Stormy Weather Could Pose Challenges For Idaho Firefighters

Jul 16, 2013

A handcrew member works on the perimeter of the Pine Creek Fire northeast of Boise.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Tuesday afternoon for the Boise National Forest and parts of the Payette National Forest. Dry and windy conditions could make firefighting efforts in those areas difficult and could spark new flames there's lighting. 

The Pine Creek Fire northeast of Boise has grown to 1,200 acres. The fire was started in the Boise National Forest on Monday and closed Grimes Creek Road, but officials say homes in the area are still safe.

People in the Treasure Valley have been breathing the smoke from this blaze since Tuesday morning. The Department of Environmental Quality reports air quality is still within a safe range.

More than 260 firefighters are working on the Pine Creek fire, but it's not contained. It's not clear how the blaze started, but officials suspect it was human caused.

On Wednesday a Type 2 Incident Management Team will take over coordinating resources for this fire.

Smoke plumes from the Pine Creek Fire in the Boise National Forest. The smoke could be smelled in the Treasure Valley Tuesday.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

In the Salmon-Challis National Forest, the Papoose Creek Fire is posing a different set of challenges for crews.  Mike McMillan is with the Forest Service in Salmon. He says the 4,400 acre fire is moving slowly and gaining between 500-1,000 acres a day. It's near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River so it's being watched closely so that rafters stay safe.

“[The fire is in] a lot of sparse, rocky, very steep country," McMillan says. "So it’s kind of squirming its way through rocks and dribbling down cliffs.”

McMillan says the bigger problem right now is the flash flood possibility in Lemhi County where last year's Mustang Fire Complex burned 340,000 acres. The National Weather Service put out a watch for flash floods in the area between North Fork and Salmon is a possibility until midnight tonight.