STANLEY — Like most fire crews across Idaho today, the Sawtooth Team has the added burden of high winds, high temperatures and low humidity, which created a red flag warning.
That fire, along with the hundreds-of-thousands of other acres across Idaho, continues to burn.
Right now there are 16 large fires in our state burning nearly 400,000 acres. Thats twice as much as any other western state. The second highest is Washington with eight fires.
Smoke fills the skies above the Sawtooth Mountains as the Trailhead Fire continues to burn near Stanley. Residents say they are prepared to evacuate their homes.
Among those blazes in Idaho, the Trailhead Fire near Stanley is threatening dozens of homes.
“This day with the storm approaching, is the day we’re concerned about,” said Susan Perin, homeowner.
Susan Perin and 90 neighboring homeowners have reason for concern. Last week, the Trailhead Fire reignited and started making its way toward Stanley. The 4,200 acre blaze is now hidden in remote and rugged terrain, but the threat of severe winds has many on high alert.
The fire is just three to five miles from several Stanley subdivisions. Residents are prepared to get out at a moments notice.
“Oh yes! Everybody will evacuate. I don’t think anyone would be fool enough to stay,” said Perin.
“Both the Forest Service and the Custer County have evacuation plans in place for this area,” said Lynn Barclay, Rocky Mountain Fire Team.
Lynn Barclay and many of the 300 firefighters on scene came to Stanley from Colorado over the weekend. They are among the most highly trained teams in the nation. But they know today’s warmer and windier weather will be a challenge.
“We’ve tried to take advantage of the cool temperatures and the light wings, trying to beat this weather to the punch, so we can hold our line when the winds arrive,” said Barclay.
By early afternoon, those feared prevailing winds materialized, making and already difficult situation even more difficult for firefighters in the Sawtooth Mountains.
“This will test our fire lines to see if they do hold. If they don’t the wind make it read hard to recapture this fire. So, this is a big deal and it will effect all the fires all over the state of Idaho,” said Buck Wickham, Fire Operations Manager.
Susan Perin says she and neighbors remain optimistic, but also realistic.
“Everybody I’ve talked to has said they’ve packed and ready to go,” said Perin.
Prior to this afternoons winds, the Trailhead Fire was 45 percent contained.
The red flag warning continues through Wednesday evening.