Campers, residents evacuated as Elk Complex fire spreads; community meetings scheduled
Firefighters endured another long night on the fire lines working to keep both the Elk and Pony Complexes at bay, according to Boise National Forest spokesman Dave Olson.
Officials said the Elk Complex fire is now about 80,365 acres and 0% contained. Both ground and air resources employed strategies and tactics to battle the fire east of Prairie towards the landing strip. Late yesterday, the fire moved into the Lester and Fall Creek, Olson said.
“As of Sunday morning, the lodge in Falls Creek and approximately 20 structures have not been damaged by the fire, but it is believed there is structure loss further up the drainage. The Lester Creek Guard Station has not been damaged,” Olson said.
A 600-acre spot fire occurred late Saturday on the north side of the South Fork Boise River in the Rock Creek drainage. This is a concern as the fire may move north out of the river corridor and effect areas west of Prairie.
“On Sunday morning, the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department started notifying residents from Johnson Bridge (about half-way between Pine and Featherville) south to the junction of the Pine/Featherville Road and Highway 20 that they need to leave the area. Campers are also currently being requested to leave. The fire situation and potential for growth will be evaluated as the day progresses regarding further evacuation needs. The Sheriff’s office has established a road block at the Pine/Featherville Road and Highway 20 junction,” Olson stated.
Access to the Falls Creek area is restricted.
A public meeting is scheduled in Pine at the Pine Senior Center Sunday at 6 PM.
“The Pony Complex experienced extreme fire behavior Saturday and the fire is now estimated at 100,090 acres and is about 10% contained,” Olson said. “Crews conducted burnout operations in and around dispersed residences and ranches in an attempt to stop the forward progression of the fire to the west near the community of Mayfield. Currently, the fire has reached the Blacks Creek Road."
The Danskin Lookout was evacuated and retardant was used to protect the structure. An unknown amount of cows and sheep, that are associated with Forest Service allotments, are missing/unaccounted.
A second public meeting is scheduled for Sunday evening at 6 PM at the Elk’s Lodge in Mountain Home. Fire officials from the Elk Complex also will be present at the meeting to provide an update.
According to a news release issued by the Boise National Forest, the following road closures continue to be place:
• Blacks Creek Road off I-84 at the Mayfield Road junction
• Indian Creek Road off I-84 at exit 71
• Anderson Ranch Dam south on the Dixie Creek Cut-off to Hwy 20
• Prairie Road/Cow Creek Road heading north from Hwy 20
• Forest Road 128 from Pine
Due to extreme fire behavior, the following area evacuations have been issued by the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office:
• The community of Prairie and Mayfield (which includes Regina, Indian Creek and Baseline);
• Anderson Dam Reservoir up Fall Creek Road to Ice Springs Campground then east to Lester Creek Guard Station;
• Danskin fire lookout.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation shelter at the Good Council Hall in Mountain Home for any residents that have been displaced due to the fires.
The Boise National Forest has initiated a large area closure that extends roughly from the Pine/Featherville road on the east; Forest Road172 and the William Pogue Trail to the north; the Middle Fork of the Boise River to Arrowrock Reservoir; then extending south along the forest boundary to the north side of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Additionally, the Trinity Lakes Recreation area is closed.
The Middle Fork of the Boise River Road is open.
(photo: courtesy inciweb.org)