Halstead Fire a long-term proposition

The Halstead Fire on the Salmon-Challis National Forest has burned more 18,500 acres, but winds thus far have pushed the fire to the northeast away from the town of Stanley. Boise State Public Radio reported that firefighters are focused on keeping the fire away from Highway 21.

Fire managers say the Halstead Fire will probably burn till the area experiences a “season-ending event.” Bruce Palmer, information officer on the NIMO team managing the fire, says the fire’s burning in rough terrain. “It’s nasty country with a lot of bug kill and heavy fuels,” he says. “And fire behavior has been extreme. The Halstead Fire will be a long-term event and will likely burn until September or even October.”

Halstead Fire morning inversion 07/31
Halstead Fire morning inversion 07/31

Though the fire is in the wilderness, crews will continue active suppression to keep the fire out of the Middle Fork of the Salmon and other recreation areas. The NIMO team managing the fire brings a lot of flexibility to the assignment; agency administrators sometimes prefer the NIMO team because of its long-term staffing option. “We can draw from the four different teams,” explains Palmer, “so we offer continuity in incident management for a fire that may burn for weeks or even months.” The NIMO teams aren’t subject to the 14-day time-outs in the same way that’s required of other incident management teams, because they can stagger their rest days or days off to maintain continuity of the command for the duration of the incident.

Several ranches and a Boy Scout camp were recently threatened by the fire; the camp was evacuated, according to the Idaho Statesman. The fire’s at 21,915 acres today with 332 personnel assigned.

Idaho fire gets NIMO team

The lightning-caused Halstead Fire northwest of Stanley, Idaho, is mapped at 5,047 acres. Resources assigned include six T1 crews, two T2 crews, two T1 helicopters and a T3 helicopter, two T6 engines, and two T4 engines.

Halstead Fire in Idaho
Halstead Fire in Idaho

The fire started on July 27 between Beaver Creek and Marsh Creek; it’s burning in subalpine fir and lodgepole pine. Firefighters are building fuel breaks along Beaver Creek Road; they’ve reported single and group tree torching on the fire. Houseman’s National Incident Management Organization team took command of the fire early this morning.

An Emergency Area Closure was issued yesterday for all access points to the Cape Horn Area, all access to the Seafoam Bubble, all access to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness east of the Middle Fork Wild and Scenic River Corridor, east of Bluebunch Ridge, and north of Lola Creek, the area northwest of the Knapp-Loon Trail and west of the Pinyon-Feltham Road. In addition, the Pinyon Peak Road in its entirety is closed.

Idaho man charged for shooting helicopter which was flying on prescribed fire

An Idaho man has been charged with shooting at and hitting a helicopter that was being used for aerial ignition on a prescribed fire in the fall of 2010. As Wildfire Today told you then, the pilot was 69-year old Vietnam War veteran Earl Palmer, operating the ship for Hillcrest Aircraft Company out of Lewiston, Idaho, assigned to a prescribed fire near Clarkia in Shoshone County

Mr. Palmer said there were four shots, two of which struck the helicopter. He was quoted as saying that a control tube was struck and cracked by a bullet, and that the helicopter was “within minutes of coming apart at which point the helicopter would have wrecked.”  He landed the ship immediately after it was hit.

The Lewiston Tribune reported in a story published May 26 that 58-year-old John Ernest Ross of Fernwood is scheduled to appear in 1st District Court in Wallace on July 10. He is being charged with interfering with or destruction of an aircraft, a violation of Idaho code.

Court records say Ross initially denied shooting at the helicopter, but later said he probably did but had been drinking and couldn’t remember.

The online article at the Lewiston Register web site displays a bit of irony. Below the article  is a display advertisement, probably automatically placed based on the content of the article. The ad says: “Tell Congress: Support the 2nd Amendment. Sign Petition.”, and has a photo of a revolver.