Idaho, California wildfires update

Statesman staff and wire reportsAugust 26, 2013 

AIR QUALITY

Hazy and smoky conditions from wildfires in Idaho and California persisted Monday in the Treasure Valley.

Visibility at the Boise Airport was mostly 10 miles but on a few occasions dropped to 8 miles, the National Weather Service in Boise said.

The state Department of Environmental Quality had issued a yellow, or moderate, air quality alert for Tuesday in the Valley.

IDAHO FIRES

The Beaver Creek Fire burning near Hailey and Ketchum had burned 111,408 acres by Monday evening, but fire managers said they were making good progress. The fire was 92 percent contained, and it was predicted to be fully contained by Saturday.

Although thunderstorms in the area dumped rain onto parts of the Wood River Valley, most of the moisture missed the fire.

A public meeting at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday. A second meeting will be held in Hailey at the Community Campus on Wednesday, also at 7 p.m.

Atlanta remained under mandatory evacuation because of the Little Queens Fire.

The fire had burned nearly 22,000 acres and was 15 percent contained. Estimated containment is Oct. 30.

Fire behavior remained high, officials said.

Resources were being sought to fight the 280-acre Kelly Creek Fire near Featherville.

The fire was sparked Saturday by lightning in Kelly Creek just south and west of the Baumgartner Campground area.

After increased fire activity, the Forest Service issued a pre-evacuation order effective at 8 a.m. Tuesday from Willow Creek to Skelton Creek. (Willow Creek is 6 miles east and upriver from the Featherville Bridge. Skelton Creek is above the Baumgartner Campground area).

The Elmore County Sheriff’s Office asks people who have put their campers in any area above Featherville to Skelton Creek in anticipation of the upcoming Labor Day weekend to retrieve their campers on Wednesday.

The Elk Complex near Pine has burned 131,258 acres since Aug. 8. The fire is 95 percent contained, with full containment expected by Aug. 31.

RIM FIRE

A raging wildfire in Yosemite National Park rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of San Francisco’s famously pure drinking water, and utility officials Monday scrambled to send more water toward the metropolitan area before it becomes tainted.

Nearly 3,700 firefighters battled the approximately 230-square-mile blaze, the biggest wildfire on record in California’s Sierra Nevada. They reported modest progress, saying the fire was 15 percent contained.

Utility officials monitored the clarity of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and used a massive new $4.6 billion gravity-operated pipeline system to move water quickly to reservoirs closer to the big city. The Hetch Hetchy supplies water to 2.6 million people in the San Francisco Bay area, 150 miles away.

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