The Walker Fire eight miles southwest of Idaho City grew from 2,500 acres Monday morning to 3,400 by the end of the day, but most of the fire spread north, away from structures.
The northwest flank is growing to the north into heavy timber in U.S. Forest Service lands. Meanwhile, the southeastern flank is slowly creeping toward Highway 21.
“At least it’s going north. No one lives up there,” said Bill Balding, who lives in the Clear Creek subdivision about a mile south of the fire.
Balding and his wife, Barbara, have resided there 20 years and it’s the first time a fire has burned nearby, he said.
Smoke was heavy Monday morning in Clear Creek, Balding said, as it was in the Treasure Valley. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued an unhealthy red air quality alert Monday morning for Ada and Canyon counties, and later extended it through Tuesday.
On Monday afternoon, the Boise School District canceled all outdoor events and activities because of the lingering smoke.
Because of the fire, travel is prohibited on Grimes Creek Road from the intersection at Clear Creek Road to Centerville Road. Travel is also prohibited along Forest Service Road 311 and Wildcat Gulch Road.
Residents along Macks Creek, Wolf Creek and Pine Creek were evacuated over the weekend. The evacuation order is still in effect.
Four structures were destroyed by the fire over the weekend. Three were cabins and the owners are being notified.
On Sunday, firefighters focused heavily on protecting structures and establishing a fire line close to where the fire started near homes in the Clear Creek subdivision. High winds are not expected Tuesday, but homes in that area — near the southwest corner of the fire — may still be in danger if the wind shifts, fire managers said.
Thirteen fire engines, six hand crews and three bulldozers are being used to fight the fire. Three additional fire engines are expected to arrive later Monday. Aerial resources include one heavy air tanker, two single-engine air tankers and four helicopters.
The fire was reported around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. It began on private property near Grimes Creek and Mack Creek. No lightning was reported, so fire managers believe the blaze was human-caused.
The fire is being managed by the Idaho Department of Lands. The fire’s complexity grew beyond IDL resources to fight it, so the agency ordered an interagency incident management team to assist with the fire. The Great Basin Incident Management Team 6 will take command of the fire at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
On Tuesday, five helicopters will drop water where the fire is spreading on its northwest corner while more than 200 firefighters work on containment lines along the fire’s western, southern and eastern edges. More crews will also fight the northern end of the fire.
Smoky conditions may affect visibility, and travelers in the area are urged to drive slowly and use caution. Even though we are heading into fall, warmer temperatures and very dry fuels are still presenting high fire danger. Fire managers ask the public to be smart while recreating or working in the outdoors.
Agencies assisting IDL include the U.S. Forest Service, the Clear Creek Fire Department, and the Boise County Sheriff’s Office.