Even as Blaine County residents worried about losing homes due to a local fire, larger fires across the state were picking up speed, causing evacuations and even response from the Idaho National Guard.
The lightning-caused Halstead Fire north of Stanley reached 93,720 acres as of Tuesday morning, with more growth expected as thunderstorms and gusty winds were set to pass through the area Tuesday afternoon and evening.
The Halstead Fire is still only 5 percent contained. Sawtooth National Forest spokeswoman Julie Thomas said over the weekend that the fire would not likely be fully contained until fall snows hit the region, as the terrain is too rugged to surround the entire area with containment lines, either constructed by bulldozers or firefighting handcrews.
The Salmon-Challis National Forest reported on its website Tuesday that another fire farther north in the Salmon River Canyon upstream from the Corn Creek Boat Launch might impact Main Salmon River trips, though launches are possible from the Cove Creek Boat Launch 17.6 miles upstream.
Tara Ross, public information officer for the Halstead Fire, said Tuesday that residents of Lower Stanley, Casino Creek, the Highway 75 corridor, Sunbeam and the Yankee Fork area northeast of Stanley have been placed on a 48-hour pre-evacuation notice.
In other words, she said, residents may come and go as they please from their homes, but are warned that they might need to be evacuated with only 48 hours notice in the next few days.
“They still are kind of on awareness,” she said. “[This means] still have your stuff ready, still make arrangements for livestock, that sort of thing.”
The Trinity Ridge Fire east of Boise reached 90,664 acres as of Tuesday morning, inching closer to the mountain towns of Pine and Featherville. According to a news release from the Boise National Forest, the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office has ordered an evacuation from Featherville to the Paradise area, due to thick smoke and reduced visibility.
Evacuees are being accepted at an American Red Cross station at the Pine Senior Center and another at the Pines Resort.
The Idaho National Guard has been called to the incident to provide checkpoint security and other support. the Guard was activated by Gov. Butch Otter on Aug. 19.
A Forest Service news release states that crews have contained 5 percent of the fire, conducting burnout operations around the Trinity Lakes Guard Station and handline construction near the confluence of the Middle and North forks of the Boise River. Still, the fire grew another 2,197 acres between Monday and Tuesday, even with 1,171 personnel, 61 engines and eight helicopters on scene.
So far, five firefighters have been injured and four structures have been lost to the flames.
The report also states that the fire has been relatively quiet for the past few days, allowing crews to initiate structure protection and complete preparations for burnout operations that may prevent the fire from reaching the town.
Kate Wutz: firstname.lastname@example.org