the wind was blowing southwest to the northeast and a lot of the shape of the land in this area where fire is burning, a lot of valleys and ridges from the southwest to the northeast so they are lined up with the wind direction," says spokesman Rudy Evenson. 

Evenson says fire activity has slowed this morning but firefighters expect it to be very active again this afternoon. 

"If you imagine a barbecue with the lid on, it's kind of smoking in there and the coals are glowing but nothing is flaming up," he says. "What will happen later today as the sun heats up the Earth, the air rises and the winds start blowing, that's like taking the lid off the barbeque."

The Blaine County Sheriff hasn't issued any new evacuation orders or pre-evacuation notices since 3:30 this morning. Those are detailed below.

The sheriff's office is continuing to ask those evacuating to drive south out of the area on Highway 75. The Twin Falls Times-News reports the Red Cross has a shelter set up at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Beaver_Creek_Fire_Map_8-17.JPG
Credit InciWeb
The Beaver Creek fire crew by 25,000 acres from Friday to Saturday morning.

St. Luke’s Hospital in Ketchum remains open. Emergency room and inpatient services are running, and ambulances are available. But for non-emergency medical care, people are asked to go to St. Luke’s Clinic in Hailey.

Medical helicopters are being used on a case-by-case basis. A hospital spokesperson says the hospital plans to remain open under the pre-evacuation notice. Friday night, four patients were transferred but the ER remained open.

The Idaho National Guard is activating 24 soldiers to assist with fire-related operations in the Wood River Valley. Starting Sunday afternoon, the soldiers will staff checkpoints, patrol for looters and assist with evacuations. 

BCF_evacs.jpg
Credit Ashley Smith / Twin Falls Times-News

Community meetings are scheduled for 3:00 p.m. at the Community Campus and 7:00 p.m. at the Bigwood Presbyterian Church.  

Update, 5:38 a.m. Saturday: Boise State Public Radio is  covering the Beaver Creek Fire on-air this morning in addition to our coverage online. Host Samantha Wright will be live on KBSX 91.5 (KBSS 91.1 in the Wood River Valley) with updates throughout the morning, starting at 6:00. 

We plan to talk with a reporter covering the Beaver Creek Fire, as well as fire managers, and offer the latest on evacuations from the Blaine County Sheriff's Department. Here's where you can find us on-air. You can stream our programming by clicking on the 'KBSX News' button in the upper left corner of this page.

Update 5:14 a.m. Saturday:  The Blaine County Sheriff's Office issued new mandatory evacuation orders overnight.  The order was issued around 3:30 a.m. for those in Hailey who live west of River Street.  This includes Queen of the Hills Dr., Sherwood Forest and Della View subdivision. There are around 1,500 homes under mandatory evacuation orders.  The cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley remain under pre-evacuation notices issued Friday.

Here's a complete list of areas where police have told residents to leave:

*Residents of Hailey west of River Street including Queen of the Hills Drive, Sherwood Forest and Della View Subdivision(Does not include Albertson's) *Greenhorn Gulch, Golden Eagle, and Timber Gulch south down to Treasure Lane west of Hwy 75 *All East Fork north to Hospital bridge on both east and west sides of Highway including Broadway Run *All Indian Creek, Ohio Gulch, and Heatherlands (includes Valley Club) *Deer Creek from the Big Wood Bridge west * Treasure Lane south McKercher Blvd. including Aspen Lakes west of Hwy 75 (does not include Northridge) * Croy Creek Canyon from Big Wood Bridge west *Baker Creek on West side of Hwy 75 south to North Fork (SNRA Headquarters) including Easley. (Does not include Galena Lodge) - Blaine County Sheriff's Website

Highway 75 reopened Friday night after being closed for more than an hour. It remains open this morning.  Wildland firefighters from other Western states continue to arrive in the Wood River Valley to help fight the Beaver Creek Fire.  Firefighters from numerous Idaho municipalities are assisting with structure protection.

The latest update from fire managers shows another decrease in containment.  As of Friday evening, containment had fallen to just 6 percent.  The fire had burned 64,236 acres.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio