LOWMAN — The Ridge Fire in the Boise National Forest 15 miles northeast of Lowman increased by nearly 1,000 acres between Friday evening and Saturday evening. The lightning-cause fire has now consumed 2,500 acres of mostly spruce trees and subalpine fir.
Many of the trees have branches low to the ground, which makes them easy to catch on fire, said David Olson, spokesman for the Boise National Forest.
They go up like a Roman candle, he said.
The fire, which began Tuesday and is 5 percent contained, has also been fueled by high winds and by dead trees killed by bark beetles and spruce budworm infestations over the past few years.
There are no roads into the area and firefighters and supplies have to be dropped in by helicopter. Crews, which total 286, are camping in the forest. Because of the access problems, abundant fuels and steep terrain, the fire isnt expected to be contained anytime soon, said Jason Curry, spokesman for the Great Basin Incident Management Team.
Its not something were going to be able to bring in firefighters and quickly put out the fire, he said.
About 50 Lowman area residents attended an informational meeting Saturday evening. They were told its unlikely the fire will head south toward town and peoples houses.
Its not beyond the realm of possibility, but we dont think it will happen, said Curry, who said the southern flank is a priority for firefighters.
The Warm Springs airstrip remains closed, as is OKeefe Loop (National Forest Road 545) and Red Mountain Road (NF 515).
Other fires burning in southern and central Idaho:
Pine Creek Fire This human-caused fire northeast of Boise increased by 419 acres between Friday evening and Saturday evening. With 455 firefighters attacking the 2,900-acre blaze, it is now considered 60 percent contained. Firefighters burned out sections along Grimes Creek Road to create an even fire line to assist with mop-up operations, officials said. Grimes Creek Road, which had been closed Friday, was reopened. Intermittent closures are expected as firefighters continue to reinforce containment lines. Camping is not permitted in public lands west of Grimes Creek Road and north of Pine Creek, although the lands themselves are open for daylight uses.
Papoose Fire For the second day in a row, this lightning-caused blaze near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River burned about 800 acres. The fire ignited on July 8 and is burning about 40 miles west of Salmon. It has consumed 6,470 acres It is burning through grass, brush and small stands of timber in a rugged, inaccessible area above the river. Gusty winds helped push the fire outward. The Salmon-Challis National Forest plans to close trails in the fire area on Sunday. Firefighters are patrolling the river corridor by boat to access campsites between Big Creek and Goat Creek. Boaters are asked to check in at the Flying B Ranch to obtain camp and fire information. Two new fires started on the Salmon-Challis forest. The Bradley Boy Scout Camp was evacuated Saturday afternoon after the Bradley Fire torched 250 acres of grass, brush and timber 13 miles northwest of Stanley. No injuries were reported. Ten miles west of Challis, 400 acres of grass, brush and timber burned in rugged terrain. Crews were working to keep the fire off private land.
Summit Fire This Boise County wildfire burned 110 additional acres on Saturday, increasing the total to 370 acres. It is considered 50 percent contained. It is burning subalpine fire, lodgepole pine and Douglas Fir. Crews will work Sunday to secure the perimeter and continue mop-up operations on the south end of the fire. Other efforts will take place on the northwest and northeast sections. The fire started Tuesday from a lightning strike and strong winds spread the flames. No structures are threatened. It is located 14 miles northeast of Idaho City and eight miles south of Lowman. A total of 307 firefighters are battling the blaze, up from 250 on Friday.
Thunder City, Bear Lake Fires Two new fires believed to have been caused by Wednesdays thunderstorm were discovered Friday in the Payette National Forest near the historic Stibnite mining district east of Yellow Pine, in Valley County. The Thunder City fire is estimated at 50 acres. Due to steep terrain and lack of safe areas, it has been difficult to fight the fire with ground crews. Smoke jumpers and a Hot Shot crew were pulled off the fire due to safety concerns. The Bear Lake fire is five air miles from the Thunder City blaze. It has burned about three acres and has not responded to aerial fire suppression efforts.
John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell