Wildfires dodge downpour, but cooler weather aids firefighters

September 3, 2013 

A storm that drenched Boise Tuesday morning was not as powerful over Idaho’s wildfires.

The rain missed the Weiser Complex altogether, but its outlook is far from grim, officials say.

“Progress is being made,” fire information officer Robyn Broyles said Tuesday afternoon. Crews have the Hells Canyon Fire completely contained, and the Raft Fire is listed as 60 percent contained.

Firefighters will continue to work to reinforce fire lines around the Hells Canyon Fire, Broyles said.

And although the downpour missed the Raft Fire, the wet weather is proving helpful to firefighters.

“We did not get rain on the fire, but what is helping is we got higher relative humidity,” she said.

The blaze is currently listed at 25,439 acres, but that number may increase with more accurate aerial mapping. The acreage likely increased Monday night when the fire made a run north, Broyles said.

The Kelley Fire was luckier: a few sections of the 14,867-acre blaze received rainfall, fire information officer Jennifer Myslivy said.

“Here at the incident command post we’ve had showers since about 8:30 last night on-and-off throughout today,” she said. “It’s been sporadic across the fire area, so some areas have got it while others have not.

“With the cooler temperatures and the cloud cover, that’s definitely helping keep the fires down,”

The Kelley Fire, which is burning seven miles southeast of Featherville, is at 10 percent containment.

Cloudy skies and a departure from the searing heat are also welcome relief to firefighters working to contain the blaze.

“Right now, the crews are trying to take advantage of the cooler temperatures,” Myslivy said. “They’re putting direct line in where they may not have been before because it was too hot.”

The fire grew about 1,000 acres since Monday night, Myslivy said. Compared to recent jumps of 5,000 or 6,000 acres per day, that is an improvement, she said.

Crews in Blaine County are cleaning up clumps of mud and debris that have been washed down hillsides scorched and left bare by recent wildfires. The Times-News reports that up to 18 inches of mud covered at least one public road outside of Hailey.

Heavy rains that passed through the area Monday and Tuesday flushed mud and debris into several other roads that access subdivisions threatened by the Beaver Creek Fire.

So far, Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey says no homes are threatened by the mudslides. But some homeowners are hiring private contractors to help clean up driveways and private roads.

Fire officials declared the 170-square-mile fire contained Monday.

The Associated Press contributed.

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