String of roadside fires put out near Montour

Idaho StatesmanJuly 27, 2013 

— A sparking vehicle apparently caused a series of 19 fires along Idaho Highway 52 on Friday night between Black Canyon Reservoir and Horseshoe Bend.

The fires burned a total of about 50 acres on the south side of the highway in Gem County and a small portion of Boise County. Flames were fueled by grass, brush, slash piles and timber, according to a report from the Boise Interagency Dispatch Center.

Several homes, barns and other structures are located along that stretch of road. The only damage was to an outbuilding that contained hay and a water pump near Royston Hot Springs, located between the reservoir and the Sweet-Ola Highway, said Chief Rick Welch of Gem County Fire District No. 1 from Emmett.

"It could have been a lot worse," said Welch, whose department sent four trucks and nine firefighters to battle the blaze.

Welch said he was told a vehicle that apparently was responsible for causing the fires was stopped in Horseshoe Bend and the driver informed of the situation.

A similar series of fires took place within the past 10 years, Welch said, only the trail went the opposite direction, from the hot springs to Black Canyon Dam, located five miles northeast of Emmett. It was also caused by sparks coming from a vehicle.

"When we heard there were multiple fires, that was the most likely explanation. Officers were asked to look for sparks coming from a car or truck," Welch said.

The fires were reported by the BLM lookout on Squaw Butte above Emmett at 7:09 p.m. Passersby also made calls to 911. Fire District No. 2 from Sweet also responded to the fires.

Firefighters remained at the scene until 1 a.m. today, Welch said. Crews from the Sweet department and the Bureau of Land Management remained to monitor the scene overnight and this morning.

Officials from the Gem County and Boise County sheriff's offices and Chief Jim Heikes of Gem County Fire District No. 2 were not immediately available this evening to provide further details.

John Sowell: 377-6423

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