Update: Whiskey Complex fire destroys a cabin

Boise - The Idaho StatesmanJuly 18, 2014 

Fire behavior specialists at the Whiskey Complex fires east of Garden Valley say very dry vegetation more typical of late August than mid-July are making fire suppression efforts more difficult.

An unoccupied cabin haws been destroyed by the Whiskey Fire Complex — the first structure burned by the fires, which cover 5,740 acres along the South Fork of the Payette River, Boise National Forest spokesman David Olson reported about 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Boise County Sheriff Ben Roeber and Great Basin Incident Management Team No. 2 confirmed that a cabin was lost in the Mineral Mountain area of the complex sometime last night, Olson said. The cabin was unoccupied, and officials are trying to notify the absentee owner. The remote location of the cabin and the active fire around it prevented firefighters from saving the structure, he said.

Sheriff Roeber emphasized that despite the best efforts of firefighters they may not be able to protect structures in the fire area given the current weather, drought conditions and active fire behavior.

As of Friday morning, the Whiskey Complex fires were just 5 percent contained.

Additional resources, including 10 engines, three hand crews and four helicopters, arrived at the complex Thursday evening.

Olson said suppression efforts went well Friday, with little growth. And turnout from concerned citizens at a public meeting in Centerville far exceeded expectations, with around 100 people showing up with questions about the fires and how much lead time they’ll have if they need to evacuate, he said. Thursday night’s meeting in Garden Valley drew about 80 people.

Also on Friday, a new fire broke out on private timberland near Horsethief Reservoir, Bruce Stuart of the Southern Idaho Timber Protection Association said. The fire, estimated at less than 5 acres, was apparently human-caused, he said. By around 7 p.m. it was fully contained and in mop-up mode, a process expected to continue for another day or two, he said.

The fire was on a ridge above the YMCA Camp on the reservoir’s southwest side, Stuart said, but the camp was never threatened. The Boise National Forest contributed a hot shot crew, a helicopter and other resources to help fight the blaze, Olson said.

The Garden Valley Rural Fire Department has a contact line for residents who want more information: 462-3175. Boise County has an evacuation hotline number: 462-0552.

Here is the latest on closures and evacuations:

— Pioneerville (10 homes) and South Fork Payette River Road (60 homes) remain under a Boise County Level 2 Voluntary Evacuation. There have been no changes in the evacuation status according to the Boise County Sheriff. Grimes Pass Road is closed north of Pioneerville, along with the South Fork Payette River Road.

— The general area closure around the Whiskey Complex extends to points near Placerville, Centerville and Pioneerville. The Hot Springs Campground is closed. All other campgrounds are open.

— The Banks to Lowman Road, Highway 17, is open but is smoky and travelers should use caution. The fire is not affecting boating on the South Fork Payette River, though the area is smoky. Rafters should watch for helicopters that may be taking water from the river in the immediate fire area.

Find more information online about fires burning elsewhere at InciWeb.

View Whiskey Complex Fire update in a larger map



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