Fires Burn in Idaho

ByABC News
July 19, 2000, 2:55 PM

July 19 -- Though rain has aided their assault on several fires burning in central Idaho, firefighters today are trying to make as much progress as possible before dry, hot windy conditions return by the end of the week.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling a nearly 40,000 acre blaze called the Clear Creek fire, which is approximately 50 miles west of the Salmon-Challis National Forest. In western Idaho, approximately 450 firefighters are combating the 3100-acre Burgdorf Junction fire in Payette National Forest. A rainstorm Tuesday helped officials contain a third fire, Fenster Fire, which had burned 3,500 acres in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

According to Idahos Fire Information Center, firefighters today have attempted to capitalize on cloudy, humid weather conditions and make significant progress before fire-conducive weather conditions return. The National Weather Service has predicted that high temperatures and dry and windy conditions will return to central Idaho by the end of the week and could hamper firefighting efforts.

This is the sort of weather where you do all you can to contain the fires, said Russell Hubright, fire information officer for the Clear Creek and Fensters blazes. The weather service is predicting hot temperatures to return in a few days followed by a cold front that could bring heavy winds. So, the idea is that we want to do all we can to contain the fire.

Short-Term HelpDespite its size, the Clear Creek fire has destroyed only four structures, Hubright said. It is about 10 percent contained. Both the Fenster and Clear Creek fires both started by lightning were first detected July 10.

Though the rain has helped, Hubright says fire officials are still keeping a close eye on the Fenster blaze.

The rainfall that occurred on Tuesday gave us a short-termbenefit, particularly over rangelands which absorb theprecipitation more readily, said Rick Ochoa, a National WeatherService fire expert in Boise. But it really has no impact on thefire season.