Wildfire forces evacuation of Idaho campers

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho wildfire managers are bringing in more personnel and equipment to battle a fire south of Stanley that forced the evacuation of Redfish Lake campers and guests at the historic lodge.

The 210 Road Fire, which ignited Monday afternoon, has burned less than a square mile of lodgepole pine and brush. At one point, the fire burned to the border of a state fish hatchery and a nearby subdivision, but no structures were damaged, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Shortly after the fire started, forest officials opted to evacuate the series of campgrounds on the lake’s southern edge and guests booked at the Redfish Lake Lodge, built in 1929 on the north shore of the lake at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains.

The area remained under an evacuation order Tuesday.

“The lodge and the campgrounds were not immediately threatened,” said Linda Steinhaus, a spokeswoman for the fire. “The evacuation was really all about public safety at the time.”

Fire managers have called in an elite Type 1 command staff to take over the fire starting Wednesday. Until then, a pair of hotshot crews with air support will work to manage the fire’s growth, said Julie Thomas, spokeswoman for the Sawtooth National Forest.

“The fire has really outgrown the resources we have in place right now,” she said.

The 210 Fire is the latest wildfire burning across southern and eastern Idaho, a section of the state that has experienced steady temperatures in the high 90s, lightning strikes and a lack of rain. As of Tuesday, more than 1,000 firefighters, managers and support staff were assigned to 11 fires across the region.

Near the town of Challis, crews were working on the Lodgepole Fire that started Saturday and so far has scorched nearly 2 square miles, led to the evacuation of three ranch homes and the closure of a forest service campground.

The largest fire in the state is the 11-square-mile Brown Butte Fire near Shoshone. Officials said the blaze was smoldering and almost completely contained.

Crews have also gained the upper hand on the human-caused Pine Creek Fire, which started last week in the forested mountains northeast of Boise and so far has burned 4.3 square miles. Officials said the blaze was 90 percent contained and mop-up crews were to focus on rehabbing fire lines and monitoring areas where the fire was still smoldering.

The Ridge Fire, burning 14 miles north of the town of Lowman, grew Monday and has now charred nearly 6 square miles, some of it into an area of the forest scorched during the summer of 2006. The fire was 10 percent contained.

Four more crews have been called in to help build fire lines north of the fire.

Firefighters in northern Idaho also responded quickly to a 10-acre fire that broke out Monday in Q’Emlin Park in Post Falls. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but fire crews from Alberta, Canada, joined local forces to fight the blaze burning in a municipal park and its 40-acre trail system.

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