Thick smoke forces Featherville residents to evacuate

Credit: Troy Colson/KTVB

Thick smoke forces Featherville residents to evacuate

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by KTVB & Associated Press

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 6:12 AM

BOISE -- Residents in Featherville were told to evacuate town due to thick smoke in the area.

The Elmore County Sheriff's Office issued that order Saturday afternoon because of smoky conditions brought on by the Trinity Ridge Fire, which is moving closer to the small Idaho community. All that smoke is creating health and safety concerns.

Deputies went door to door asking people to leave. They placed red ribbons on homes with no one home, and orange ribbons on doors with people who chose to stay but were warned of the risks.

Cyndie Christensen, the owner of Cyndie's Featherville Cafe, is staying to help feed the firefighters.

"We've had more (firefighters) today than we've had in the last few days. They're all positive, they're all positive that nothing is going to happen here. And why not stay and help them?" said Cyndie as she fought back the tears.

"If the fire doesn't come over the hill, I'll stay. If the fire comes over the hill, I ain't stupid, it ain't worth my life," said Pat Christensen.

The pizza place and bar next door to the cafe both packed up and left town.

One deputy says most people are choosing to leave. They say it will only help firefighters to do their job if the town clears out. They don't have to worry about people on the road and they can get to where they need to be safely.

Most of the people who had to leave Featherville said they were going back to their other homes in the city or that friends in Pine were taking them in.

The evacuation area is from Featherville to the Paradise area. Pine Featherville Road is now closed to all but fire and emergency traffic.

Fire spokesman David Eaker says fire managers are concerned that visibility of only 30 yards could hamper the evacuation process of some 350 residences.

He says residents who remain could be on their own if the fire arrives as predicted.

Eaker says the smoke on Saturday has also prevented retardant bombers from reaching the 130-square-mile fire and aerial reconnaissance flights from locating the fire's leading edge.

The Trinity Ridge fire has grown to 82,943 acres, with 1,082 working or assisting in fighting the fire.

Gary Lehnhausen, a fire information officer with the Trinity Ridge Fire, says crews are doing everything possible to protect the homes and buildings in Featherville.

Pine is the next town that has the attention of firefighters. Pine is about 10 miles from Featherville, so the fire still is a ways away from that town.

The Red Cross has set up an evacuation center at the Pine Senior Center where meals are being served. For people who need a place to stay, there are cots at the Pine Resort.

Firefighters still aren't sure when the fire could reach town. It really just depends on the weather and Sunday they say the conditions look like they will be in their favor.

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