Halstead Fire Near Stanley Expected To Burn Through October

Aug 3, 2012

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.

Update - Friday, August 3: After burning for one week the Halstead Fire has blackened more 18,500 acres in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Strong winds late Thursday spread the flames northeast away from Stanley. Fire officials say a shift in wind Friday afternoon gave Challis some relief from the smoke, but sent it toward Salmon.

Cyclists watch smoke from the Halstead Fire.
Credit Sadie Babits / Boise State Public Radio

Firefighters are staying out from in front of the fire for safety reasons. They are focusing on keeping it away from Highway 21 which has remained open. Officials say the Halstead fire will continue to burn until October unless heavy snow comes to the area before then. They do plan to maintain an active suppression effort to keep the fire from reaching the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and other areas that are important to the state’s tourism economy.  

Thursday, August 2: Fire officials will hold a public meeting in Stanley Friday night to discuss the growing Halstead Fire. The blaze is now more than 10,000 acres and is about 20 miles away from the popular summer destination town in the Sawtooth Recreation Area.

A national team took over firefighting operations on Wednesday.  At the meeting team leaders will share their strategy.

Right now, that strategy is to keep the fire away from Highway 21, a boy scout camp, and several ranches.  The camp was evacuated earlier this week.

Officials say the fire may burn for up to six weeks if there's no major changes in the weather.  Stanley has only suffered mild inversions so far.

The meeting will take place at 7 P.M. on Friday at the community center in Stanley.

Wednesday, August 1: The Halstead Fire near Stanley has grown to 5,000 acres.  

The blaze is heading northeast, away from Stanley.  Karen Dunlap with the Salmon-Challis National Forest says firefighters will hope to keep it that way.  

If the fire burns north, it can spread into wilderness area without threatening homes.  If it shifts too far east, roads used by firefighters would be closed.

A national team is now in place to assess the fire.  Dunlap says the extra help is needed.

"Those teams have a lot more experience with these tricky sports of situations and they're able to think of logistics and operations, tactics, that we might not think of here," Dunlap says.

Right now, there's no containment on the fire.

Highway 21 between Boise and Stanley is safe from the fire, as well as the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Tuesday, July 31: The Halstead Fire near Stanley has now burned almost 4,000 acres. Monday, it had only burned 60 acres. Karen Dunlap with the Salmon-Challis National Forest says it’s burning in difficult terrain. That means firefighters can’t work on the ground to put the blaze out.

Dunlap does not think the fire will be contained soon.

“It’s fairly early in the fire season for the Salmon-Challis so we have a lot of time that things could continue to burn,” Dunlap says.

She says at this point, firefighters are trying to herd the flames north, away from Stanley and the Salmon river.

“We’ve been able to try to keep things from impacting safety and allowing the public to be able to use the area around Stanley,” Dunlap says.

The town has enjoyed clear and beautiful skies today, say city officials. They have gotten several calls though, with tourists wondering if it’s safe to vacation around Stanley. So far, the answer is yes.

A few campers have been ushered out of nearby camp grounds though, including 200 boy scouts at Bradley Boy Scout Camp earlier this week.