BOISE -- More than a dozen Treasure Valley firefighters were among the hundreds called to help extinguish a destructive wildfire that burned more than 1,000 acres and destroyed 66 homes in Pocatello, Idaho last week.
KTVBfound that firefighters from Boise, Nampa, Meridian, Kuna and Twin Falls pitched-in to battle the Charlotte Fire in Pocatello, which started Thursday, July 27th. Seven Boise firefighters and two wildland fire fighting engines were sent to Pocatello early Saturday.
Battalion Chief J.D. Ellis spoke to KTVB by phone from the scene of the fire on Sunday.
He described the nightmare conditions created by the flames, saying it s always sad to come into an area that looks like a war zone, with so many homes that have been devastated.
His crew was met with acres of blackened land along with the charred skeletons of burnt homes.
However, Ellis said the crew is trying to take away some perspective in this. The fire fuels and geography found in southeast Idaho look much different than the fuels found in the Treasure Valley.
According to Ellis, it s been an eye opener for the crew as they learn about the successes and challenges firefighters have had with the Charlotte Fire.
It's been kind of interesting to see and a learning experience to evaluate the structures and see which ones survived and which ones didn't survive and try to identify factors between the two, he said.
The Charlotte Fire grew fast when it started Thursday and so the call for help was made, spanning across Idaho county lines.
Boise Battalion Chief Aaron Hummel remained stationed at home in Boise. The fire danger here remains high, so enough resources need to stay to help with any emergencies that could emerge.
In this case, we need to make sure that we aren't putting our local community at risk by sending resources, said Hummel. So will use off-duty personnel and we will use vehicles that aren't staffed typically.
A number of years ago, the Idaho Fire Chief s Association came together to discuss ways to help each other out in a pinch. They came up with a mutual aid agreement to share resources statewide.
They have this agreement that they can call upon other agencies around the state to help them out and send a couple resources from each community, said Hummel.
The mutual agreement is a good thing, especially when Boise firefighters look back at the 2008 southeast Boise fire, known as the Oregon Trail Fire.
Likewise, we get help from other folks, said Hummel. It was just a few years ago we had the southeast Boise incident in the Oregon Trail neighborhood that completely destroyed or damaged 26 homes and in that incident we had agencies from all over the valley here.
The Boise firefighters working in Pocatello are stationed at the southern end of the fire. They are protecting the homes still left standing.
We have done some real active steps here in the Boise area with some of our partners with BLM and doing some urban interface mitigation measures, said Hummel.
Boise firefighters cleared remaining fuels free from Pocatello homes that survived the Charlotte fire, just to ensure they are more protected next time.
We all jumped at the chance, Ellis said. That is one of the great things about firefighters, one of those things that seem to be so prevalent. You know, we would just go anywhere to do what we love and we love helping people.
The Boise fire crew will be back home Monday, because it s all hands on deck for the Fourth of July.