Soda Fire in Idaho nears containment

(UPDATED at 4:25 p.m. MT, August 18, 2015)

Fire managers are calling the Soda fire southwest of Boise, Idaho, 90 percent contained.

The demobilization process will begin today, August 18, and most firefighting resources will be reassigned to other fires in the west. The remaining crews and engines will continue to patrol, look for any smokes, and assist in the rehabilitation of containment lines.

As the Soda Fire nears 100% containment, a federal Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team is being convened to begin field work as early as Wednesday. The BAER Team of natural resource specialists will assess damage and design emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments for BLM lands. This assessment focuses on mitigating threats to life, property, and resources within the burned area over the next 3 years.

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team will be transitioning the Soda Fire to a local BLM Type 3 Team at 6am Wednesday, August 19, 2015.

This will be out last update on the Soda Fire unless there is a significant upward change in fire activity.

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(UPDATED at 9:18 a.m. MT, August 15, 2015)

Map Soda Fire

Map of the Soda Fire (red line) at 9 p.m. MT, August 14, 2015. The brown and red dots represent heat detected by a satellite as late as 10:05 p.m. MT, August 14, 2015. The fire was actively spreading near the location of the red dots at that time — the red dots were the most current. (click to enlarge)

Friday evening the Soda Fire only had one area that with a large amount of fire activity, and that was on the southeast side where the fire was spreading to the southeast in the direction of Murphy, Idaho. This fire is very hard for heat-sensing mapping systems to track because in many areas the vegetation is grass or light brush that ignites, burns up quickly, and may cool off before an infrared aircraft or heat-sensing satellite passes over.

The fire has burned about 265,000 acres.

From InciWeb, August 14, 2015:

The Owyhee County Dispatch issued notification for residents to prepare for evacuations in the Bailey Road, Reynolds Road near feedlot, China Ditch, and Wilson Creek due to extreme fire behavior caused by high winds and terrain that is aligned with the wind. Highway 78 open at this time.

There is limited air support at this time due to the very high winds (30-40 mph). A very large air tanker was used throughout the day in conjunction with crews and dozers to construct containment lines along the Willow and Reynolds Creek areas.

Friday afternoon the wind was gusting at 30 to 43 mph out of the southwest and later the northwest, while the relative humidity got as low as 8 percent at 7 p.m. The forecast on Saturday for the southeast portion of the fire is for 81 degrees, 18 percent RH, mostly sunny skies, and 10 mph winds from the northwest shifting to the north in the afternoon. With the lower wind speeds on Saturday the fire should not spread as quickly as it did Friday afternoon.

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(UPDATED at 12:36 p.m. MT, August 14, 2015)

soda fire

A tweet by KBOI at about 10:30 a.m. MT, August 14, 2015.

At 2 a.m. on August 14, the Owyhee County Sheriffs office recommended (but did not require) an evacuation near the Soda Fire for the Wilson Creek area south of Hwy 78 at milepost 16 through 18 due to increased fire activity. This area includes the Gibbons Hot Springs and the Hard Trigger Road. The Sheriff is asking people to please be prepared to evacuate. There are no mandatory evacuation orders in place on the Soda Fire.

The blaze is burning grass and sagebrush in Oregon and Idaho 14 miles southwest of Caldwell and 11 miles southwest of Nampa, Idaho (see the map below). The incident management team reports it has now blackened 265,000 acres.

Friday could be a big day on the fire, and dangerous for firefighters.  The area is under a Red Flag Warning from noon on Friday until midnight for southwesterly winds reaching 18 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph in the afternoon. Friday night the wind will shift to come out of the west and then the northwest. The relative humidity will dip to 10 to 15 percent Friday afternoon.

You can monitor the weather conditions updated once an hour at the Owyhee weather station, 5 miles west of the northern end of the fire. At 11:52 a.m. on Friday it recorded 85 degrees, 14 percent humidity, and southwest winds of 8 mph gusting to 17 mph.

soda fire

The red line represents the perimeter of the Soda Fire as mapped by an aircraft at 2 a.m. MT Aug 14, 2015. The white line was the perimeter the day before, and was an estimate Wildfire Today developed based on heat detected by a satellite.

Strong winds Thursday night caused increased fire activity in the Reynolds Creek and Wilson Creek drainages on the southeast flank of the fire. Over 300 additional firefighting resources were put in place to reinforce the line through the night.

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team led by Incident Commander Todd Pechota will shadow Great Basin Incident Management Team 5 Friday in preparation for assuming command of the southern section of the fire Saturday morning.

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(UPDATED at 5:50 p.m. MT, August 13, 2015)

Soda Fire Aug 13, 2015

Satellite image of the Map showing the Soda Fire, August 13, 2015, showing smoke drifting toward the northwest. The red dots represent heat. NASA.

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Fire near Boise Wednesday afternoon

Fire near Boise 7-22-2015

Richard McCrea sent us this photo he took of a fire near Boise Wednesday afternoon. It looks like three engines are taking care of the left side while a single engine air tanker completes a drop on the bottom end.

Mr. McCrea said the firefighter’s successful efforts were aided by rain as they stopped the spread.

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Campers rescued by boat on the Cape Horn Fire

A boater rescued campers who were stranded on the shore of a lake while the Cape Horn Fire was burning close to their camp site. The campers appeared to have a boat in their small cove that was partially submerged in Lake Pend Oreille. Near the beginning of the video you can hear a voice saying, “hey those people are waving to us.”

The people in the boat from which the video was shot were considering going in to rescue the individuals, and shouted “You’ll have to leave your stuff!”, but later another boat arrived that picked up the campers.

These photos are screen grabs from the video that was uploaded to YouTube by John Stenberg on June 6.

The 1,380-acre Cape Horn Fire in northern Idaho has destroyed six homes and two outbuildings. The incident management team reports that a fireline has been established around “much of the fire”, however some evacuations are still in effect.

Cape Horn Fire
Cape Horn Fire

Cape Horn Fire

The Tweet below is from a reporter, and includes some good photos of the fire. Click on them to see larger versions.

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BLM firefighter dies after training

BLMTerry Sonner, a wildland firefighter with the Bureau of Land Management, passed away yesterday, June 10, in Hammett, Idaho.

Below  is a statement from the BLM:

Boise, ID – Terry Sonner, a 33-year old Bureau of Land Management (BLM) firefighter, died yesterday morning after he and his fire crew finished physical training at the Hammett Guard Station. After he collapsed, his crewmembers immediately began medical treatment and called emergency services, but they were not able to revive him.

Sonner, survived by his wife and children, had an extensive wildland firefighting career. He began firefighting in 2001, and over the course of 14 years, he became the Fire Operations Supervisor of the Hammett Guard Station Engine Crew in Hammett, Idaho, for the Boise District BLM. Sonner worked in several BLM Districts, including Twin Falls, Idaho; Elko, Nevada; and Boise, Idaho.

“We have lost an amazing wildland firefighter. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and the wildland firefighting community,” said Andy Delmas, Boise BLM Fire Management Officer.

The cause of Sonner’s death is unknown at this time. BLM has appointed a team to assess the circumstances surrounding Sonner’s death, in hopes of preventing future incidents. Funeral services will be announced as soon as they are determined. Sonner’s family does not wish to be contacted; they ask for privacy during this sensitive time. For more information, please call (208) 384-3420.

We send out our sincere condolences to Mr. Sonner’s family, friends, and co-workers.

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Boise National Forest’s Crew 8 with Centennial Job Corp and Veterans

From the video’s description:

The Boise National Forest in Idaho has sponsored a wildland fire crew with the Centennial Job Corp and hired seasonal veterans. The military veterans have been key in the leadership on the wildland fire crew. This program is a career starting point and gives valuable experience for Job Corp students and military veterans.

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Man ordered to pay restitution for starting fire near Hailey, ID last year

A man convicted of starting the Colorado Gulch Fire west of Hailey, Idaho on July 6, 2014 has been ordered to pay $8,100 in restitution.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports that the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office determined that Mauricio Pedraza-Rodriguez, 19, started the fire by shooting fireworks from his vehicle. The fire burned 728 acres and forced the evacuation of 20 homes.

Mr. Pedraza-Rodriguez pleaded guilty to misdemeanor malicious injury of property by fire to public lands. In addition to the restitution, he also received a 90-day suspended jail sentence, two years of probation and 120 hours of community service.

The Bureau of Land Management has not so far sought restitution, but they expended $300,000 fighting the fire, while Wood River Fire and Rescue spent approximately $40,000.

The $8,100 Mr. Pedraza-Rodriguez has been ordered to pay will go toward repairing damage that occurred on private property.

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