Smoke from the Walker Fire drifted into the Treasure Valley Monday. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued a red unhealthy air quality alert Monday morning for Ada and Canyon counties.
As of 7 a.m. Monday, air quality levels in Nampa and at a monitor station at St. Luke’s Meridian were in the red unhealthy range. A few miles farther west of St. Luke’s, west of North Locust Grove Road, air quality was in the green healthy range. At the Boise Fire Department monitoring station in Downtown Boise, air quality was in the yellow moderate range.
The National Weather Service said it expects the smoke to linger in the valley for at least a couple of days.
Residents and campers were evacuated Saturday because of the fire, which was called in around 4 p.m., according to Boise County Dispatch.
The fire was estimated to be about 2,500 acres as of Sunday night and has destroyed four structures, three of which were residences, according to Emily Callihan, spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Lands.
No one has been injured in the blaze, but several volunteer firefighting agencies and the Lands Department are on scene fighting it, according to dispatch. Three helicopters and two single engine air tankers have been dumping water on the flames. Two 20-person hand crews and two hot shot crews are working to contain it. There are also 14 engines on scene and three bulldozers, Callihan said.
Smoke was heavy this morning in the Clear Creek Community west of Idaho 21 and about a mile south of the fire, resident Bill Balding said.
Residents were worried over the weekend that their homes might be threatened by the blaze, he said. The fire is headed in the opposite direction.
“At least it’s heading north,” Balding said. “No one lives up there.”
In the 20 years Balding and his wife, Barbara, have lived there, it’s the first time a fire has burned nearby, he said.
Residents in the Mack Creek area were told to evacuate. Also, some folks along the Pine Creek area and campers along Grimes Creek were told to get out, according to dispatch.
The fire started out small, and crews at first were confident they’d be able to knock it down quickly. Firefighters on scene initially applied their normal procedure for fires in the area of using the roads to keep flames from spreading. But winds picked up and carried the flames, Callihan said.
“Winds carried the fire and caused it to spot and spread very quickly,” she said.
But, winds died down Sunday, so the fire grew very slowly. Crews focused on the southwest corner of the blaze to protect structures in the Clear Creek area, Callihan said.
Though it is the end of fire season and there are fewer resources available, Callihan said they are equipped to quell the blaze.
“There is less to draw from, but what is required to fight this fire aggressively, they got that,” she said.