FEATHERVILLE, Idaho -- More than 1,400 firefighters continue to work on the 119,000 acre Trinity Ridge Fire burning on the Boise National Forest.
But, there's some good news for homeowners in Featherville, which was evacuated one week ago. It looks like crews have cutoff the fire's main path to the town.
On Wednesday, crews started burning a line on the northwest side of Featherville, a back burn. The idea was to cutoff the fire when it made a run to the town, letting it fizzle when it hit the already charred forest land. Early Saturday, that's exactly what happened.
Sealing up that gap is going to keep a big steam of fire from heading right at Featherville, which was our objective, said Traci Weaver with the Incident Management Team. We burned this on our terms, not on the fire's terms.
Weaver says crews have also been helped by years-old fire scars on the north, east, and west sides of the fire. She says, a few hundred extra firefighters, and fresh crews have helped too.
Early on, we just couldn't hardly buy a crew. There just weren't any available. There were so many other fires going on, said Weaver. So, we were able to get the resources we really need to get in there, and make some progress on this fire.
Cyndie Christensen, owner-operator of Cyndies' Featherville Cafe is one of the few people who chose not to evacuate from the town. She's almost ready to claim victory, at least, in the fight for the survival of Featherville.
We're pretty much safe at this point, said Christensen. Unless we get some errant ember that starts a tree on fire behind us, we're fine.
But fire managers can't guarantee that yet, and say, there's still a lot of work to be done.
Obviously, this fire is not contained yet, said Weaver. So, there's always that risk of it hooking around, or getting somewhere you don't want it to.
But, one of the other consequences of adding fire to fire, is the incredible amount of smoke that's now settled in Featherville. While people there say it normally lifts in the afternoon, the smoke was almost choking in the morning, and visibility was less than 100 feet.
You stay inside as much as you can, said Christensen. That's why I feel sorry for the firefighters, because they're out there, they're in it.
They don't get a chance to get out and get some fresh air, they have to stick it out, said Jake Brollier.
Brollier has been fighting wildfires in Idaho and around the country for 15 years. He says, this is one of the smokiest fires he's been on. Besides adding one more physical obstacle for firefighters, Brolliers says, the thick haze also creates a strategic obstacle to fighting the fire.
You have to get right up on it, and you have to send people out to scout it out to see what they got, said Brollier. Because, you can't just look up and say, 'We can see the ridge line. We can see the fire. So, we can start forming a plan.' You don't have that luxury in this.
A Boise National Forest Spokesperson says three members of the Bonneville Hotshots were injured today when a large log rolled down a steep embankment into the crew.
Two of the injured firefighters were transported to Boise for treatment.
One suffered a minor head injury, the other had injuries to the back, neck and shoulders.
The fire is just 5% contained, and structures are still threatened.
It started August 3rd when a utility terrain vehicle caught fire. The owner has been identified but names haven't been released.