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UPDATE: Fire Near Idaho City Blankets Valley in Unhealthy Smoke, Cancels School Athletic Events

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The Forest Service has closed the areas surrounding Grimes Creek. - U.S. FOREST SERVICE
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • The Forest Service has closed the areas surrounding Grimes Creek.
UPDATE: October 12, 2:30 p.m.

Because of the unhealthy air quality looming over the Treasure Valley from the Walker Fire—burning 8 miles from Idaho City in Grimes Creek—the Boise School District has cancelled all outdoor athletic events and practices for Oct. 12. 

According to real-time air quality monitoring by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, air quality has improved since this morning, but still remains at unhealthy levels. Boise's monitoring station rates air quality as "moderate" and Meridian's air quality as a mix between "good" and "unhealthy."

While Nampa's air quality was rated as "unhealthy" this morning, it is now "good."

UPDATE: Oct. 12, 11:38 a.m.

The Walker Fire, burning 8 miles southwest of Idaho City, isn't growing very quickly today and it's moving away from structures, according to an update from the Idaho Department of Lands.

The fire is still estimated to be around 2,500 acres, and it's moving onto U.S. Forest Service land. The southeast border of the fire is creeping slowly toward Highway 21, but the highway is still open.

No more evacuations have been announced, though residents in Macks Creek, Wolf Creek and Pine Creek are still under evacuation order. Three of the four structures burned by the fire were determined to be cabins, and the owners are being notified.

There are 13 engines on the site with three more on the way, along with six hand crews and three dozers, one heavy air tanker, two single-engine air tankers, four helicopters and two air attacks fighting the fire today.

ORIGINAL POST: Oct. 12, 8:32 a.m.

Air quality in the Treasure Valley ranges from "moderate" to "very unhealthy" because of the Walker Fire near Idaho City. - IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
  • Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
  • Air quality in the Treasure Valley ranges from "moderate" to "very unhealthy" because of the Walker Fire near Idaho City.
The Treasure Valley woke up to a thick blanket of smoke Monday, drifting in from the Walker Fire burning near Idaho City. The Walker Fire had burned 2,500 acres as of October 11, triggering the Boise County Sheriff's Office to evacuate the Grimes Creek area. Four structures were lost, according to a news release from the Idaho Department of Lands.

By early Monday, air quality had reached dangerous levels according to real-time air monitoring by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Boise was already rated yellow, or "moderate" by sunrise, while Nampa received a red rating, or "unhealthy," and Meridian was given purple, or "very unhealthy." Only one color on the chart exists after purple, and that is maroon, or "hazardous." 

Despite being located directly next to the fire, Idaho City's air quality is considered green, or "good."

According to the IDOL news release, the complexity of the Walker Fire required high-level resources beyond the Idaho Department of Lands. A Type 2 Management Team had arrived on scene Sunday afternoon. Aerial assessments took place as well, mapping the fire perimeter. The U.S. Forest Service, along with the Clear Creek Fire Department, the Boise County's Sheriff's Office and the Bureau of Homeland Security are also helping to get the fire under control. 

Two helicopters are dropping water on the fire, assisting two hand crews, six engines, one dozer, two single-engine air tankers and two hotshot crews.

Grimes Creek Road from Highway 21 to Centerville is closed to all non-emergency traffic. Residents in Max Creek, Pine Creek and nearby areas are urged to stay on standby in case of erratic fire behavior. Deputies are prepared to go door-to-door if more evacuations are necessary and the sheriff's office will use an automated phone calling system.

The fire was reported around 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 near Grimes Creek. The Clear Creek Fire Department was able to contain the three-acre blaze until high winds picked up and caused the flames to spread. The fire is believed to be human-caused because there was no lightning in the area in the past few nights.