House saved, resident evacuated in grass fire on Highway 21 past Lucky Peak Dam

Idaho StatesmanAugust 20, 2013 

— Firefighters saved a home from burning along Highway 21 north of Lucky Peak Dam after a grass fire ignited late this afternoon and quickly spread to 600 acres of grass, sagebrush and bitterbrush.

The resident remained in his house as flames got closer before deciding to leave, said David Olson, spokesman for the Boise National Forest.

"He stayed a while and then decided to leave after it became apparent the situation was becoming more dangerous," Olson said.

Crews hoped to have the fire contained by midnight. The fire's forward progress was stopped by 8 p.m. but additional work was needed to secure the fire lines.

Idaho Power cut electricity to more than 3,000 customers to prevent damage to its lines and to prevent other fires from igniting from the use of fire retardant being dropped by planes flying over the blaze.

Customers in east Boise, along Idaho Highway 21, Idaho City, Centerville, Placerville and Robie Creek in Ada and Boise counties were among those affected. Service was restored to some areas later in the evening.

Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the cities of Boise and Eagle and the Valley of the Pines Rural Fire Department responded to the blaze.

Click here for video footage of the flames

Idaho 21 at Milepost 14, near the old Hilltop Cafe, was closed in both directions. Traffic was backed up several miles by mid-evening. The highway was reopened to one lane of traffic, led by a pilot car, by 8 p.m.

Six structures, including a barn and another outbuilding, were destroyed. Firefighters worked to protect a Lucky Peak helicopter base, a nursery, the Rocky Mountain Research facility and a Forest Service residence, Olson said.

"It's been windy out there, which definitely fanned the flames," Olson said.

Three helicopters, four BLM and two Forest Service engines, along with eight structure fire engines and two bulldozers have been used to fight the fire. Five additional engines and a third bulldozer have been requested, Olson said.

The fire is burning on Forest Service, Idaho Department of Lands property and private land.

Click here for footage Wednesday morning of the fire's aftermath

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