Two hundred boy scouts had to cut their camping trip short Monday and another 200 won’t be able to go at all. That’s because of a fire burning near the Bradley Boy Scout camp in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
The Halstead Fire is 15 miles north of Stanley and has burned 60 acres so far. Forest Service officials say it’s too dangerous for firefighters to fight on the ground because of fallen and dead trees. Ninety-two people are currently fighting the blaze from a distance, working to clear fire fuels and protect nearby campsites. A helicopter is also being used.
A total of 80 fires have burned on the Boise District of the Bureau of Land Management this year. Malloy Eils of the BLM says 61 of those have been caused by humans.
This ratio is pretty normal. Seventy-five-percent of fires in a season are usually human caused. Eils says what’s been on the rise, though, is the number of fires. She says it’s because of extra dry conditions.
UPDATE 10:20 PM: The BLM has estimated the fire to be around 1200 acres. Spokeswoman Mallory Eils told KBSX the fire's active flames have been controlled. The fire has burned only grass and sage brush. Eils says firefighters haven't set a date and time for containment.
Oregon's Governor John Kitzhaber declared a state of emergency Tuesday in response to wildfires that have burned more than 1,100 square miles in southeastern Oregon. Crews have gained the upper hand on the largest blazes in Harney and Malheur counties, but thunderstorms could start new fires this week.
The Governor's executive order directs state agencies to assist affected landowners and seek federal disaster assistance.
A sea of volunteers clad in yellow vests swarmed through the area that burned near Pocatello Saturday to help clean up the area. Some 2,000 volunteers helped. The Charlotte Fire burned more than 1,000 acres and destroyed 66 homes, damaging many others.
Volunteers came from around Eastern Idaho to cut down burned trees and help get construction crews access to damaged houses. Seventy property owners registered for help on Saturday.
The fire that burned 66 homes in Pocatello in June was human caused. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen says whoever started the Charlotte Fire doesn’t even know.
The sheriff believes there was no criminal intent. Nielsen says a spark from a dragging chain on the road could have started it. He says this fire could have been prevented by being aware and taking precautions with such dry conditions.
Officials say the massive Long Draw fire in South East Oregon stopped actively burning over the weekend. The fire consumed more than 900 square miles of rangeland. Amelia Templeton reports, ranchers are searching for their cows.
The night the fire started, Jeanette Yturriondobeitia saddled a horse and rode out to meet the flames. She and her husband tried to drive their cattle to safety.
One hundred thirty two of the cows died. Now Yturriondobeitia is bringing water and painkillers to the surviving cattle.
UPDATE 4:10 PM: The Boise County Sheriff issued a voluntary evacuation notice for people living in the Clear Creek subdivision. That’s because the Avalene fire is burning about a mile away from homes. The subdivision is off Highway 21 about halfway between Boise and Idaho City.
David Olson, a spokesman for Boise National Forest, says the fire has burned 250 acres so far and is not contained.
Update 10:30 PM: More fires popped up Tuesday afternoon across several regions of Idaho. At the same time, firefighters continued to make progress on the state’s largest fires. Lightning strikes and human activity are both being blamed for the latest batch of fires.
Several tiny fires burning parts of the Boise National Forest in Boise County are threatening homes. Residents of the Clear Creek subdivision have been encouraged to evacuate. Authorities say the fires have been as close as ¼ to ½ mile from houses.
About 300 firefighters have been working to put out Idaho’s largest wildfire burning in the state’s south central desert lands. Twelve aircraft and more than 30 pieces of ground equipment have been used on this blaze. All of these efforts to stop a fire cost millions of dollars.
At the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, big monitors in command central show… cable news, and phones ring sporadically. But a few weeks ago when destructive fires burned in Colorado and around the west, this room was controlled pandemonium as people marshaled firefighting efforts.
Update 7:40 a.m.: The Benwalk Fire burning near Mountain Home shut down I-84 for several hours Monday night but this morning the freeway is back open. The blaze grew over night to an estimated 15,000 acres.
Update 10:30 p.m.: Thunderstorms that moved through southern Idaho Monday sparked several new fires around the state. The Benwalk fire near Mountain Home is now around 12,000 acres. At this hour I-84 remains closed and evacuations have been issued.
As wildfires continue to burn in parts of Idaho and elsewhere in the West, an eastern Idaho town is reeling from a devastating fire that destroyed nearly 70 homes a week ago.
The Charlotte Fire took homeowners in Pocatello by surprise. Steve Leaman lost everything.
"By the time I got to the cabin, I heard this noise and I thought 'it was the fire plane, it’s the fire plane - my cabin is saved'," he says. "It wasn’t a plane, it was a wall of fire come off that hill rolling like a wave off the ocean.”