Elk Complex fire gets help from crews in 28 different states


by Jamie Grey & KTVB.COM


Posted on August 14, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 14 at 5:11 PM

PINE, Idaho -- There are now more than 600 firefighters working on the Elk Complex fire, and they're coming from at least 28 different states.

Wildland firefighting crews have been in the mountains every day, like the Tatanka Hot Shots that KTVB caught up with, while they working behind some houses in Pine.

Firefighter Alexis Jagelski is originally from Ontario, Oregon but typically works with an engine crew stationed in Wyoming. Now she's working with the South Dakota hotshots in Pine."It's fun being back," said Jagelski.

"We got here Saturday afternoon. Done a lot of prep work in the meantime, making sure the dozer line is going to hold. Sunday night we did a burnout that covered a lot of ground," said Jagelski. "Yesterday we held quite a bit of line up top and did a lot of hiking, making sure there was no slopping over so the fire didn't run too far on us. This morning we're checking line again."

For the last few days, local departments from around Idaho have been working on putting down defensive equipment on homes and cabins, in case the fire were to come down.

"Basically we've been doing structure triage and just checking out homes trying to get some defensible areas going," said Gabe Eckert from the Pocatello Fire Department. "Setting up sprinklers, stuff like that. A lot of hurry up and wait, to see if the fire comes up over the hill and starts threatening the structures in Pine."

As the firefight continues and crews work to keep the fire away from homes, fire management officials anticipate they're nearing the final total of how many firefighters will be here. But they also say they still don't know how much this all will cost.

"We'll probably add some more eventually but not a huge amount," said Madonna Lengerich, spokeswoman for the Elk Complex fire. "And the cost of the fire is going to grow, particularly some costs for air resources we had a couple days ago that haven't been totally collected by the finance division."

The estimated cost of this fire is $2.7-million and rising.