Fires in the United States

Fires in California

21 August 2008

A handful of wildfires sprang up in Idaho in the third week of August 2008, affecting hundreds of acres in forests and wilderness areas west of the Bitterroot Range Mountains. This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite shows the area on 18 August. Places where MODIS detected active fires are outlined in red. A few of the larger fires are labeled.


18 August 2008

According to the 20 August morning report from the National Interagency Fire Center, the Diamond Fire was 693 acres; the Hell’s Half Saddle Fire was 1,110 acres; and the Porcupine Fire was 300 acres. Because much of the area is wilderness, not all fires that occur are aggressively battled. Some are allowed to burn to benefit the ecosystem according to pre-determined natural resource plans.

The high-resolution image provided above is at MODIS’ maximum spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel.

(source: earth observatory)

Fires largely contained across south-central Idaho

20 August 2008

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Fire crews worked Tuesday at the sites of four fires across south-central Idaho, two of which were human caused.

The North Minidoka Fire reached 32,000 acres by Tuesday morning before fire teams managed to halt it, with containment expected at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Full control was estimated for 9:30 a.m. today.

The fire, located in the desert two miles northeast of Minidoka, grew quickly thanks to abundant, fast-burning grasses in the area and was aided by wind gusts, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Sky Buffat said. So far, it is the largest regional fire this summer.

Buffat said fires in the desert are relatively common and tend to burn off a lot of the heavier brush, which leaves the fast-burning grasses.

The fire was stopped on the east side of the burn by Bear Trap Cave Road and was contained on the west side by bulldozer and fire retardant lines. Rock left from lava flows stopped the fire on the north side of the burn.

Fire crews were still working around midday to halt one uncontrolled line in the northwest corner, aided by resources from Idaho Falls, northern Utah, Salmon and Elko, Nev., said Jeff Bedke, Bureau of Land Management incident commander.

Officials determined Monday that the fire was human-caused. Two investigators were on the scene Tuesday to determine the exact cause of the blaze.

BLM firefighters were also on the scene of two other fires Tuesday. The Pagari Bridge Fire, located near mile post 189 along state Idaho Highway 75 northeast of Richfield, was halted at 674 acres. It was contained at noon Tuesday, with full control at 7 p.m. The fire was started by lightning at 9 p.m. Monday, Buffat said.

The Paymaster Fire started around noon on Tuesday four miles west of the visitor’s center at Craters of the Moon National Monument. It covered about 120 acres and was also human-caused, Buffat said. Containment was expected for 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Fire crews from the areas mentioned, as well as Boise, stayed on standby for any other new starts.

On the other end of the region, the South Barker Fire northeast of Featherville reached nearly 4,700 acres by Tuesday morning. The fire is being allowed to burn for fuel management purposes, and is largely accomplishing Forest Service goals, fire information officer Venetia Gempler said.

The blaze is clearing out some dead and dying ponderosa pines in the Sawtooth National Forest, Gempler said. But it also continued a push into the Boise National Forest, which falls under a different management plan, she said.

“That’s causing some problems,” she said, adding that firefighters are actively working to drive it out of the Boise forest.

About 220 Forest Service personnel are working the fire, as well as the eight-acre Johnson Creek 2 Fire that will also be allowed to burn farther northeast of the South Barker. A number of campgrounds, trails and roads are still closed in the area, Gempler said, now including the junction of Forest Service roads 135 and 138 in the Boise National Forest. But despite rumors, only campgrounds on the east side of Featherville to Baumgartner are closed, she said. Pine and Featherville are still open for business.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality will place air-quality monitors in the valley by this weekend to monitor increased smoke.

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