Idaho and U.S. Pour Out Firefighting Resources to State

By Paige Browning

State and federal wildland firefighters are beginning to run out of people to battle nine major blazes now burning in Idaho.

Just two big fires in Idaho - the Elk and the Beaver Creek fire - have absorbed the full-time attention of more than 1.300 people, and neither blaze is anywhere near controlled or contained. The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has hurriedly put together a regional management group to decide the highest priorities and to shift fire teams as needed.

The group assesses the wildfire's proximity to homes and other structures, the potential for rapid spread and the impact of smoke. Already the Elk fire, which has chewed through about 114,000 acres, has destroyed 38 homes and 43 outbuildings, and has knocked out power to tiny mountain communities.

Although firefighters set a successful three-mile-long burnout Wednesday near the little town of Pine, Idaho, the nearby town of Prairie is in danger. 856 firefighters are working on that blaze in tough terrain, heat and very low humidities - about 9 percent humidity at last report.

The Beaver Creek fire nearby, has charred more than 44-thousand acres. A Type 1 Incident Management Team, the most highly trained and skilled group, is under the command of Beth Lund, one of only two women to command such a team. More than 500 people now report to her.

That fire was racing through the tops of trees at last report, and was only 11 percent contained. Lund is concentrating on protecting homes in the Deer Creek area.
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