PINE, Idaho -- How many homes, cabins and other structures have burned near Pine and Featherville? The short answer is: no one knows yet.
Firefighters are expected to remain in and around both communities on Wednesday to guard homes and other properties threatened by the 111,977-acre Elk Complex Fire.
More than 600 personnel are working to control the damaging wildfire, which grew over 10,000 acres Tuesday.
A mandatory evacuation remains in effect for the surrounding area, including Pine, and Featherville. Many area roads are closed, along with the surrounding Boise National Forest.
Bad news came for some residents of the area on Tuesday.
That's when Elmore County Sheriff's deputies reported approximately 53 structures had burned near the Fall Creek area on the western shore of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Other reports suggest 71 total structures in the greater area have burned, including some near the Twin Pine subdivison south of Pine. So far, nothing has burned within the town limits of Pine and Featherville, according to reports.
WHAT HAS BEEN DESTROYED?
So, what has been destroyed so far? That's a question that law enforcement officials aren't releasing until property owners can be notified.
The process won't be easy.
That's because firefighters and members of law enforcement say they had to cut through downed trees, power poles, and other debris to gain access and survey the hardest hit areas on Tuesday.
Brenda Sears owns a cabin near Fall Creek Road built by her grandfather over 60 years ago. She tells KTVB that burn notications have been too slow, and she's still not able to tell whether her cabin has been destroyed.
"The news knows more than I do," Sears said. "I'm frustrated because no one will contact me."
FIRE GROWS RAPIDLY
The Elk Complex fire started on August 8th after several smaller lightning-caused fires burned together. Fire information officer Jennifer Myslivy says most of the structure loss happened on Friday and Saturday.
"The fire has been making some pretty big pushes lately, growing between 5,000 to 7,000 acres per day for the last few days," Myslivy said.
One upside, the fire didn't grow as predicted Tuesday night, according to fire information officer David Eaker.
Eaker says firefighters will continue laying hose line, trimming vegetation, wetting roofs, and burning out small buffer zones between homes and trees to prevent the fire from spreading to more structures.
Numerous attack helicopters and air tankers are also expected to drop water and fire retardant to help stop the flames from spreading.
The Elk Complex Fire has now burned westward to the edge of the South Fork of the Boise River, which is preventing it from joining with the smaller, Pony Complex Fire. The combined acreage of both fires is well over 250,000 acres.
A community meeting for those affected by the Elk Complex Fire will be held at the Elk's Lodge in Mountain Home on Thursday, August 15 at 6 p.m. Representatives from the incident management team, the Elmore County Sheriff's Office, Idaho Power, and the American Red Cross will be in attendance.
The Elmore County Sheriffs Office has a hotline for residents of Fall Creek and Lester Creek to check on the status of their homes in the fire area. The number is (208) 653-2505 and will be staffed from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily.
View Elk Complex Fire in a larger map