Record breaking temps fuel massive fire near Castleford

Credit: Zach Stotland

Record breaking temps fuel massive fire near Castleford

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by KTVB.COM

KTVB.COM

Posted on July 7, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 2:02 PM

Kinyon Road Fire

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CASTLEFORD, Idaho -- The Kinyon Road Fire in Twin Falls County is the number one fire in the nation right now, and that government officials base that dubious distinction on complexity, values at risk, and resources that have been committed.

Record breaking temperatures made it even harder for those of the fire lines today.

The sun is not only heating things up, it is also drying things out -- including plants.  It may not sound like a big deal, but it is making fighting the Kinyon Road Fire even harder.  As the plants dry out, the fire burns more intensely and spreads even faster.     

The wildfire has already burned around 190,000 acres.

The heat isn't the only problem, firefighters are also having to deal with the wind.  Earlier it pushed the fire within a half-mile of homes in Castleford.  The homes weren't damaged and right now the fire isn't close to any homes.

The Bureau of Land Management called in extra crews to help fight the Kinyon Road Fire, they arrived this afternoon.  

"As it is getting hotter and staying hotter, we are seeing more large fires around the region, and across the West there might be some draw down of resources, where it might be a little bit more difficult to have resources come to help us out," said Mallory Eils, Boise BLM.

The Boise and Twin Falls BLM districts have a close relationship and help each other on fires regularly.  When more help is needed regional coordinators arrange for more resources to be sent.

At this point, the BLM says the fire is estimated to be 40  percent contained.  But crews do not know how long it will take to fully contain the Kinyon Road Fire.

Firefighters originally hoped to contain the fire by 7 p.m. Sunday, but had to extend that deadline due to high winds and lightning from an afternoon thunderstorm. The fire is thought to have been caused by lightning Saturday afternoon.

One firefighter was reportedly injured while fighting the fire on Saturday.  That firefighter was treated for a heat-related illness at a local hospital, and is expected to return to his crew.

DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO A SMALL TOWN

Officials say the fire quickly charred vast amounts of BLM land on Saturday, and at one point burned within a half-mile of the community of Roseworth, Idaho. BLM spokesperson Kyli Gough says that's when BLM structure protection engines were sent to support that area, but were called-off when the wind switched and moved the fire north of that community.

"We're fortunate that this fire is really out in the middle of nowhere," Gough said, adding that much of the area burned has been flat grasslands and sage brush in one of the state's lowest populated areas.

Gough said crews also conducted a "back burn" along Kinyon Road on Saturday, extending their fire line to the already-blackened soil of the Balanced Road Fire, which burned earlier this year. Gough said that operation kept the fire from moving any further north along Kinyon Road.

Flames scorch along Kinyon Road near Castleford

NO SIGN OF STOPPING

BLM firefighters are expected to fight the fire around the clock, but with winds working against them, they say portions of the fire could remain very active.

More than 200 firefighters and other personnel, 23 fire engines, four bulldozers, six water tenders, and two hand crews are attacking the fire on the ground.

Air support includes two heavy engine air tankers, three helicopters, one lead plane, two air attack planes, and four single engine air tankers.

On Sunday, a temporary flight restriction due to thunderstorm activity halted some of the air support.

BLM air support

MORE HELP COMING

Gough says a Type II firefighting team will be on site Monday afternoon to handle major fire operations. That team is expected to keep much of the personnel and resources already fighting the fire, but will take over many of the critical firefighting decisions. Gough says there could be up to 275 total personnel on the fire after that team arrives.

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