Pioneer Fire bill rises as fire-cost reform stalls in Congress
By Rocky Barker September 25, 2016 Idaho Statesman
Rain has cooled the flames of Idaho’s Pioneer Fire , which at more than 188,000 acres is the largest fire in the nation.
The fire started west of Idaho City in the backcountry July 18, around the same time the Mile Marker 14 Fire was threatening homes in the Boise Foothills. The Pioneer Fire grew and threatened Lowman and rural homes along the South Fork of the Payette River as well as hamlets like Pioneerville for weeks.
Most of the local criticism of the firefighting effort was the traditional view that firefighters should have been able to corral it before it got big. But while firefighters put out 98 percent of wildfires, the 2 percent that escape account for 30 percent of the costs in forests thick with fuel after a century of fire suppression and because of climate change.
No homes were burned and no lives lost. Thousands of acres of timber burned, smoke filled communities including Boise and Stanley, and roads and forest lands popular for recreation were closed for weeks.
At Pioneer’s peak, 1,800 firefighters fought the fire, along with dozens of engines, airplanes, helicopters and seven different fire management teams.
The cost of the fire exceeded $93 million by Thursday, and with 430 firefighters still on the ground rehabilitating fire lines and completing containment, the cost is certain to exceed $100 million before it is done.
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Boise National Forest
Date of Origin Monday July 18th, 2016
Location 8 miles north of Idaho City
Total Personnel 336
Size 188,404 Acres
Pioneer Fire Maps
Sept 27th Pioneer Fire Update
LOWMAN, Idaho – Temperatures in the Lowman area soared to the mid 80’s yesterday, marking a 12 degree jump from normal. Consequently, areas above Scott’s Creek and Nellie Creek that are exposed to sun and wind began torching. For the first time in a week, firefighters called on the assistance of a helicopter to deliver water.
The warming and drying trend will build through tomorrow. Trees in the interior may begin torching while pockets of heat that are still smoldering may begin to creep as a result. Firefighters are in key locations to take action if necessary to prevent further growth.
An infrared flight took place last night to detect areas of heat that remain of concern to firefighters. A spot below the Deadwood Lookout and a spot behind the Summer Homes in Long Creek will be assessed today. If firefighters can access the areas, they will mop-up the heat. Isolated pockets of heat will require firefighter’s attention until sustained rain or snow extinguishes the Fire.
Crews are repairing suppression impacts in areas where the Fire is cold. This includes collecting unnecessary hoses, pumps, equipment, flagging and other signage that has accumulated over time.
In the northern parts of the fire, crews are removing snags along the 555 and associated spur roads. Two pieces of dozer line are being repaired by three excavators. These are located above the Middle Fork of Warm Springs Creek and north of the 579 Road west of Deer Flat. Firefighters will finish most of the repair work by the weekend.
Firefighters are also repairing steep handlines that once tied into Scott Creek. This involves placing water bars and covering the four foot wide containment line with cut vegetation. This activity reduces erosion and stream sedimentation, which is important to protect fish habitat. This also reduces scarring and will prevent future use of the area.
In the southern part of the fire, a machine is chipping woody debris along the 316 Road.
There will be very little change in the unseasonably warm temperatures and drying conditions. Skies will be mostly sunny through the day and into Wednesday. Fire behavior may increase as these conditions persist.
For more information about remaining forest closures, visit the Boise National Forest website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/boise/alerts-notices .
EVACUATION NOTICES: The Summer Homes in Long Creek area are at a Level 1 Notices.
HUNTING INFORMATION: https://idfg.idaho.gov/blog/2016/08/get-current-fire-information-here.
Acres: 188,404 Containment: 65 percent Personnel: 336
Cost: $95.0M Resources assigned: 4 crews, 5 helicopters, 14 engines, 1 water tender