Traffic stalled for nearly two hours on state Highway 75 Saturday afternoon as two wildfires started within miles of each other south of Timmerman Junction.
According to Wood River Fire & Rescue Chief Ron Bateman, the department was dispatched at 2:37 p.m. to a report of a wildfire near East Magic Road on state Highway 75. En route to the first fire, firefighters were notified of a second wildfire, roughly three miles south along the highway near Picabo Desert Road.
“Highway 75 was closed for an extended period of time to protect firefighters as smoke obscured the roadway,” Bateman told the Mountain Express.
Wood River received assistance from the Sun Valley, Bellevue, Ketchum and Carey Rural Fire Departments. The Bureau of Land Management arrived just after 4 p.m. to take command of both fires. According to Bateman, 16 trucks and 39 people responded, not including BLM.
As of 6:30 p.m., both fires were contained.
According to Bateman, firefighters did their best to maintain some measure of social distancing while fighting the flames, but “it’s incredibly difficult to remember actually.”
Bateman said the more urgent matter in the moment was to get the roadway shut down to maintain safety
“There was a very heavy traffic that was a real threat for our initial attack crews,” Bateman said.
The Timmerman Fire, the northern fire, burned approximately 8.5 acres and the Picabo [Desert] Road Fire, was approximately 0.5 acres.
The cause of both fires is under investigation, Bateman said.
Crews responded to a pair of wildfires alongside state Highway 75 south of Timmerman Junction just before 3 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Bellevue Fire Department.
The larger fire, which appears to be an uncontrolled burn, is burning just south of mile marker 100 on the southbound side. The second fire is near mile marker 94 on the northbound side of the highway. A crew from Wood River Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene around 3 p.m. The Bellevue Fire Department has closed the northbound lane of the highway.
Wood River Fire and Rescue responded with assistance from Carey, Sun Valley and Bellevue Fire Departments.
This is a developing story. For more, check back with mtexpress.com
Update at 3:29 p.m.: The fire at mile marker 94 appears to be nearly out as fire crews respond.
Update at 3:42 p.m.: The northbound lane of Highway 75 remains closed as firefighters tackle the wildfires.
Update at 3:50 p.m.: The Blaine County Sheriff's Department is on the scene as of 3:45 p.m.
Update at 4:11 p.m.: Bureau of Land Management is now on the scene. The highway remains closed.
Update at 4:45 p.m.: The highway is now reopening.
Update at 4:56 p.m.: The highway is reopened heading northbound, but the southbound side is still closed.
Update at 5:45 p.m.: According to the Blaine County Sheriff's office Highway 75 south of Timmerman Hill is now operating with open one lane of travel alternating direction using a pilot car.