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Pioneer Fire grows, community meets in Lowman

Historian helps fire crews avoid buried dynamite
Posted at 10:21 PM, Aug 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-04 13:50:20-04

More than 1,400 fire personnel from all over the country are fighting everything from changing weather to possible buried dynamite as they try to contain the Pioneer Fire.

Despite their efforts, the fire was only about 36 percent contained Wednesday night.

The fire, burning near the town of Lowman, had reached nearly 50,000 acres.

With steep terrain, dry fuels, and poor access, that number is expected to grow.

The plume of smoke coming from this Pioneer Fire is huge, and fire crews say the amount of smoke in the area is concerning.

Many who have homes and cabins near the area are worried.

Pat and Dan Marler drove all the way up from Boise to attend a community meeting Wednesday night.

"It's scary. We've had this cabin in the family for years and years. We inherited it from my folks, and we'd like to keep it for our kids."

Fire crews say the fire is still about 3.5 miles from the town of Lowman, but it has been incredibly challenging to fight.

Officials say the weather has been shifting, and the fire is not following the typical pattern of Central Idaho fires.

But it is more than weather that is concerning fire crews.

Fire P.I.O. Norm Rooker says, with so much history in area, especially with mines, they have to keep a historian on hand to guide them away from any potential danger.

"Where the mines are, sometimes there are still buried caches of dynamite that are 80-90 years old, and that fire could set it off. And that's a handy piece of information our firefighters would like to know when they are operating in an area."

With the safety of the fire crews being the top priority, officials say the best way the community can help them battle this fire is with defensible space.

"Give us a chance to defend, said Norm Rooker. “Give us something to work with so we're not having to invest a lot of time to save one structure."

The Marler family says they have done their part to maintain defensible space around their cabin, and they are thankful for the fire crews working to keep everyone safe: “We are so grateful for them, and we know they are doing the very best they can."

Fire crews say they are still concerned about 10 structures. They have evacuated 35 people from the area.

While four buildings have been destroyed, no homes have burned, and they hope it stays that way.