PINE, Idaho -- Elmore County Sheriff"s Office ordered a mandatory evacuation for the Featherville community effective at about 5:30 p.m.Tuesday.
Fire crews were working today to mop up an intentional backburn set last night near the town of Pine.
Wildfires continue to burn between Boise and Hailey, and they continue to creep up on a number of homes, cabins, and other buildings.
We’ve learned that 15 structures have been lost to the flames so far, and fire mangers expect more structures to be lost in the Fall Creek area.
The Fall Creek area is in the Elk Complex Fire.
Idaho currently has the top three fires on the national wildfire priority list.
Third on the list is the Beaver Creek Fire, burning west of Hailey and Ketchum. It’s charred over 32,000 acres and firefighters are working to stop the fire from spreading into nearby communities and recreation areas.
The second is the Pony Complex Fire, west of the town of Prairie. We've been told that officials are letting residents back into the greater Prairie area today.
And the top priority fire in the country is the Elk Complex -- it's currently sitting right between Prairie and the evacuated town of Pine.
Our crew has been at the Elk Complex Fire all day long.
This fire is now nearly 100,000 acres. That's about 8,000 acres bigger than Monday. Overnight, there was a lot of work being done, especially with backburning near subdivisions.
"Oh, you know, you're always hopeful it never reaches you," said Pine resident Butch Glineski.
Butch Glineski and his wife chose not to evacuate, and so last night as the fire crept along the ridge behind their home in the Aspen subdivision, they watched as crews worked on the hillside.
"You could see their headlight, or the light on their cap, and it was a different color than the fire, so you could see that and all of a sudden you'd see fire following them. Maybe wonder how they'd get out of there quick enough," said Glineski.
Crews bulldozed and backburned behind the subdivision.
"It was quite a sight to see. At one point, that whole hillside was just totally, totally engulfed in flames. Just aglow," said Glineski.
The goal of all of these backburns along the road and behind homes is to burn out fuel in between the natural fire and where firefighters have built protective lines, but it's a delicate process with delicate timing issues.
"What we have to do is wait and wait and wait until the exact right time when we see the smoke from the fire coming off the mountain starting to pull upwards. We want it to suck the smoke from the fire we start up into the main fire and then we know that our backfire will work," said Elk Fire spokeswoman Madonna Lengerich.
Which it did Monday night as no homes in the Aspen subdivision were lost, much to the relief of Glineski and his neighbors.
"Oh, a few tears shed in the night. Yeah, I don't think with all the personnel we were worried. I guess the fact it was going and we were ready to leave, but got guys like this fighting it, we didn't have to," Glineski said.
As the fire has moved on from this subdivision it is moving up the road toward more homes where firefighters are planning similar defensive operations to save homes in Pine and potentially Featherville.
At the incident command post, one of the big factors today for planning has been the weather and the top priority remains keeping the fire from crossing the Pine-Featherville Road.