ITD contributes to firefighting efforts

ITD reorganization the past year helped to elevate its emergency program and positions the department well as a major resource in battling raging wildfires throughout the state.

A combination of state and federal agencies worked this week to contain more than 30 wildland fires throughout Idaho. The seven largest fires consumed nearly 700,000 acres.

The largest active fire is the Mustang Complex in the North Fork Ranger District. It had scorched nearly 300,000 acres as of Sunday (Sept. 16). The fire was about 16 percent contained, with full containment estimated by Sept. 30.

Fire experts considered the 155,677-acre Halstead Fire near Stanley about 50 percent contained, with full containment expected by mid-October. The Trinity Ridge Fire northwest of Featherville was 64 percent contained at 146,677 acres. Firefighters projected containment by Oct. 1.

Other active fires include Powell SWB Complex in the Selway-Bitteerroot Wilderness (44,928 acres), Mcguire Complex near Dixie (26,502), Sheep Fire near Lucile (23,861 acres) and the Wesley Complex in the Council/New Meadows Ranger District (4,356).

ITD’s Emergency Program Manager Bryan Smith said the department committed assets and/or personnel to most of the fire suppression efforts, including:

  • District 4: Repositioned several of our satellite phones to use on Idaho 75 for emergency communications where radios and cell service were not adequate.
  • District 4 & 6: Implemented our Memorandum of Understanding with the Idaho Department of Lands that extends to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, for fire event traffic control.
  • Districts 4 & 6: Closures on Idaho 75 and U.S. 93 have occurred but both routes are open at this time.
  • District 4: Provided Idaho 75 fire traffic control for temporary road closures then turned over to a traffic control contractor.  Used message boards. Plowed for rockfall twice a day.  Incident Command contracted with us for additional trips if needed. 
  • District 4: Pine and Featherville, Trinity Ridge fire used VMS signs for off-system closures.
  • District 4: Suspended some maintenance projects to concentrate on support.
  • District 2: Provided portable VMS signs on U.S. 12 and U.S. 95 for warning of smoke and fire activities.
  • District 3: Received a letter of appreciation from the Incident Commander for help with the fire near Banks.
  • District 3: Accommodated the Lowman Forest Ranger’s request to put DMS messages concerning camping requirements during the critical conditions.

Published 9-21-2012