Gov. Otter warns Pine residents to evacuate

Credit: Eric Turner/KTVB

Gov. Butch Otter is urging residents of Pine to get out before the wildfire reaches town.

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 13 at 7:17 PM

BOISE -- The fire situation in Southern Idaho is constantly changing and for that reason Gov. Butch Otter is receiving daily updates on the fight.

Otter knows firsthand what it's like to be asked to evacuate.  He has a home in Pine and like many homeowners who went through this last year, he too was asked to evacuate.

His advice for people who find themselves in that situation is to get out.

Pine isn't the only town under a mandatory evacuation. The Elmore County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for Featherville Tuesday evening.

In the last week, there have been several towns and areas where sheriff's deputies have gone door-to-door telling people to leave.

Even though the evacuation is mandatory, people don't actually have to leave if they choose not to.

"This is private property and Idaho is a strong state on private property and if we ask people to leave, we hope that they will see the community of interest in allowing those firefighters to fight the fire rather than evacuate them after it's too late," said Otter.

And that's part of the problem going on right now in Pine.

People see the flames but want to stay anyway for a variety of reasons. But the governor says don't stay.

"My advice to those people is get out. Don't put any more duty, any more responsibility or any more pressure on those first strike crews. Those crews know what a fire acts like and if they tell you to get out, please. Don't add any more problems," said Otter.

Safety is a firefighter's highest priority.

Otter echoes what firefighters have said in the past that these mandatory evacuations are not there without reason. They come when authorities feel lives could be lost.

"We just hope that people, and I sincerely hope that whoever is listening to this, if you're asked to evacuate, please do so, so you don't add any more of a burden on to these people who are out there trying to do the best job that they possibly can," said Otter.

While fighting the fires is a top priority right now, prevention is always top of mind for the governor.

And in light of prevention, the governor wants to see grazing allowed on the land, grazing he says would get rid of the cheat grass and other grasses that are easily ignited.

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