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Two Fires Push Smoke into the Stanley Basin
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Tuesday, September 7, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Even as firefighters appear to be getting a handle on the Lake Tahoe fire, they are finding themselves confronted with wildfires close to Sun Valley.

The Jake Gulch Fire reported on Sunday, Sept. 5, has burned 325 acres two miles west of Vienna on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

The fire, southwest of Alturas Lake and close to Smiley Creek, is burning in grass, brush lodgepole pine and Douglas fir. Two hotshot crews and smokejumpers began arriving at the scene on Monday, and aerial resources were called in to assist those attacking the fast moving fire from the ground.

Campers and hikers were evacuated and the public is asked to stay out of the area for their safety, as well as for those fighting the fire. Firefighters hope to have the fire contained by Sept. 20.

It is thought to be human caused.

Meanwhile, the Boundary Fire, which was 325 acres for days on end during its first week, has now burned 26,589 acres and is 20 percent contained.

It was fewer than 5,000 acres and 70 percent contained less than a week ago and has grown five-fold since, exacerbated by windy afternoon conditions.

The fire has encircled the Boundary Creek Launch Site where rafters put on for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It’s threatening Sulphur Creek Ranch on the west and has come close to Morgan Creek Ranch on the north and the Josephus Lake Campground on the east. It’s just north of Blue Bunch Mountain, a popular hiking area west of Stanley.

The lightning-caused fire was discovered Aug. 10. It has been torching, spotting and making uphill runs, growing to the northwest towards Morehead lookout. It also moved towards Blue Bunch Mountain up Dagger Creek.

The Boundary Creek road is currently inaccessible due to downed trees, although firefighters cleared a quarter mile of road on Sunday. They will clear additional road as conditions permit.

Crews continue to mop up the fire near Morgan Ranch and are working near Sulphur Creek Ranch.

The Bureau of Land Management lifted Stage One fire restrictions just ahead of the Labor Day Weekend leaving campers free to build a campfire outside of designated recreation sites, even though south-central and southern Idaho haven't seen rain for a couple weeks and the temperatures in this area are headed for the upper 80s. But Blaine County reiterated that its fire restrictions remain in place, making it unlawful to have an open flame not in a permanently constructed fire ring in a developed site. The use of explosive targets and fireworks is also banned.

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