Idaho: multiple fires east of Boise

(UPDATE at 10:50 a.m. MDT, August 19, 2013)

Map of Beaver Creek fire

Map of Beaver Creek Fire at 1 a.m. MDT, August 19, 2013

The Beaver Creek fire has not spread as much in the last two days as it did last week. This is due in part to the fire hitting the footprint of the 2007 Castle Rock Fire west of Ketchum, which can be seen on the map below posted on August 17.

The interior of the fire was active Sunday and there was some fire growth on the north and south ends of the fire. Red Flag conditions, including higher temperatures and wind gusts to 38 miles per hour, increased fire activity on the Beaver Creek Fire Sunday afternoon and evening. 1,150 firefighters working with 10 helicopters and 8 bulldozers expanded fire lines while large unburned areas within the fire lines and along the north and south edges of the fire sent columns of smoke 15,000 feet into the air. The fire is now 104,457 acres in size

The fire area is under a Fire Weather Watch on Monday.

Beaver Creek Fire

Beaver Creek Fire, old school and new school. InciWeb photo.

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(UPDATE at 1:33 p.m. MDT, August 17, 2013)

Map of Beaver Creek fire at 2 am MDT, August 17, 2013

Map of Beaver Creek fire at 2 a.m. MDT, August 17, 2013 (click to enlarge)

Extreme fire behavior occurred on the Beaver Creek Fire again on Friday, prompting additional evacuations, preevacuation warnings and the ordering of additional resources. The fire was active in the Greenhorn Gulch, Deer Creek, Dollarhide, and Baker Creek areas. The Baker Creek head of the fire produced a massive pyrocumulous column, while fire whirls, torching trees, and crown fire were visible from Hailey and the Highway 75 corridor leading to Ketchum.

At least one home, a bunkhouse and five other structures have been destroyed. However, the exact number of structures destroyed or damaged on August 15 is unknown. At least one primary residence was destroyed and there was damage to several others. The bridge on FS road 227 which connects Ketchum and Fairfield was destroyed. The loss of multiple outbuildings is certain. One Remote Automatic Weather Station (RAWS) was also destroyed.

 

As of Friday evening, 698 personnel and 14 helicopters were assigned to the fire, which grew by tens of thousands of acres on Friday and has now burned 92,754 acres (140 square miles). Hundreds more firefighters have been ordered.

Beaver Creek Fire pyrocumulus

Beaver Creek Fire pyrocumulus as seen from the McCan Fire. Photo by M. Morcom.

Aviation efforts have been hampered by a temperature inversion in the mornings, which traps smoke in the valleys and limits visibility. Once the inversion and the smoke disperses, fire behavior increases significantly, producing more heavy smoke, again makes flying difficult and dangerous.

The Blaine County Sheriff’s Office evacuated the East Fork area between Hailey and Ketchum affecting 1,600 homes, and issued preevacuation warnings for Ketchum and Sun Valley, as well as many other residential areas around Hailey and Ketchum. The latest information on evacuations can be found at www.blainesheriff.com. Highway 75 has been closed intermittently because of fire, smoke and firefighting operations.

Firefighters have been conducting burnout operations around the community of Hailey. Managers at the Sun Valley Ski Resort near Ketchum turned on water cannons that are normally used for snowmaking.

Some insurance companies have sent contracted engine crews to protect homes that range into the millions of dollars.

CNN has some impressive photos of the fire taken from someone’s back yard in Hailey yesterday as it worked it’s way down a hill toward the town.

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(UPDATE at 5 p.m. MDT, August 16, 2013)

Map of Beaver Creek fire at 1 a.m. MDT, August 16, 2013

Map of Beaver Creek fire at 1 a.m. MDT, August 16, 2013 (click to enlarge)

The Beaver Creek Fire has been extremely active for the last two days. It has grown to at least 64,000 acres and is approaching Highway 75 between Ketchum and Hailey.

Evacuations are underway for several areas. Details can be found at InciWeb and the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office web site.

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(UPDATE at 8 a.m. MDT, August 14, 2013)

Map of fires east of Boise at 2 a.m. MDT, August 14, 2013

Map of fires east of Boise. The red lines are the perimeters at 2 a.m. MDT, August 14, 2013. The pink lines are from about 48 hours earlier. (click to enlarge)

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(UPDATE at 10 a.m. MDT, August 13, 2013)

The Elk Fire

The Elk Complex was near the Incident Command Post on August 11, 2013 (InciWeb Photo)

The large fires east of Boise continue to expand.

  • Pony Complex — 143,000 acres, 6 structures burned. The fire is still exhibiting a high resistance to control and has been pushing to the south and east threatening the Highway 20 corridor.
  • Elk Complex — 98,413 acres, 16 structures burned. The fire continues to move up the river corridor on the west side from Pine towards Featherville. The Incident Management Team plans to push the northern portion of the fire into the Trinity fire from last year.
  • McCann — 23,860 acres, 9 structures burned. Little other information is available.
  • Beaver Creek — 32,211 acres, 2 structures burned. This fire has grown by about 10,000 acres in the last 24 hours. Firefighters are scouting areas where direct attack will be effective. Aviation resources are working to prevent the fire from spreading east into the Deer Creek drainage. Other efforts will focus on the northwest, where the fire crossed Warm Springs Road on Sunday night.
Map of fires east of Boise

Map of fires east of Boise at 2:50 a.m. MDT, August 13, 2013

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(UPDATE at 11 a.m. MDT, August 12, 2013)

Elk Complex

Elk Complex as seen from base camp. InciWeb photo.

At least 31 homes have been destroyed in the three large complexes of fires east of Boise, Idaho which have burned almost a quarter of a million acres.

Map of Beaver, Pony, and Elk Complexes, 10 p.m. August 11, 2013

Map of Beaver, Pony, and Elk Complexes, 10 p.m. August 11, 2013 (click to enlarge)

  • Pony Complex — 119,543 acres, 6 structures burned. The fire has been active on all sides and is very close to merging with the Elk Complex. Evacuations have taken place in Mayfield, Canyon Creek, and the Danskin and Bennett Mountain Lookouts.
  • Elk Complex — 90,249 acres, 14 structures burned. Evacuations took place Sunday in the Pine and Prairie areas. Firefighters are implementing strategies to protect structures in the Pine and Featherville corridor, hoping to keep the fire from spreading east of the Pine Featherville Road (FH61). The fire was most active Sunday on the east flank and west of Anderson Ranch Dam.
  • Beaver Creek Complex — 34,870 acres, 11 structures burned. Beth Lund’s Type 1 Incident Management Team arrived Sunday and received a briefing on the Beaver Creek Fire. Beginning Monday, the Beaver Creek and McCan Fires will be managed separately, with John Kidd’s Type 2 Team retaining command of the McCan Fire. The McCan Fire, the easternmost of the two fires, was less active Sunday than the other fires in the area. Most of the activity on the Beaver Creek Fire was on the east and north sides.

HERE is a link to a satellite view of the fires that shows massive amounts of smoke being generated.

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(UPDATE at 11:33 a.m. MDT, August 11, 2013)

Elk Complex fire

Elk Complex as seen from Little Camas Reservoir August 10, 2013

While some progress has been made on the fires east of Boise, they continue to spread. Firefighters are using the term “extreme” to described the fire behavior on the three complexes of fires.

Map of fires east of Boise at 3:05 a.m. MDT, August 11, 2013

Map of fires east of Boise at 3:05 a.m. MDT, August 11, 2013, showing heat detected by a satellite. (click to enlarge)

  • Pony Complex — The fire has grown to 100,090 acres. Evacuation orders are in place for approximately 200 homes in the Mayfield area including Regina, Indian Creek, and Baseline Roads. Burnout operations are being conducted to protect Mayfield. Wilde’s Type 2 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire at 6 p.m. August 10. Carrie, a spokesperson for the fire told us that she thought, but was not sure, that the fire had burned into the Elk Complex.
  • Elk Complex — This fire has now burned 80,365 acres. It was extremely active Saturday and moved approximately four to six miles northeast. The incident management team has a report that the lodge in Falls Creek and approximately 20 structures have not been damaged by the fire, but it is believed there is structure loss further up the drainage. There is a concern that the fire may move north out of the South Fork Boise River corridor and affect areas west of Prairie. Rich Harvey’s Type 1 Incident Management Team has assumed command of the fire.
  • Beaver Creek Complex — The two fires in this complex, the McCan and Beaver Creek Fires, have each burned around 24,000 acres for a total of 47,980 acres. Significant progress was made Saturday on the southern portions of the fires in the lower elevations. The satellite data shows they were not quite as active as the Elk and Pony Complexes. Firefighters worked to secure portions of fire line with assistance from helicopters which dropped water on flare-ups and hot spots. Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) made several retardant drops on the fire perimeter, and a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) also made four retardant drops. Kidd’s Type 2  Incident Management Team has assumed command of the complex.

The maximum relative humidity at the Deer Haven weather station south of the fires only got up to 18 percent overnight.

The weather forecast for the fire area for Sunday predicts 88 degrees, a relative humidity in the low teens, and 8 mph south winds. The relative humidity Sunday night will be much higher than Friday night, and should reach 68 percent but is expected come back down to 10 percent on Monday.

No maps for any of these fires have been provided for the public by the incident management teams, so we are relying on the satellite data shown in the map above.

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(Originally published at 11:47 a.m. MDT, August 10, 2013; updated at 12:15 MDT, August 10, 2013)

Pony Complex fire

Pony Complex, InciWeb photo

Several large fires are burning 25 to 70 miles east of Boise, primarily north of Highway 20, and north of Mountain Home, Hill City, Corral, and Fairfield.

The map below shows heat that was detected by a satellite at 4 a.m. MDT, August 10.

Map of fires east of Boise at 4 a.m. MDT, August 10, 2013

Map of fires east of Boise at 4 a.m. MDT, August 10, 2013. The squares represent heat detected by a satellite. (click to enlarge)

Some of the fires in the area include:

  • Pony Complex, 30,000 acres 12 miles northeast of Mountain Home. Includes the MM 111 Hwy. 20, Long Tom, and Mudd fires which were ignited by lightning Thursday, August 8. Numerous structures are threatened and evacuations are in effect. Wilde’s Type 2 Incident Management Team has been mobilized.
  • Elk, 10 miles southwest of Pine, 19,193 acres. Lightning ignited several fires Thursday, August 8 which burned together. Structures are threatened and evacuations are in effect. Harvey’s Type 1 Incident Management Team will assume command of the fire at 6 p.m. Saturday.
  • Beaver Creek Complex, 25,000 acres, 4 miles northwest of Fairfield. This complex includes the McCan and Beaver Creek Fires. Firefighters report extreme fire behavior. Structures are threatened and evacuations and area closures are in effect. Kidd’s Type 2  Incident Management Team was mobilized August 8 for the McCan Fire.

The U.S. Forest Service has ordered two additional MAFFS C-130 air tankers from the military, bringing the total number of activated MAFFS up to four.

The Eastern Great Basin Geographic Area, which includes southern Idaho, raised the Preparedness Level (PL)  to 5 on Friday, which is the maximum possible. This was done approximately three hours after raising it from 3 to 4. The national PL was increased to 4 on Friday. More information about PLs can be found on the NIFC site.

There could be competition between fires for resources, since over the last 24 hours 20,000 lightning strikes were recorded in Washington, and so far 60 new fires have been discovered.

Below is the analysis distributed by the National Interagency Fire Center on August 1 that showed above normal wildfire potential for Oregon and central Idaho, as well as areas in California, Montana, and Nevada.
wildfire potential August, 2013

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

3 thoughts on “Idaho: multiple fires east of Boise

  1. I’ve subscribed to WildlandFireLC and BLMNIFC on youtube, and some of the videos I’ve watched have mentioned how often extremely extreme behavior occurs in Idaho, and in the Salmon-Challis forest in particular. That sudden long runs — usually towards the northeast are common.

  2. Thank you so much for your reports on these fires, we live extremely close and you are giving us the best information we can get. From a fellow wild land firefighter ( 76-86) thank you.

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