Residents in rural north-central Idaho have been told to be ready to evacuate due to a two-square-mile wildfire burning in timber in steep terrain about 40 miles east of McCall. What’s known as the Missouri Fire is located between Yellow Pine and Edwardsburg.
Authorities say the wildfire on Friday is expected to grow due to steep terrain, heavy fuels and danger to firefighters, in an area with dead trees that might fall on them.
About 300 personnel are assigned to the lightning-caused blaze that started July 15.
The eastern edge of the fire is burning in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness -- and officials say the wildfire there will be allowed to play its natural role.
Specifically, a “Level 1” evacuation order -– known as a “Ready evacuation order” -- has been issued for the Edwardsburg/Big Creek area by Valley County Sheriff Patti Bolen.
The order states: “Persons are warned that current or projected threats from hazards associated with an incident are severe. This is the time for preparation, precautionary movement of persons with special needs, mobile property, and (under certain circumstances) pets and livestock. If conditions change every attempt will be made to notify residents and businesses.”
Valley County has three levels of evacuation. “Level 1 - Ready”, “Level 2 - Set”, and Level 3 - GO!”
Should a Level 2 evacuation follow, it would mean that residents should be set to evacuate the area at any time, officials said.
A Level 3 evacuation is a mandatory evacuation ordered by the Sheriff.
“Knowing what to expect during an evacuation can be stressful,” said Bolen. “A Level 1 - Ready evacuation provides time for residents to consider what they would take, where they would go, and how they would leave in a safe manner. One of the best ways to be ready is stay informed on the fire’s location and activity, as well as the changing weather conditions.”
According to Payette National Forest fire managers, and the Incident Management Team that is managing the Missouri Fire, the Edwardsburg/Big Creek community is not in immediate danger; however, the Warren-Profile Gap Road between Yellow Pine and Edwardsburg is closed, and the road from Warren to the South Fork is damaged due to winter and spring storms. Officials said large trucks and trailers are not advised for use on this section of the road.
A community meeting is scheduled for Friday at noon at the Big Creek Work Station to discuss the fire activity, road closures, and evacuation potential. Representatives from Valley County, the Incident Command Team, and local agencies will be there to provide information and answer questions.
Officials say the estimated containment date for the wildfire is Oct. 1.
(Associated Press contributed to this report)