The Sun Valley Idaho area is suddenly a burning question!

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Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 17, 2013 - 07:29pm PT
The question of course is: will it burn?

The number 1 priority fire in the U.S. is the Beaver Creek Fire and it has impacted the Big Wood River Valley, home of Sun Valley, and cherished outdoor playground for many folks.

I grew up in Ketchum, one mile from Sun Valley, then lived there again from 1982-91, before fleeing to Choss Creek.

Best wishes to Dick Dorworth, my friend Stein Sitzmark (who had to evacuate yesterday), and any ST readers with homes, friends, or interests in this wonderful area.

Heidi & I have room reservations in Ketchum next week to celebrate our 25th anniversary with friends from the area. It now looks like that may not be happening.

Some photos:
Photo by friend & climber Matt Leidecker of the fire on the night of 8...
Photo by friend & climber Matt Leidecker of the fire on the night of 8/16, burning in Greenhorn Gulch & Deer Creek.
Credit: Fritz
Downtown Ketchum looking south on Aug. 15.
Downtown Ketchum looking south on Aug. 15.
Credit: Fritz
Helicopters in Greenhorn Gulch.
Helicopters in Greenhorn Gulch.
Credit: Fritz
Extreme fire behavior.
Extreme fire behavior.
Credit: Fritz
Pyro-Cumulus clouds over the Beaver Creek Fire from 60 miles south.
Pyro-Cumulus clouds over the Beaver Creek Fire from 60 miles south.
Credit: Fritz



rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Aug 17, 2013 - 07:46pm PT
Here's to a smokeless anniversary...RJ
TwistedCrank

climber
Bungwater Hollow, Ida-ho
Aug 17, 2013 - 08:14pm PT
It big bad news all around. I can see the pyro cumulus clouds from Boise of the three big fires between here and SV, a hundred miles away. Lots of prime mountain bike real estate is toast. Bald Mtn is under threat and is actively pumping water originally stored for snow making. Mandatory evacuations all up and down the Wood River valley. The orders are to grab your pets and meds and go - don't hesitate and don't look back. It's hard to watch, being so close and so familiar. I have many friends over there. I wish for strength to all.

Next year, it'll be mud slides.

I guess that's life in the intermountain west.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 17, 2013 - 08:38pm PT
Yep! Life in a fire ecosystem. I put myself through college working on a Forest Service helicopter fire crew in the Sun Valley area. Times have changed and now I am supposed to believe that fire is good for the forest. Much of the area just west & north of Sun Valley burned in a big fire in 2007.

The question is: will that area be resistant to burning in this fire?

Taken from the main fire camp on Big Wood River.  Burning down Deer Cr...
Taken from the main fire camp on Big Wood River. Burning down Deer Creek on Aug. 16.
Credit: Fritz

Burning above Hailey early morning today.
Burning above Hailey early morning today.
Credit: Fritz

Matt Leidecker photo of the fire in the Baker Creek drainage north of ...
Matt Leidecker photo of the fire in the Baker Creek drainage north of Sun Valley and the same area before the fire.
Credit: Fritz

Mark Sheehan photo of the fire from by Hailey airport this afternoon. ...
Mark Sheehan photo of the fire from by Hailey airport this afternoon. It is burning down towards Hailey.
Credit: Fritz
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Aug 17, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
Bump

crusher

climber
Santa Monica, CA
Aug 18, 2013 - 01:51am PT
Yep, I've got friends evacuated from sun valley and others in Boise. Was this lightening or human caused? Looks really bad....stay safe everybody.
ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Aug 18, 2013 - 03:59am PT
Yikes! That looks like a bad one for sure. And we've seen em bad before too. Had enough of all our forests lost right around us. All they do is come back as lodgepole instead of the Larch, yellow pine, fir and spruce they were.

All the best with this one.

Arne
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Aug 18, 2013 - 06:33am PT
Hope all you guys stay safe. I've got friends who live just west of Hailey out in Croy Creek. Looks like they might have been evacuated: http://maps.co.blaine.id.us/beavercreekfiremap/ Can anyone confirm that this area has been evacuated? Thanks.
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Aug 18, 2013 - 07:58am PT
Bummer, hoping for the best for folks in that area
Drove through there in June on my way for a river trip and man it was pouring down rain and fairly soaked, amazing what a couple months later looks like.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
Aug 18, 2013 - 08:10am PT
Love that Valley, hope it's not too bad.
110 years of fire suppression, coupled with climate change, are recipes for BIG fire!!!!
Best,
E
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Aug 18, 2013 - 10:22am PT
Good LUCK up there to all the Idahoans!

Idaho has been known for big burns since the very early 1900s.

Hope they get rained on soon!
kpinwalla2

Social climber
WA
Aug 18, 2013 - 10:43am PT
Hey Fritz - Crazy coincidence... My wife and I are (were?) planing on celebrating OUR 25th anniversary in the Ketchum/Stanley area in late September. We were hoping to enjoy the area's fantastic mtn. biking. Any idea if the fires have affected any of the popular areas such as Adam's Gulch?
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2013 - 10:45am PT
Things are looking a little better on the Beaver Fire this morning. The fire that was burning above Hailey has been stopped.

This fire and all current large fires in Idaho were caused by lightning.

Jaaan: Croy Creek was evacuated and much of the north side of it burned after crews set backfires at the mouth of Croy to protect Hailey early Sat. morning. The backfire raced up the canyon with fire crews chasing it. No structures were lost, but it was apparently a close-run fight.

Here's a view from Hailey looking west up Croy Cr. at 3:00 A.M. Sat morning.
credit Stein Sitzmark.
credit Stein Sitzmark.
Credit: Fritz
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Aug 18, 2013 - 10:51am PT
Thank goodness for that. Thank you Fritz.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Aug 18, 2013 - 10:53am PT
Hows the Stanley basin Fritz?
paganmonkeyboy

climber
mars...it's near nevada...
Aug 18, 2013 - 10:53am PT
I don't know how it is in Idaho, but based on my observations of UT and CO anything over 9-10k feet is more than half standing dead evergreens at the moment...N and S side Uintas, Rabbit Ears and the Zirks, Cameron Pass/Rawahs, Central UT - all of it is over half standing dead by my drive-by assessment...

It wasn't this bad 5 years ago - the speed at which this happened astounds me...

Extrapolating this all the way to Canada one can see the potential for quick and catastrophic events with far reaching consequences...its spoooky...
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2013 - 10:55am PT
Kpinwalla2: Small world ain't it?

So far Adams Gulch is spared. Since much of it burned in 2007, it is somewhat more fire-resistant, although a Forest Service official was whinning yesterday that due to "new-growth" in the 2007 burn area, the Beaver Fire was making some inroads into the old burn.

Upper Greenhorn Gulch, Upper Warm Springs, and most all of Deer Creek have all burned and were all popular mountain bike areas for better riders.

Still lots of unburned areas around there. It should be great in September.

Here's a fire map that was accurate as of yesterday morning.
Credit: Fritz
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Aug 18, 2013 - 10:57am PT
Forests reached zones of imminent mortality a while ago. They now die off in large swaths creating a new zone of imminent mortality, large fires.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2013 - 11:06am PT
Ron: Sawtooths and Stanley are fine. It has been smokey on and off there the last few weeks, since the area is more or less surrounded by large fires.

The Sawtooth web-cam shows a nice-clear view of the mountains this morning.

http://www.sawtoothcamera.com/

By contrast, the Sun Valley cams 60 miles SE of Stanley show a smokey morning. http://www.sunvalley.com/mountain/webcams/

This photo is a current view from the Sun Valley Golf course of the great ski-mountain Baldy about 3 miles away. Looks like visability if a little less than 3 miles.
http://www.sunvalley.com/mountain/webcams/
http://www.sunvalley.com/mountain/webcams/
Credit: Fritz
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Aug 18, 2013 - 11:22am PT
Heidi & I have room reservations in Ketchum next week to celebrate our 25th anniversary with friends from the area. It now looks like that may not be happening.

Fritz and Heidi,
May your love flames burn hotter than those in the Ketchum area,
happy anniversary!!!
Tad
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Aug 18, 2013 - 11:56am PT
Happy Anniversary, Fritz!

Very dramatic photos...thanks for posting.

Haze over the Tetons, this morning. 100 plus miles downwind...

Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Aug 18, 2013 - 12:08pm PT
We had lightning yesterday- several small fires in the pine nut range, but they all seem quiet today.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Aug 18, 2013 - 12:09pm PT
Fritz-

All the best to you and Heidi celebrating 25 years together! Bad news about the fires, though.

Rodger
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
I don't know the gent, but John R. Parsons has an interesting Facebook post on the fire this morning. He is initially talking about the fire west of Hailey on Sat. morning. It is now confessed that the back-fire the Forest Service set on Carbonate Mt. to save Hailey then raced up the north-side of Croy Creek with fire-crews chasing it. The fire burned as far west as Rotarun ski area, before being controlled.

It is also now confessed that the DC-10 used on the fire lost it's rear engine over the fire last week. It somehow did not fall out of the sky.



Joh R. Parsons
"The Battle of Hailey" was won in the trenches sometime between 2-4 am this morning. It was a genuine hand-to-hand battle just as we surmised it might be. In fact, at today's Hailey Community Meeting "Out in Deer Creek and Green Horn, we got our butts kicked," said Blaine County Fire Chief Bart Lassman.

There were 40 municipal fire engines and their crews who went face-to-face with the fires, often being backed right to the walls of the houses they were protecting. Not a structure was lost last night. Miracles happen. Prayers ARE answered.

Resources are now pouring into The Beaver Creek Fire.

10Tanker had a Hollywood Moment Thursday. The DC-10 lost an engine over The Beaver Creek Fire and almost stalled before the crew could recover. Consider that this DC-10 routinely comes in 300 feet off the deck to drop its retardant. There's not a lot of margin for error in a DC-10 when you're 300 feet from those Wood River Valley Hills. Witnesses said they heard a loud pop and the plane sagged toward earth. The crew somehow rallied the giant aircraft and limped toward Pocatello calling out "Emergency, Emergency" on their radio. Luckily, the giant aircraft landed safely and is now being repaired.
Forest Service photo of DC-10 drop on Beaver fire.
Forest Service photo of DC-10 drop on Beaver fire.
Credit: Fritz

photo by Jeff Pfaeffle of the tail engine fire on the DC-10.
photo by Jeff Pfaeffle of the tail engine fire on the DC-10.
Credit: Fritz

Meanwhile, 10Tanker's twin DC-10 has taken over fire bombing duties. Meanwhile, the Forest Service ordered up yet another MAFFS C-130 and so three of The Big Birds were playing Tag Team on the fire today. And, of course, meanwhile, the fire has five huge Type 1 helicopters swarming overhead to remind us of Mohammed Ali's famous line, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

Municipal fire trucks continue to stream into Wood River Valley. Federal resources are pouring in as well. The Beaver Creek Fire is making national news on network and cable TV and has virtually taken over the regional media outlets.

A total of 2250 homes are under mandatory evacuation and another 7,350 under "pre-evacuation" notices. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are moving in all directions seeking shelters, motels, campsites and just Friend's homes in which to bunk down.

As we said last night, if Hollywood tried to dream up a script such as this, no one would believe it. However, this is true. it's reality. It's really happening.

Meanwhile, believe it or not, the fire crews are winning. It's such a truly awe-inspiring story to follow in real-time, we simply can't stop watching and reading. The West is filled with about 200 years of stranger-than-fiction Real Life Dramas. This is yet another chapter in a saga of courage, determination, pluck and, yes, a little luck. This is an evolving story of the role of sheer human effort winning against all odds.

It is quite simply a mesmerizing story unfolding to behold.
Jelf

climber
Aug 18, 2013 - 04:37pm PT
The following link will always display the most perimeter of the Beaver Creek Fire straight from the GeoMAC server. This is the same server that also provides data to the crews on the fire line. Sometimes the data on the InciWeb site is not as current as the data that comes from the GeoMAC server. (The InciWeb site gets its data from GeoMAC.)

To see high resolution topographic maps first open the ‘map type’ menu and then select “t4 Topo High”. The ‘map type’ button always displays the name of the current basemap and is in the upper right corner of the map (lower right corner on mobile devices).

To see the basemap prepared by the Blaine County GIS staff, including parcel lines, open the ‘map type' menu and then select "Blaine_County_basemap". Zoom in for more detail. You can also try Menu ==> Search.

To always open the map zoomed in on a specific spot, first make the map look the way you want it to look on your screen. Then click (or touch) Menu ==> Link to this map.

If you open this link on a smartphone or other mobile device then you will automatically see a touch-friendly interface.

http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php?ll=43.58445,-114.467517&z=11&t=m,Fire_perimeter,Fires,Blaine_County_basemap&wms=http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov/ArcGIS/services/geomac_dyn/MapServer/WMSServer?name=Fire_perimeter&layers=23&transparent=true&wms=http://wildfire.cr.usgs.gov/ArcGIS/services/geomac_dyn/MapServer/WMSServer?name=Fires&layers=24&transparent=true&rest=http://maps.co.blaine.id.us/bcgis/rest/services/BlaineCoBaseMapFGDB/MapServer?name=Blaine_County_basemap&layers=0-51

For more information on GeoMAC see:
http://www.geomac.gov/index.shtml

The map is displayed by Gmap4 which is an enhanced Google map viewer that I developed. To see the perimeter for other fires simply zoom out and pan the map.

Gmap4 homepage: http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html

Joseph, the Gmap4 guy
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 18, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
Joseph: Thanks for the links. Works for me. I do appreciate the Inciweb link maps are often out of date.

Thanks everyone for the anniversary wishes! Things are looking more encouraging for the Sun Valley area today.

But the Schist just keeps coming for Idaho. There is a new fire that is burning hot on the SW side of the Sawtooth Mtns.

The Little Queens Fire is already at 1,000 acres and is currently staffed by 4 observers. It will likely affect air quality in the Stanley area, and there are already trail closures in the area.

http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3663/

Here's some more photos from the Beaver Cr. fire.

The main firecamp on Big Wood River with the fire coming for it on 8/1...
The main firecamp on Big Wood River with the fire coming for it on 8/16.
Credit: Fritz

Panorama of fire camp and fires on 8/17 by Jacques Bordeleau.
Panorama of fire camp and fires on 8/17 by Jacques Bordeleau.
Credit: Fritz

Burning above Big Wood River between Deer Cr. & Greenhorn Gulch on 8/1...
Burning above Big Wood River between Deer Cr. & Greenhorn Gulch on 8/16. Photo by Ben McCoy.
Credit: Fritz

Greenhorn Gulch spot fires on 8/15.  At times the fire was spotting ou...
Greenhorn Gulch spot fires on 8/15. At times the fire was spotting out to one mile in front of the main flames.
Credit: USFS

A side canyon of Greenhorn Gulch, named Imperial Gulch, on 8/15.
A side canyon of Greenhorn Gulch, named Imperial Gulch, on 8/15.
Credit: Fritz

Note all the smallish fire tornados, and spot fires in front of the wa...
Note all the smallish fire tornados, and spot fires in front of the wall of flames.
Credit: USFS

Timber Gulch burnout today.  Note the large-black tornado.  Timber Gul...
Timber Gulch burnout today. Note the large-black tornado. Timber Gulch heads up at Mt. Baldy,the main ski mountain for Sun Valley. The Forest Service folks assert this is all under control.
Credit: Ben McCoy


susan peplow

climber
Joshua Tree, CA
Aug 18, 2013 - 08:13pm PT
A shout out for safety of one of our own Supertopian's Chris Trudeau. Almost for certain in the thick of this as he's the Helitack Superintendent for Swan Valley just east of there. Hoping for speedy containment and most importantly safety of residents and firefighters!
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Aug 20, 2013 - 08:02am PT
Bump for this. Does anyone have any updates - particularly Croy Creek - Fritz, anyone? The inciweb and Blaine sites don't seem to give much away.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 20, 2013 - 09:50am PT
Jaaan & all: Things are looking much better on the Beaver Creek fire.

Looking at recent updates:

Pre-evacuation alert for Ketchum & Sun Valley were lifted last night.

Sat. photos of the fire at 3:00 A.M. this morning show recent burning only on the N.E. corner of the fire.

Most all of Croy Cr. burned on the N. side of the main road, but no structures are reported lost.

Currently 1,800 fire-fighters and a bunch of copters, planes, and bull-dozers are in the area.

Fire manager was optimistic last night about total control of the fire happening soon.

Scattered showers and higher humidity are expected for the next three days.

On the down-side, the new Little Queens fire on the S.W side of the Sawtooth Range is up to 7,000 areas and the nearby ghost/mining/tourist town of Atlanta is under mandatory evacuation. Smoke was very bad yesterday in the south-end of the Sawtooths.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Aug 20, 2013 - 10:03am PT
Thanks again Fritz.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Aug 20, 2013 - 11:28am PT
Idaho is having the year Fritz! Ill pray for some H20 for ya up there!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Aug 20, 2013 - 12:15pm PT
Today's paper says it is still only 9% contained/97Kacres with continued
potential strong winds. :-(

I remember a fire in E Washington in the 70's was about 40K acres and that
was considered nearly cataclysmic back then. That would be considered
NBD these days. Our Station Fire two years ago was 160K acres.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Aug 21, 2013 - 11:45am PT
Seems things are looking a bit better now. My friends have been told they can hopefully go home today or tomorrow.

Question is now what can be done about the 100 years of fire suppression timber that's just waiting to go up again? Can it be safely burned under control? Is there an official strategy to somehow deal with this?
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Aug 21, 2013 - 11:55am PT
Jaaan NO the forests do NOT burn naturally any more. The fuel loads man made through years of fire suppression. OUR GOVT ignores this all in favor of giving $$$$$ to anybody else in the world. So there IS NO plan to actually do what is needed.


Idaho was a fire record setter back in the 1910 period when million acre fires were seen! So for some areas up there - its 113 yrs of fuel growing, and no burning.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Aug 21, 2013 - 12:07pm PT
All of these fires would be NBD, if there were some selective timber harvesting and removal of the underburden. The fires near my ranch/home last year were a result of lots of old and beetle killed timber going up in smoke and flames. The selective removal of dead trees by firewood users hd been discontinued. Everything simply becomes a throwaway under the current system.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Aug 21, 2013 - 12:16pm PT
I was climbing at Elephant's Perch last year and we could see and smell the smoke from the Halstead fire. From what you say about the big fires back in 1910 Idaho does seem to have a bad track record. Do other states suffer in this way/as badly? I guess California is one...?
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Aug 22, 2013 - 08:12am PT
My friend in Idaho, Marion A. Carlson, who owns a hay farm up there, has posted this picture on her FB Timeline.
Blazin' away!
Blazin' away!
Credit: Mandy Carlson

Mandy Carlson was from Merced and knew The Flames intimately.

She resided in Wawona for a time "back when."

One night, in fall, she hosted one fine party there.

We gladly went, for it was raining like heck in the Valley.

Even Flames need someplace to dry out.

The beer was flowing...hardly a dry night!

Oh, how I wish it would rain!
Bad Climber

climber
Aug 22, 2013 - 09:15am PT
I'm hoping for the best in Idaho. We need fires, but we like to live in areas meant to burn. Not a good combo. Y'all should know that beetle kill IS NOT an indicator of increased fire risk. It just looks that way. Here's a quote from a leading scientist/forester:

Below is an excerpt from Dr. Kulakowski’s testimony on April 11, 2013 before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation of the Committee on Natural Resources of the United States House of Representatives. He was providing information for the committee members to consider when they vote on H.R. 1442, a proposed bill with a strange name, the “Depleting Risk from Insect Infestation, Soil Erosion, and Catastrophic Fire Act of 2013″.



“…Another example is that of a major outbreak of spruce beetle in spruce and fir forests in Colorado in the 1940s, following which there was substantial concern about the increased risk of fire. But although over 300 fires occurred in that region in the decades that followed, our research found that the forests affected by beetles were no more likely to have burned than other forests. Furthermore, no major fires occurred in those beetle-affected forests in the years and decades that followed the outbreak despite the abundance of dead trees. The most likely explanation for this lack of large severe fires is that climatic conditions in these forests are a more important factor in determining fire risk than is the presence of dead trees. In fact, it was not until a severe drought in 2002 that a large fire affected these forests. During that year there were many wildfires in Colorado, the majority of which burned forests with no recent history of outbreaks.

The article: http://wildfiretoday.com/tag/beetles/

Counter-intuitive, yo!

BAd
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Aug 22, 2013 - 11:01am PT
That quoted statement is a perfect example of mealy-mouthed double-speak. Of course there's no greater risk of a fire "outbreak." That is normally left to lightning. The old dry beetle killed timber burns like crazy once it's ignited, though. In the northern Medicine Bow National Forest near my ranch, there hasn't been anything done to reduce the spread of wildfires, such as selective removal of 100 years of accumulated dead timber; this resulted in over 150K acres being destroyed last Summer.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
Aug 22, 2013 - 12:09pm PT
Am I being naďve in thinking that one of the reasons that there is a beetle problem is that fires that would otherwise have wiped them out, have been suppressed?
John M

climber
Aug 22, 2013 - 12:20pm PT
Brokedown.. that article goes on to say..

Furthermore, no major fires occurred in those beetle-affected forests in the years and decades that followed the outbreak despite the abundance of dead trees.

He then theorizes that weather is the primary difference, not dead trees. I have no idea, but it is interesting to me how much a fire will lay down at night, with just a 20 to 40 degree drop in temperature, even though the flash point of wood is 572 degrees. This to me points to the significance of weather. I'm not a fire guy, so I don't really know. It seems like dead trees would make for more fierce fires. It takes longer for green stuff to catch, but when it does, it can really go up.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Aug 22, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
John M- You surmise correctly. Dry wood ignites a lot faster/easier than green wood.

Beetles seem to like old and mature trees. My ex and I formerly owned 160 acres that was entirely surrounded by National Forest, and the dead trees there (beetle kill) were predominantly "mature" Ponderosa pines and black pines. The younger trees were still mostly green and viable. We were engaged in cutting down the big dead ones on our property to clear space for a cabin, firewood, and fire control when we finally decided to sell the land. That acreage was burned to the ground last year. It saddens me to see the beautiful trees all turned to dust and ashes.

Edited 10:43 AM.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2013 - 04:54pm PT
A lot of Idaho burns most-every summer, however as Ron Anderson mentioned: The Big Burn of 1910 set the record:

The Great Fire of 1910 (also commonly referred to as the Big Blowup, the Big Burn, or the Devil's Broom fire) was a wildfire that burned about three million acres (12,140 km2, approximately the size of Connecticut) in northeast Washington, northern Idaho (the panhandle), and western Montana.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_1910

That fire also set in motion the concept of complete forest-fire suppression that dominated Forest Service thinking until a few years back, when lower budgets and more fires helped to turn around almost 90 years of fighting forest fires with every resouce available.

One of the leading theories on complete fire suppression in the Northern Rockies was that Lodgepole Pine, which is a "fire-species" would be naturally replaced by longer lived non-fire species such as Douglas Fir & Spruce. That would gradually help to change an entire ecosystem from fire-oriented vegetation to wetter non-fire oriented vegetation.

It seemed to be working in some places. In the 1970's on the upper Middle Fork Salmon drainage, I could see it happening.

However, with current budgets for fire suppression and what appears to be a hotter and drier climate, most all of Idaho has burned in the last 15 years.

Here are Modis Satellite Fire Maps, showing in yellow areas that burned in the Upper Great Basin, I have areas burned for 2006 & 2007, then skip to 2010-to present. The 2007 photo is of West-Central Idaho, but the other photos show central & S. Idaho, eastern Nevada, most of Utah, and parts of SW Montana & Western Wyoming.

2006 fires.  Click to expand.
2006 fires. Click to expand.
Credit: Fritz

2007 West-central Idaho fires shown in grey.  Lowest fire burned a lar...
2007 West-central Idaho fires shown in grey. Lowest fire burned a large area just west of Sun Valley.
Credit: Fritz

2010 fires in yellow, click to expand
2010 fires in yellow, click to expand
Credit: Fritz

2011 fires
2011 fires
Credit: Fritz

2012 fires
2012 fires
Credit: Fritz
2013 fires to Aug 22.
2013 fires to Aug 22.
Credit: Fritz


Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2013 - 11:19pm PT

A historical note from my working for a Forest Service helicopter fire-crew based out of Hailey Idaho in the late 1960's. We had our Forest Service fire-retardant mixer, which we would climb up to with heavy bags of retardant to mix with water.

The fire-retardant was delivered by huge single-engine WWII surplus TBM Avenger torpedo bombers. The TBM Avenger is the largest single engine propeller driven airplane to operate from an aircraft carrier. During fire-fighing operations, they held up to 600 gallons of retardant. Photo below is a Forest Service file photo of a TBM Avenger.
Credit: Fritz
The planes had a huge rotary-engine which vibrated the air and ground like -------the flight-deck on a WWII Aircraft Carrier.


Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Aug 23, 2013 - 09:46am PT
Fritz-

Another popular ex-Navy airplane is the twin engine P2V Neptune Antisubmarine warfare patrol bomber. At the height of the 2012 fire season in Wyoming last August, there were 2 Neptunes and 2 DC-10s operating from KCPR (Casper) in the fire retardant dropping-role, in addition to several single engine Ag-cats and helicopters. The extreme dryness exacerbated the problem of lots of old growth and beetle killed timber in inaccessible terrain. There were at one time 3 separate fires burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest all at the same time, which spread the fire fighting resources pretty thin. A lot of economic benefit would have resulted from some selective timber harvesting: fewer burned cabins and cremated wildlife, in addition to the revenue accrued to the FS from timber sales.
Yeti

Trad climber
Ketchum, Idaho
Aug 26, 2013 - 01:26pm PT
Fritz: Thanks much for the good wishes. We live in East Fork and on the 15th I watched the Greenhorn burn for a few hours before packing a few irreplaceables up in time to be pre-evacuated. I stashed the priceless things with a friend in a safe zone and joined several other Wood River Valley homeless people for a few days of climbing at the City. Climbing was good and it's amazing how simple life can be without all that 'stuff' in the house. We're in Bozeman but will be back in East Fork this week and if you're going to the city this weekend let me know. Happy Anniversary! Yeti
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Aug 26, 2013 - 01:32pm PT
I remember those Avengers fighting the fires around Salt Lake Valley.
One particularly vivid memory of them making 3 or 4 drops one afternoon on the lower slopes of Mt Olympus just above town. Could see them from my yard but Mom drove us up 39th south to get a closer view (she loved that stuff). Now nothing but houses all they way up to the lowest slabs on Olympus. No range fires up there now.
CalFire retired their P2Vs a couple of years ago.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 26, 2013 - 10:50pm PT
Yeti! I am soooo-glad the Beaver Creek Fire ended well for the Wood River Valley.

It looks like you were able to get out of the smoke and have some fun too.

I really like this photo, taken by the wife of a friend, of his mowing their lawn, while the fire above Hailey backs down Carbonate Mountain.
The solution to uncontrollable  threats in rural America.  Mow the law...
The solution to uncontrollable threats in rural America. Mow the lawn, pull some weeds, & maybe have a drink.
Credit: Fritz

The fire did bring back some memories of being on a 1960's "Helitack" Fire Crew based out of Hailey.
File photo of a copter similar to ours.
File photo of a copter similar to ours.
Credit: Fritz
Our fire-copter was a Bell "bubble-top 47G that seated three.

One statistic I find interesting is: the second summer I worked Helitack, our Forest Service Region (S & Central Idaho, W. Wyoming, N Utah, & N. Nevada) had 16 helicopters assigned. 12 of them had accidents or mechanical failure and crashed during the summer.

The next summer our Vietnam-vet helicopter pilot Danny Danielson, and his mechanic took our copter for a test flight after maintenance. The engine died a couple thousand feet above Hailey Idaho, and Danny “auto-rotated” the copter in to a hard landing in a vacant lot. Danny & the mechanic jumped out of the smoking wreck and ran for safety, as it exploded behind them.




Yeti

Trad climber
Ketchum, Idaho
Aug 27, 2013 - 06:15pm PT
Fritz: The lawnmower operator is Matt Wells and that's the house I stayed in the night I was evacuated before going to the City. The fire wasn't there when I left....Cheers.....Yeti
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 25, 2013 - 05:55am PT
Huh, what?

That's beyond even me!

Whoot!
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 25, 2013 - 10:10am PT
Mouse: I think it's a plug for a video-----maybe, or just ravings by someone better at raving than you or me x 100?

So long as I'm here though. When early Sept. rains fell on the burned area up Greenhorn Gulch.

Looking east down Greenhorn Gulch towards Big Wood River.
Looking east down Greenhorn Gulch towards Big Wood River.
Credit: internet

The results were a series of mudslides. Luckily no more homes were destroyed and it was just a new sort of cleanup for some unlucky residents.
Credit: internet

When I was in the area for a day on Sept 20, the Greenhorn road was closed and it was evident that a sea of mud had covered the valley floor.
Credit: Fritz

Here's an aerial shot of the one home lost in the fire. It was at the mouth of a densely forested side-canyon to Greenhorn and word is that a unstoppable wall of flames came down that canyon and took out the house.
Credit: internet
BJ

climber
Oct 25, 2013 - 10:52am PT
Credit: BJ

That is actually an interesting photo. One hundred feet of unburned defenseable land surrounds a burned out hulk. I have to think the house was not built or maintained correctly in a fire zone
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Oct 25, 2013 - 11:50am PT
Most likely pine needles in the gutters or valleys of the roof. The best construction design and materials are moot if you don't do the annual maintenance.
BJ

climber
Oct 25, 2013 - 11:52am PT
That's what I was thinking.
FlakeBosson

Boulder climber
CA
Feb 15, 2014 - 03:39am PT
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fluffy

Trad climber
Colorado
Feb 15, 2014 - 04:12am PT
Ember loft: It only takes one landing on the the wrong spot. All the defensible space in the world won't help if the house is flammable and the fire is in the canopy or burning house to house. Structures burning in high winds tend to catch other structures on fire.

That Greenhorn Gulch pic is wild Fritz thanks for sharing.
DamionLiu

Boulder climber
New York, NY
Feb 27, 2014 - 02:44am PT
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BJ

climber
Feb 27, 2014 - 10:51am PT
/\ Perfectly stated
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 27, 2014 - 10:53am PT
IssacPumpas - I bet he does.
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