Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rain has little effect on nearby fires

Beaver Creek Fire deemed 100 percent contained


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

The Beaver Creek Fire that burned west of the Wood River Valley came very close to this house in Greenhorn Gulch, north of Hailey. The fire is now 100 percent contained. Small hotspots could still flare up, officials said, but the line around the fire’s perimeter has been deemed secure. Photo by Willy Cook

    Despite a long downpour Monday night in the Wood River Valley, only light rain was reported on the Kelley Fire near Fairfield and the Little Queens Fire in the southern Sawtooth Wilderness.
    While the Beaver Creek Fire was declared 100 percent contained Sunday, the Kelley Fire, about eight miles northwest of Soldier Mountain ski area, was declared only 10 percent contained Tuesday. Ignited by lightning on Aug. 24, the fire grew to 14,867 acres from only 565 acres on Thursday.
    Fire Information Officer Jennifer Myslivy said that despite only sporadic rain, “with the cloud cover and the relative humidity, that’s given firefighters the opportunity to do something while the fire activity is less.”
    According to the Inciweb official fire information website, 689 people were battling the fire as it burned primarily to the northeast. Rolling fire debris has been an issue on the western edge of the fire but crews have been able to hold the line and prevent spread there. The fire is holding well on the north end as crews continue to lay hose and watch for spot fires.
    Crews applied aerial and hand ignition to the fire on the northeastern edge to burn out unburned fuel loads down to the South Fork of the Boise River and hold the line there. They will be scouting and assessing the eastern edge of the fire, planning for best management actions.
    The Little Queens Fire is spreading more slowly, from about 23,000 acres Friday to 26,500 acres Monday.


With the cloud cover and the relative humidity,
that’s given firefighters the opportunity to do something
while the fire activity
is less.”
Jennifer Myslivy
Fire information officer
Kelley Fire


    Fire Information Officer Jodi Mallozzi said the storm Monday night brought only “a steady drizzle” to that fire. She said because the fire is burning in steep, difficult terrain, it is mostly on “monitor status” since a line was secured preventing its spread into the small mountain town of Atlanta.
    “We don’t want to put anyone into harm’s way,” she said.
    According to the Inciweb site, only 69 people were left working on the fire Tuesday. It was declared 20 percent contained.
    Though containment of the Beaver Creek Fire had been expected Saturday, that was delayed by hot spots near Wolftone Creek, between Deer Creek and Croy Creek. Hand crews extinguished those spots and reinforced containment lines.
    A transfer of command back to the local unit was scheduled to take place today, Sept. 4.
    The fire scorched popular recreation areas in Greenhorn Gulch and the Deer Creek drainage. On the northeast, however, it was stopped near Fox Peak before burning into Fox Creek, Chocolate Gulch or Oregon Gulch, and trails there have been reopened.
    On the northern perimeter, it burned around Baker Lake but was stopped before moving up the trail to Norton Lake. As of Tuesday, Baker Creek Road remained closed.
According to a news release from the Sawtooth National Forest, a Burned Area Emergency Response team assembled Tuesday in Hailey to conduct an assessment of the 114,900-acre burn area.
    The BAER team will determine if emergency conditions exist as a result of the fire that affect public safety as well as natural and cultural resources. The team will produce an expedited assessment report that identifies emergency conditions.
    After the assessment report is finalized, it will be shared with local, county, state, federal and other cooperators.
    If the team determines that emergency conditions exist, a variety of emergency response actions could be recommended. Specialists may recommend rapid reseeding, enlarging or unplugging culverts and removing structures that could block water flow, trap sediment or impact water quality.
    The BAER team leader, Eric Schroder, said he anticipates that a preliminary assessment will be ready by the end of this week and that a final assessment will be prepared by Sept. 13. Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson said a rehabilitation plan and a funding request will be submitted to the Forest Service’s Intermountain Region office in Ogden, Utah.
Greg Moore: gmoore@mtexpress.com




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