Wildfire northeast of Boise grows to 500 acres

July 15, 2013 

Multiple agencies were battling the Pine Creek Fire that broke out about 3 p.m. Monday approximately 15 miles northeast of Boise.

Officials said the fire started near Pine Creek Road and Grimes Creek Road. It was burning east from Grimes Creek Road toward Casner Mountain in the area of Warm Springs Ridge on the Boise National Forest.

Initially, the fire was estimated to be 50 acres. At 8:30 p.m., the Idaho Department of Lands reported that the fire had grown to 500 acres. No structures were threatened, and there were no major road impacts.

Grimes Creek Road past the junction to the Clear Creek subdivision was closed Monday night, but subdivision residents were still being allowed to reach their homes.

Approximately 120 personnel were fighting the fire, and another 150 firefighters were ordered to arrive Tuesday. Four engines, six single-engine air tankers, three helicopters, two heavy air tankers and other resources were also on scene.

There may be smoke along Idaho 21 in the area of the fire into early Tuesday morning, so drivers are urged to be careful.

The cause was under investigation late Monday. Agencies collaborating to battle the fire were the Clear Creek, Valley of the Pines, Wilderness Ranch and Idaho City volunteer fire departments, along with resources and personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Lands.The fire is in the IDL Southwest Forest Protective District.

OTHER WILDFIRE NEWS

A wildfire near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River had grown to about 3,700 acres by Monday evening. The Papoose Fire, which started July 8, is located about 40 miles west of Salmon.

The area’s difficult terrain was frustrating firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze. A fire crew initially rappelled into the site, but steep slopes and falling rock and debris stalled their attempts to fight the fire.

Crews have also struggled with burning material from the fire falling or rolling downhill, spreading the flames. The U.S. Forest Service has listed the terrain difficulty as “extreme.”

Mike McMillan, a public information officer for the U.S. Forest Service, said 35 personnel - including a Hot Shot crew - and three helicopters were fighting the fire Monday evening. Fuel was sparse, with flames scattered around a lot of rocks and cliffs, McMillan said, and the flames were bordered by some old fire scars.

A lightning strike likely sparked the fire.

McMillan said the blaze could spread 200 to 500 acres a day in normal conditions - as were being experienced Monday - with winds around 10 mph. But officials were unsure how some severe thunderstorms expected to come through the area Tuesday and Wednesday could affect the fire.

"Rain could miss it or help slow it down, McMillan said.

Rafters and boaters on the Middle Fork must check in at the Flying B ranch for updates. Some campsites may be off-limits as the fire shifts.

Those traveling on the river are warned to look out for falling rocks and trees, and be aware that smoky conditions can make it hard to see.

Another fire burning east of Riggins was also caused by a lightning strike. The Rough Creek Fire started Friday night and had covered about 650 acres,

A Type 2 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team from Montana took over command of the fire Monday morning.

Smokejumpers and several Hotshot teams were also working to contain the blaze, according to official reports. Fire engines were pushing the flames back from buildings near Allison Creek.

The Forest Service reported the closure of a broad area east and north of Riggins. That area begins at the Nez Perce National Forest boundary near Island Bar and extends north to a half-mile past Chair Creek. The eastern border of the restricted area starts one mile west of Spring Bar Campground and stretches two-and-a-half miles north. County Road 1614 (Salmon River Road) and Grangeville-Salmon Road #221 were not affected.

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