Weather kicks up Idaho's fire season

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by KTVB

NWCN.com

Posted on August 27, 2010 at 8:27 PM

BOISE -- There is a fire burning three miles west of Fruitvale, northwest of Council, and fire officials says structures in the area are threatened.

Right now, the North Ridge Fire has grown to 500 acres and is estimated to be 30 percent contained. The fire is burning is grass and range land.  There are no road closures in the area.

Resources are being concentrated on building fire lines.  Dozers are working the east and northeast flanks of the fire, while hand crews work on the west and south sides of the fire.

Weather in that area is fairly mild with temps in the mid-70s and winds out of the west gusting up to 20 mph.

The Boise National Forest says lightning started 50 new fires Thursday afternoon on BLM, Forest Service and state lands.

The Buckster Fire is 20 miles south of Oreana in Owyhee County.  It's about 200 acres, but not threatening any structures.

The Flint Fire is burning 20 acres about 15 miles southwest of Silver City.  There are structures in the area but they are not threatened at this time.

Another fire started by lightning Thursday night is the Hot Tea Fire northeast of Mountain Home.  It burned about 40 acres by noon, and BLM crews are making progress toward containing it.

Three fires 20 miles east of Boise are now contained.  The Dry, Hollow, and Roost fires are all near Mayfield.

Crews are currently mopping up and expect to have those fires controlled this evening.

The fire season in Idaho had been slow up to this point, has kicked up quite a bit this week.

Fire managers say the same thing that was keeping the fire season slow early on, is the same thing that's causing it to flare up now -- the weather.

The lightning last night, paired with very little rain, high temperatures, and low humidity made for ideal conditions for fires.

The Forest Service says 50 new fires has spread everyone's resources thin.

"We're down to the bottom of the barrel, to be quite candid, with the number of crews that we have, and firefighting resources," said David Olson with the Boise National Forest.  "We've kind of triaged it a little bit, and we have fires with a higher priority, if they're near structures or property, and those higher values.  We're placing people on those.  Some of the fires in the more remote areas, we're actually holding off for the time being, and just making sure we have enough resources on those higher priority fires."

"The crews, the resources that we have are kind of spread thin at the time. They're trying to hit all the fires that they can, and are making good progress on all the fires, with that they got.  But additional resources have been ordered from outside the area," said Carrie Bilbao with the Boise District BLM.

And those additional crews should help.  So should cooler temperatures through the weekend, and firefighters are also hoping for a little rain.

Gov. Butch Otter plans to visit firefighters in Valley County Saturday afternoon.

FEMA has authorized the use of federal funds to help the state of Idaho fight the Hurd Fire burning west of Cascade.

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