Credit: Janeen Eggebrecht
Firefighters seen Tuesday, July 24, on the Rattlesnake Creek Fire.
As of Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Residents asked to watch ICSO Facebook for evacuation notice
By Tuesday morning, the fire had been mapped; it had been found to have burned more than 2,100 acres; and more than 300 firefighters had been assigned to check its advance, according to a Forest Service midday news release.
The fire continued to burn in timber and grass, the release noted. Firefighting resources continued to focus on point protection actions Tuesday to stop the fire’s progression toward homes.
No structures had been lost, according to the release, and no evacuations had been ordered, the release stated. The release also directed local residents to monitor the Facebook pages of the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office and the Adams County Sheriff’s Office for current evacuation information.
The release also stated that a location to the north of the fire for fire line construction was being identified.
Mike Almas’ Northern Rockies Type 2 Incident Management Team will assume command of the fire at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Traffic control measures are in place by the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office along Highway 95 for public and firefighter safety. Authorities advise avoiding the area if possible and to not stop along the roadway. Travelers may experience limited visibility due to smoke in the canyon corridor.
POLLOCK Dozens of homes were directly threatened along U.S. 95 and the Little Salmon River south of Pollock Monday afternoon, July 23, when the Rattlesnake Creek Fire made the first growth of a rapid advance to more than 2,100 acres.
Fire calls came in to the Idaho County Sheriff’s dispatch at about noon Pacific Time Monday, and it was estimated at 50-70 acres.
One caller described it as a field fire “taking off up the mountain,” according to the logs. Another reported it next to the highway. The county relayed the information to the Forest Service. Another caller offered use of a pond for dipping if needed. Another said the back of their shop was on fire.
As it turned out, the fire reached no structures on Monday.
“Our local trucks with help have saved all houses so far,” Riggins-based first responder Janeen Eggebrecht told the Free Press.
No structures had been lost as of Tuesday, but the mere threat has been enough to revive memories of the Tepee Springs Fire of 2015, which put people who live outside Riggins to the test.
“We had to fire up our helicopter,” said Ashlyn Carlson, whose ranch lost buildings in mainstem Salmon River country to the Tepee Springs Fire, recalling the worst. “Our family works really well together. We did what we had to do. It was the most emotionally and physically draining experience that only few can understand. The pure force of a fire is incredible. And being in the middle of it is terrifying. The sky goes black, the earth is glowing red and the wind is stronger than any wind I’ve ever been in. It was only 45 minutes but felt like hours.”
Notice posted by the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office shortly after noon on Tuesday pointed to the likelihood that the Rattlesnake Fire will drive some area residents from their homes.
The firefighting effort continues to ramp up.
Grangeville Interagency Dispatch had listed 10 Forest Service firefighting units responding by 2 p.m. July 23. By Tuesday morning, the Rattlesnake Fire had been mapped; it had been found to have burned more than 2,100 acres; and more than 300 firefighters had been assigned to check its advance, according to a Forest Service midday news release. The release also noted a Type 2 Incident Management Team was scheduled to take command of the firefighting response Tuesday evening.
The agencies in charge of firefighting efforts have asked the general public to avoid the area for safety reasons, though many area residents and other witnesses have flooded social networks with photos of the aerial response being made by planes and helicopters.
The cause of the Rattlesnake Fire remains under investigation, as does the cause of the much smaller Grangeville-area Blackerby Fire firefighters quickly controlled after it sprang up overnight on July 17.
The Blackerby Fire was last listed at 26 acres having burned near where a much larger fire burned in 2005.
In other wildfire news, the Southern Idaho Timber Protective Association (SITPA) together with the U.S. Forest Service battled a fire that started Monday evening about four miles north of the Rainbow Bridge on the bank of the North Fork of the Payette River.