News: Some better, some worse, some new.
The day brought a mix of good and bad news.
Highway 12 is still being monitored pretty close as that fire is dying out. It is still one lane only with pilot car. The fire is all the way down to the road, but appears to be completely contained due to several backfires that were executed this morning as well as merges of three major fires that put each other out of business, competing for the same tinder.
Obviously, as you see below a moving car is not the best platform for night photography, but we could not stop and these, I felt, were better than no pictures.
We had to run down river for the day and while we were gone a small storm came through with little rain and some additional lightning that started more fires. After we arrived back home we saw that one had been started approximately 4 miles east (Woodrat Mt.) and another about 4 miles north (Lolo Creek Canyon) of us. Also, the Kamiah Gulch fire jumped the Lolo Canyon in one place and is now burning our direction again.
Being unaware of the new Woodrat Fire I grabbed a radio, flashlight, and camera bag and jumped on the 4-wheeler heading toward it. The main concern was to assess any immediate danger, but I was able to get some photos of it as well.
As strange as it sounds, these are relatively small fires compared to the the Lawyer’s Creek Complex and Kamiah Gulch I. This fire above, Woodrat, is on U.S. Forest Service property and is being tended by them, but below you will see the Lolo Canyon Fire which doesn’t really have anyone on it right now – they are concentrating on the big fires that are moving quickly. At a community meeting last night the announced that their resources were stretched “pretty thin” and then also it is rumored that more people are flying in from the east to assist.
According to InciWeb the Lawyer’s Creek Complex has reached 11,619 acres as of this morning. They are only showing the one major fire, not sure why, but my guess is it is the fire of which Idaho Department of Lands is in charge. It does mention road restrictions on adjacent fires as well; probably a red tape issue that agencies do not report on other’s fires (don’t really know as we haven’t ever had these many together at once). There were Stage II evacuations issued this morning for two more roads and residents are prepared to flee at a moment’s notice.
I was able to ride straight to the fires on Lolo Canyon Road and stood within 6 feet of some flames. It sounds crazy, but you must understand that there are so many fires burning that it produces nearly an equal amount of rumors; this burned down, that’s on fire, they evacuated, this is shut down. I had to find out for myself. The local Sheriff’s office stated that they (any agency) couldn’t staff nor monitor all fires, responses, or incidents so if you saw a fire close to your home…get out. As you can see, I needed to make sure, even if it meant riding dusty, smoky roads through the lonely woods until past midnight.
It must be stated. Getting this close to forest fires is very dangerous, even ones this small, for many reasons. Obviously, you could get enclosed and burned, then there is smoke inhalation, but just as dangerous are falling trees. They were falling. I took a couple of videos and you can hear them crashing in the back ground. There is no way to predict nor see them falling and indeed one did fall onto a road on a site just below here (I didn’t get a pictures – sorry).
Unfortunately, for information purposes and photographic opportunity I was unable to get close to the Kamiah Gulch Fire. I was running out of time and could no longer reach home by radio to let them know everything was okay. I opted to cut it short sometime after midnight.
I started this post last night, but am finishing it this morning. Today is a critical day. The visiting meteorologist stated that we are expected to have winds up to 45 mph today, a cold front bringing in the possibility of more storm clouds, which could translate into more fires (more lightning), with a slight chance of rain. None of this is good news. The winds could take these small pockets to raging blazes and more strikes simply expand the fire perimeter and completely throw containment efforts into disarray. If the wind blows these fires into inferno’s they will “top out”; jump from tree top to tree top, completely independent of ground fuel. Once they do this a fire can travel upwards of 60 mph and can’t be stopped from the ground. We pray this doesn’t happen. As well, join us in praying for a MASSIVE amount of rain. I don’t care what they predict or state the low chance is. Prayer has always trumped statistics!
Thanks for staying tuned!