Due to a combination of recent thunderstorms, hot weather and perhaps human carelessness, the 2019 wildfire season is underway in south-central Idaho. As of Tuesday afternoon, fires were burning to the north and to the south of the Wood River Valley.
Ignited by lightning Monday night, the Lava Fire had burned about 800 acres of grass and brush by Tuesday afternoon on the east side of state Highway 75, three miles northeast of Shoshone.
BLM Twin Falls District Fire Officer Kelsey Brizendine said Tuesday afternoon that firefighters had kept the blaze from crossing the highway and the road was open.
Brizendine said firefighters from the BLM and Shoshone and Jerome rural fire districts were working on controlling the blaze. According to information provided by the BLM, firefighters were aided by four engines and multiple aircraft.
State Highway 75 north of Shoshone was temporarily closed Tuesday morning. Drivers are urged to use caution while driving through the area due to the presence of firefighters and equipment.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no containment date had been set.
A wildfire detected Friday has burned 436 acres in the Swamp Creek area about 14 miles northwest of Stanley.
Great Basin Incident Management Team 5 took command of the Vader Fire at 6 a.m. Monday morning. As of Tuesday, firefighters had completed a handline around the fire, and crews completed burnout operations above Vader Creek, according to the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
Travel on state Highway 21 without a pilot car was restored Monday night through the fire area, with a reduced speed zone of 45 mph for a seven-mile section, according to the update. The area southwest of the highway remains closed.
Firefighting activities may require intermittent closure of the highway; in that case, traffic will be rerouted onto an approximately 8-mile section of Forest Service Road 203/Cape Horn Road. All travelers are asked to slow down and drive cautiously when traveling through the Cape Horn area because of firefighters working adjacent to Highway 21.
Three hundred and thirty-one personnel are working on the blaze, with the help of five helicopters, three engines and two dozers. The fire is reported to be only 10 percent contained.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. A spokeswoman for the Salmon-Challis National Forest said there were no thunderstorms in the area when the fire was reported.
The Shady Fire, detected July 10, has burned 1,382 acres 2 miles east of the Seafoam Guard Station, about 12 miles east of the Boundary Creek launch site on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
According to a press release from the Salmon-Challis National Forest, the apparently lightning-caused fire is primarily backing down the ridges and burning grass, brush and dead timber in Shady and Casto creeks and in a no-name drainage to the east of Casto Creek. Fire managers are urging the public to use caution when traveling in the vicinity of the Shady Fire, as firefighters are in the area.
Due to heavy fuel loading, active fire behavior and the presence of numerous snags, firefighters have been unable to directly engage the fire. The Shady Fire is being managed with a point-protection strategy to protect resources, including mining and Forest Service infrastructure, without directly halting the continued spread of the wildfire.
A wildfire caused by lightning on the afternoon of Sunday, July 14, has burned 324 acres near state Highway 21 on the west side of Banner Summit.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire was reported to be 32 percent contained, according to the Boise National Forest.
Initial burnout operations were successful Friday, and both lanes of Highway 21 were open on this section of roadway as of mid-Tuesday.
Burnout operations were continuing Tuesday to keep the fire west of state Highway 21 and south of the West Fork of Canyon Creek. Both sides of Highway 21 were being monitored for hotspots.
The Forest service reported that warm and dry conditions with breezy winds on Tuesday and Wednesday and the possibility of dry thunderstorms were a concern, and crews will continue to focus efforts on securing and holding established lines on the northern edge along state Highway 21.
Two hundred and six personnel were on scene, with helicopters, engines and a water tender.