BOISE COUNTY, Idaho — For weeks now, a logjam on the Payette River has been creating dangerous conditions for rafters and kayakers. But on Monday, crews took steps toward making those conditions safer.
Multiple agencies, including the Boise County Sheriff's Office, Garden Valley Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service, set the logjam on fire to burn off as much of it as possible.
“We’re hoping that we can get enough of the top debris off of it to identify what the major structures that are holding things up because until the high waters this year, this was just two logs there,” Jim Kaczmarek, Boise County Sheriff said.
Crews lined Mile Marker 4 of Banks-Lowman Road, as they torched a logjam on the Payette River.
“This is something that we need to deal with today and we need to deal with as fast as we can as the weather improves and it gets warmer,” Garden Valley Fire Chief Jon Delvalle said.
Crews have been working for three weeks to secure the necessary permits needed to burn the logjam.
“This is going to continue to be a hazard,” Kaczmarek said. “This is the first step in us dealing with it, and it’s a timing issue as well because the water has got to be high enough to carry any debris that we do get out of here down river and not create more hazards down river.”
Crews poured an accelerant onto the logs and debris, then ignited it.
“We had rescue kayakers and rafters set up upriver, we had throw bags and kayakers down river and then they utilized rafts and kayaks to get in there and get ropes into it and get people on it,” Kaczmarek said.
“Our problem with this particular incident was that we feel it is a life threat that we can’t deal with in a safe manner with our people,” Delvalle said. “We've had several incidents with boats in it already, in fact, there is a kayak in there now from a boater that came out of her boat and was able to fortunately swim over right and get away from it.”
It's still uncertain when this will be completely cleared, but crews expect the logjam to burn for the next few days, and then they say they'll probably bring in contractors with machinery to remove what's left.