UPDATE: July 15, 2014
Now up to 18 wildfires burn in the Boise National Forest near Garden Valley. KTVB reports this morning that there are four of particular concern to wildfire officials: the Wash Fire, the Grimes Fire, the Calder Fire and the Blue Jay Fire, which have burned almost 600 acres combined, and are growing. The fires are now being called the Whiskey Complex.
As of this morning, the fires were about 10 percent contained.
The Calder Fire was less than five acres July 14, but it was firefighters' primary concern because of its proximity to structures. Now, firefighters have shifted more attention to the Wash Fire, burning at 150 acres three miles east of Garden Valley, because it's burning close to homes along the South Fork of the Payette River. A voluntary evacuation notice went out to 60 homes on the evening of July 14. An evacuation center has been set up at Garden Valley High School.
A national Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered to help fight the fires—adding 54 firefighters from across the West later today. Tough terrain around the fires requires an experienced team.
As far as the other 14 fires go, Boise National Forest officials said they're not growing in size, and none are larger than six acres at this time. The Banks Lowman Road is open today, but smokey. Fire officials say the Garden Valley and Crouch communities are not currently threatened by any of these fires.
Elsewhere in Idaho, the Preacher Fire in the Twin Falls District grew 7,000 acres last night. It sparked yesterday afternoon from a lightning strike and is burning grass and brush 10 miles northeast of Richfield. Fire officials predict it will continue to grow today due to high gusts, hot temperatures and thunderstorms.
With 59 personnel working on the fire, Bureau of Land Management officials expect to have it contained by 8 p.m. on July 17.
ORIGINAL POST: July 14, 2014
Lightning strikes sparked 17 fires across the Boise National Forest last night, most of them near Crouch and Garden Valley. David Olson, public affairs officer for the Boise National Forest, said the storm followed the South Fork of the Payette River corridor.
"It's really interesting, I've never seen anything like it before," Olson said. "The storm just followed right along the river in a linear line."
He said the fires are being staffed with resources including Boise National Forest fire crews, engines, helicopters and smokejumpers. The largest fire is currently fewer than five acres, but another is starting to show more activity as the day warms up and the air dries out.
The Calder Fire—five miles east of Garden Valley—is causing the most concern because of its proximity to structures, according to Olson, but it's not showing increased activity at this time. Regardless, the Boise County Sheriff and Forest Service law enforcement officers are notifying residents along South Fork Payette River Road to prepare for possible evacuations.
"As is typical with lightning, some are near the road and some are remote and relatively inaccessible," Olson said.
Fire managers have ordered additional recourses to help with the blazes, including 15 engines, four hotshot crews, three helicopters and more smokejumpers.