Rolling log injures Utah firefighter in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho — A member of an elite Utah-based hotshot crew has been hospitalized in Boise after a large log rolled over him while he worked to build a fire line on a central Idaho wildfire.

Officials said two other members of the 20-member Bonneville Hotshots based in West Valley City, Utah, received minor injuries in the same incident on Saturday. Trinity Ridge Fire spokesman Michael Williams said the hospitalized firefighter received chest, elbow and wrist injuries. He was expected to be released from the hospital Sunday but not return to firefighting for three weeks. It was unclear late Sunday if he had left the hospital.

Williams said the hotshot crew was taken off the fire Saturday but returned to firefighting Sunday. He said firefighters were sawing in the area where the log broke lose but were not working on the log that caused the injuries. A review of the incident is planned.

“At this point there doesn’t seem to be anything that was done wrong,” said Williams. “There’s always going to be that unaccountable factor.”

Earlier this month a 20-year-old Idaho firefighter was killed in northern Idaho by a falling tree.

The Trinity Ridge Fire grew slightly to about 192 square miles by Sunday morning but officials said a back burn operation started Wednesday had so far been successful in preventing flames from reaching the evacuated town of Featherville. Some 1,200 firefighters are assigned to the blaze along with a variety of aircraft and ground equipment.

The northwest portion of the fire was about 13 miles from Idaho City but Williams said prediction models gave the fire only a 5 percent chance of reaching the town. He said the fire in some places has moved into areas that burned areas years ago and as a result the current wildfire doesn’t have as much fuel.

The fire that began Aug. 3 when a utility terrain vehicle caught fire is listed at 5 percent contained. It’s been burning through forests containing lodgepole pine, sub-alpine fire, mixed conifer and ponderosa pine.

To the north the lightning-caused Halstead Fire was mapped at about 160 square miles and was 7 percent contained. Officials said the fire grew about 5 square miles and is pushing south and east. There have also been spot fires, including one about five miles west of Stanley near Cow Camp.

Crews on Sunday worked to hold the fire north of State Highway 75 and east of State Highway 21, both of which remain open to the tourist destination of Stanley.

Nearly 600 firefighters are fighting the fire that started July 27.

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