A cloud of smoke from the 3,700-acre wildfire zoomed high in the air about 18 miles northwest of Stanley on Tuesday afternoon, but aside from some road and campground closures, it wasn’t affecting many tourists, river runners or other visitors.
“Business has been good all day,” said Steve Blankenship, who was working the counter of McCoy’s Tackle Shop in Stanley on Tuesday. “It’s far away.”
The fire is mostly in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area and far enough away that there wasn’t smoke or even its aroma in the Stanley Basin on Tuesday.
The wind was blowing north and northeast, pushing flames and smoke farther into the wilderness.
The fire is located on a ridge between Beaver Creek and Marsh Creek, which is a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It so far has not affected rafting on the Middle Fork, and the boat launch at Boundary Creek remains open.
The roads to Lola Creek and Beaver Creek campgrounds and the Cape Horn area are blocked because fire crews had a base camp set up in the area.
The Forest Service closed Beaver Creek Campground, Beaver Creek Camp Spur, Lola Creek Campground, Lola Camp Spur A, Marsh Creek Transfer and Josephus Lake. The road to the Camp Bradley Boy Scout camp is also closed, and there are some undeveloped campsites in the closure area.
When the fire started Monday, campers at Beaver Creek Campground could see flames on the ridge above them, said Jasmine Moore, a Forest Service employee who was stationed Tuesday at the road closure at Cape Horn.
The fire crews’ strategy is to contain the fire between Beaver Creek Road and Marsh Creek. Firefighters were building fire breaks along the road from the Beaver Creek Campground to Shake Creek.
A hotshot crew was working to put out a spot fire north of the Pinyon Peak/Seafoam Junction area about halfway to the Langer Lake Trailhead, a popular backpacking area.
Firefighters will allow the fire to move north and deeper into the wilderness, where fuel is sparse.
Officials don’t expect to put out the blaze but instead aim to keep it contained in certain areas.
A National Incident Management Organization Team is expected to take over command of the fire Wednesday, and the team’s base camp is being moved from the Cape Horn area to a large clearing off Idaho 21 along Valley Creek, where fire camps have been located in the past.
Large wildfires are not uncommon in the area. A 2,000-acre blaze burned in the Cape Horn area in 2010.
Even though the Halstead Fire is confined mostly to wilderness right now, campers and tourists are concerned.
“There’s flames,” said Nampa’s Janet Krepps, who was watching the fire from Idaho 21. “I’m a little nervous.”
She and her family were camped Tuesday at Bull Trout Lake, which is several ridges away from the fire and not likely to be in its path.
The fire danger remains high in the Idaho forests. The Salmon-Challis National Forest doesn’t have fire restrictions, but they are in effect in parts of the Boise National Forest.
Campfires are limited to fire rings inside designated campgrounds.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors