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Disaster and Accident

Firefighters find fire while fighting fire in Indian Valley

The Adams County Record of Council, Idaho

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Firefighters responding to a range fire in Indian Valley on Monday happened to notice smoke rising in the foothills to the east, and found they had another blaze on their hands.

It all started late Sunday night as porcupine hunters looking for fleet-footed pricklies for the 4th of July races reported a fire started by the lightning storm that has just passed over the area.

The initial blaze was discovered on Monday Gulch Road near the old Dunham homestead around 12:30 a.m. Monday. The Indian Valley Fire Department turned out and knocked that fire down early Monday morning, but the heat and the wind revived the blaze.

"Conditions are incredibly hot and dry out there," said Robin Juica, IVRFD training officer. "You wouldn't believe how much heat is put off by burning dried cow pies." With the wind kicking up and threatening to drive the flames, IVRFD called for assistance Monday afternoon. Midvale RFD arrived on scene, along with a heli-tack crew from the Boise District BLM.

While they were getting the upper hand on the fire on Monday Gulch, several firefighters noticed smoke south of the Little Weiser River in the foothills east of Indian Valley Road. In for a penny, in for a pound, their job suddenly expanded.

Fire #1 was brought under control after scorching 10 or 11 acres, according to IVRFD Chief Tim Toomey. No buildings were damaged and no injuries reported.

But fire #2, the Shirts Fire, burning in grass and brush, quickly grew. By Monday night the fire had burned 1,200 acres, and by Tuesday morning, it had grown to 2,065 acres. A BLM spokesperson said crews were making progress but had no estimated time of control or containment. The fire continued to burn along Mill Creek south of Indian Valley. Limited road access and rugged terrain were making it difficult to attack the fire.

Resources on scene include 5 engines, 3 dozers, 2 hand crews, smoke jumpers, 1 single engine air tanker, and 2 water tenders.

Bruce Winegar, a rancher from Weiser, has cattle on the Twin Sister BLM allotment where the fire is burning. He rode horses into the area Monday night to check on his livestock and was impressed with the job the BLM crews were doing.

"They didn't wait around to see what this fire was going to do," Winegar said. "They did a great job of putting all the available resources on the fire quickly. They brought it and hit it hard."

Winegar said his cattle appeared to be out of harm's way, but he knows the same cannot be said for the firefighters. "I'm very thankful that they're out there. I know they're putting their lives on the line for us," he said.

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Original Publication Date: July 1, 2015

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