Outdoors

Thunderstorms could both help and hinder firefighting efforts near Burgdorf Hot Springs

350-acre Nethker Fire burning near Burgdorf Hot Springs

This video of the wildfire burning near Burgdorf Hot Springs was shot on Tuesday, Aug. 6,2019.
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This video of the wildfire burning near Burgdorf Hot Springs was shot on Tuesday, Aug. 6,2019.

Nethker Fire 1 Aug. 7.jpg
This photo of the Nethker Fire burning near Burgdorf Hot Springs was taken Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. Payette National Forest/inciweb

McCall got about a quarter of an inch of rain on Thursday night, but much less than that fell north of there, where the 1,100-acre Nethker Fire is burning in the Payette National Forest.

“The fire site itself didn’t get much, just a couple hundredths of an inch of rain,” National Weather Service meteorologist Josh Smith told the Statesman on Friday morning.

Thunderstorms in the forecast for Friday night and Saturday are expected to bring more rain to the region, and that could help firefighting efforts. At the same time, high winds, lightning strikes and hail could complicate matters and make the effort more dangerous.

“A Red Flag Warning has been issued beginning at noon Friday through noon Saturday due to scattered thunderstorms that could produce winds up to 40 mph and small hail,” says an update posted online Friday morning by the Payette National Forest. “These conditions can cause an increased risk of fire danger.”

That’s something to consider if you’re planning to be camping or outdoors this weekend.

The storms also will dot some of the Treasure Valley this weekend, dropping the high temperature in Boise to the low 80s Saturday. The highs in and near McCall will be in the low 70s on Saturday and mid-60s on Sunday, Smith said.

Presuming there aren’t a bunch of new fires due to lightning strikes, the cooler temperatures should help firefighting efforts.

The lightning-caused Nethker Fire, which has been burning near Burgdorf Hot Springs since Sunday, grew by just 100 acres on Thursday to 1,100 acres, and it’s now 5 percent contained, forest and fire officials say.

The good news: Crews are doing dedicated structure protection of the hot springs and Forest Service guard station, and they’re holding the line on the northwest side of the fire. The fire is moving into a burn scar that dates back to a 2000 fire, and that should slow it down.

Burgdorf/French Creek Road is closed. Warren Wagon Road north of McCall is open only to those who have property in the area. Pilot cars are escorting those people, which could cause delays.

The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office posted an evacuation order for Burgdorf on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon.

A Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said Friday that was an error, and it was actually more a notification than an evacuation order. The order has been removed from Facebook. She said there were just two people in Burgdorf, and they were assisted in getting out.

Fire officials say the community of Secesh is not threatened, but they are “updating existing structure assessments” as a precaution. A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Secesh Fire Department.

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