Town of Atlanta prepares for wildfire

Credit: Paul Boehlke/ KTVB

Town of Atlanta prepares for wildfire

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 23 at 10:09 AM

BOISE -- The Little Queens Fire burning 3 miles northwest of Atlanta is now the number one fire in terms of priority in this part of the country.

Since Atlanta only has a volunteer fire department, they're relying on crews from the Treasure Valley to come up and do prep work to protect the town because structure protection is high priority in this fire.

"The situation here is probably the worst case scenario for us," said Atlanta resident Ric Holmes.

The 40 or so full-time residents in the rural town of Atlanta are no strangers to fires, but this one is different.

"This year is going to be interesting because that little area you see over there was the one thing we hoped and prayed would never happen," said Holmes. "There's so much fuel in there. It's not pretty."

The area where the Little Queens Fire is burning is just about the only area around Atlanta that hasn't burned in the last decade.

From town you can only see smoke, but residents know the flames are coming.

When Atlanta resident Ken Tabor was asked, "Do you think it's a reality that that fire is coming over that ridge?" 

His reply was, "I do, I do. It's very very possible. If you could see the other side and see the fuel that's in there, if the wind just shifts the wrong way it could come."

Knowing that, firefighters are taking a defensive position.

"We're prepping to protect Atlanta," said Joe Reinhardt Operation Section Chief for the Little Queens Fire.

Elmore County brought in five engines and 20 firefighters from the Treasure Valley to protect homes.

"Our best defense for structure defense is attack the fire when it gets here," said Reindhardt.

Despite a mandatory evacuation, there are still 10 to 15 people sticking around.

"Most of the people are not going to leave. Most of the people are going to stick it out," said Tabor.

With the fire around three miles away Reinhardt says if the flames come over the hill they'll be more adamant that people leave.

"The fewer people we have in here the better for my firefighters because they can concentrate on firefighting versus protecting lives," said Reindhardt.

"The professionals are here to do their job and we fill like if the fire is very possibly coming, but they're going to do everything they can to save what we've got here," said Atlanta resident Jerry Hardy.

The crews from the Treasure Valley will be here a minimum of  72 hours, but if the fire does come down, they may be here a little bit longer.

Because resources have been so spread out, crews have been forced to fight this 10,000-acre fire mainly by the air, but that will change now that three hot shot crews from Idaho are now on this fire.

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