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Jet retardant bomber called in on Idaho wildfires

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By Keith Ridler
Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho -- A DC-10 jet fire retardant bomber flew into Idaho as part of an aggressive early attack on a pair of wildfires that have forced evacuations at two campgrounds and a Boy Scout camp.
Paul Sever of the Central Idaho Fire Center says the jumbo tanker flew in from Southern California on Saturday afternoon and made effective drops on the 50-acre Bradley fire and 600-acre Lodgepole fire.
He said on Sunday that firefighters are optimistic about containing the fires, especially the Bradley fire.
"Right now it's looking pretty good," he said. "We had air tankers hitting it hard last night. We got a lot of things there in a hurry. The chance of catching it at its current size is pretty good."
Chief Deputy Mike Talbot of the Custer County Sheriff's office said the Bradley fire, which was discovered about 4 p.m. Saturday 15 miles northwest of Stanley, forced the evacuation of about 25 people from the Bradley Boy Scout Camp and 75 from Beaver Creek Campground.
The Lodgepole fire, which is burning about 15 miles west of Challis, was discovered about noon Saturday and forced an unknown number of people to leave the Mosquito Flat Campground. No injuries or damage to buildings have been reported.
No containment percentage is being given for either fire.
Sever said the Bradley fire is burning through lodgepole in an area saved from last summer's 180-square-mile Halstead fire.
"They did a big effort protecting the Boy Scout camp last year, so this is an area that still had fuel available," he said.
The cause of the Bradley fire is under investigation.
The Lodgepole fire, the cause of which is also undetermined, was detected about four hours before the Bradley fire. Firefighters had been concentrating efforts there before the Bradley fire siphoned of resources, including part of the retardant load carried by the DC-10. Fire officials said the aircraft is flying out of Pocatello on Sunday.
"We had an aggressive initial attack," Sever said of the Lodgepole fire that's burning in a lodgepole forest. "But we moved stuff from there when the Bradley fire broke out."
He said the two fires don't appear to have the potential to reach the proportions of the massive Halstead fire last summer.
"They're in gentler terrain and we have more opportunity to do something with them," he said.
Federal authorities say 10 wildfires are now burning in Idaho.
"It's the time of year when we get busy in Idaho," Sever said. "We start getting lightning and 90 degree temperatures. It's about right on schedule."
One of the other fires is the 5-square-mile Ridge fire burning about 15 miles north of Lowman in south-central Idaho. More than 300 personnel are assigned to the blaze.
"Today we're just trying to construct secure line along the western edge of the fire, which is right now our best access and safest area to attack the fire," public information officer Jason Curry said.
He said six aircraft, along with seven ground fire crews of about 140 firefighters, are battling the lightning-caused fire that's burning in beetle-killed trees. The fire is about 5 percent contained.
Authorities say firefighters have been pulled off the lightning-caused Thunder City fire in north-central Idaho that started Friday after initial attempts to quash it failed and firefighters couldn't establish a safety zone. Officials said that fire is spotting into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area.

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