Monday, August 27, 2012

Yankee Fork Rehabilitation Project receives national attention




Anne Castle (right), Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science, talks with
 Kim Trotter of Trout Unlimited about the Yankee Fork project to restore salmon habitat.
Todd Adams photo

BY TODD ADAMS
"The Challis Messenger"
(From the August 23, 2012 edition)

Anne Castle was scheduled to tour the Yankee Fork salmon restoration project last week, but the Halstead Fire exploded, resulting in closure of the road, an evacuation notice for residents and a change in plans for the U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science.

So, organizers from Trout Unlimited and project partners from a variety of state and federal agencies went to Plan C, which had Castle touring the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery in the morning and meeting with partners over an August 16 barbecue of fresh Alaskan sockeye salmon.

The event took place under sunny, smoke-free skies at Sunny Gulch Campground near Redfish Lake. A bit of smoke from the Trinity Ridge Fire was visible in the southern part of Sawtooth Valley, but the site was, at least temporarily, upwind from the Halstead Fire.

The Yankee Fork project fits into the Obama administration's America's Great Outdoors initiative, Castle said. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has designated two projects in each state, one of which, like the Yankee Fork, is a river restoration project.

The local project is a great example of restoration, reconnection and partnerships, said Castle. The administration is spotlighting it so other communities and states can look at what happens on the Yankee Fork and maybe put a similar project together. "And so we're trying to build support in the local community for the project but also as an example of what can be done."

Rivers are important because "they're the thread that connects us to the land," Castle said. In the past, rivers have been damaged as society has turned its back on them, building cities along their banks and damaging them in other ways.

River restorations not only help fish, Castle said, but they can boost local economies via project design and construction dollars flowing in plus recreation spending from anglers, hunting and wildlife viewers.

Nationwide, licenses, access fees and other recreation fees amount to $145 billion per year, she said.

The administration's signature program is about community supported or bottom-up conservation projects to restore natural processes, not top down projects imposed from above, Castle said. Key partners include Trout Unlimited (TU), which is acting as a facilitator or motivator and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, which have been involved in Yankee Fork projects since their inception 25 years ago.

None of this would work without willing landowners, such as the J.R. Simplot Company, said Castle. "I want to congratulate all of you," Castle told representatives from the tribes, TU, local, state and federal agency representatives, for coming together to make the project possible. "Look what's happening in the Yankee Fork. This is exciting."

She also thanked Custer County for its support. Local officials were otherwise engaged dealing with the Halstead Fire.

Trout Unlimited sat down with Simplot company representatives October 6, 2011 to get the latest project figured out, said Kim Trotter of TU. Since then partnerships have grown stronger to get the project going.
Jerry Myers of TU has been a key figure in bringing partners and the project together. The main funding is from the Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) fish and wildlife conservation program, established to mitigate fish losses from the agency's hydroelectric power dams.

"As an old fart who's loved fish all his life, I'm glad to be here," Myers said.

Unfortunately a lot of Yankee Fork and other Custer County locals couldn't make it due to the fire. Myers, the "barbecue man" cooking the Alaskan sockeye salmon said he hopes to be eating something else - local Chinook salmon - the next time the project partners get together.

The Yankee Fork has a lot of value for juvenile salmon rearing, said Mike Edmondson of the Governor's Office of Species Conservation.

The project should be thought of as rehabilitation, not restoration of the Yankee Fork back to pre-mining condition, said Terrill Stevenson, who worked on the tributary assessment for the Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec). The dredge section has the most potential for salmon habitat improvements.

Project plans include keeping the area's rich mining history alive for locals and highly visible for visitors, including the Yankee Fork gold dredge and tailings piles.

In a time when money and resources are tight, passion and partnerships "will help us prevail," on such projects said Lorri Lee, BuRec's regional director. The Yankee Fork groundbreaking is only the first step, she said.

The project is important to the traditions and cultural practices of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, said Chad Colter, the tribes' fish and wildlife director. Salmon fishing is important; a key part of the tribes' heritage and so is habitat restoration that will bring more fish back to the Yankee Fork.

The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have $61 million from the fish accords signed with BPA, and plan to spend the majority on habitat restoration projects in the Salmon River drainage. "It's important to bring back the fish to pass on to the next generation," Colter said.

"I learned a lot time ago that working together, we can accomplish things we can't accomplish alone," said Bart Gamett, fish biologist with the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Construction was scheduled to start this month on the multi-agency project that will reconfigure some of the old fishponds on the dredge section of the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River into a side channel to benefit juvenile Chinook salmon. It's expected to be completed by the time the snow flies and be ready for juvenile salmon next year, but plans may be delayed due to fire threatening the area, ongoing closures and evacuation notices.

Speakers expressed optimism that work would begin on schedule.

The plan is to recreate side channels and restore stream flow through about a mile of J.R. Simplot company land where the Yankee Fork Dredge left a series of fishponds. The project is located below Bonanza and the Yankee Fork Dredge on land between Cearley Creek and Jerry's Creek.

The initial project would reconnect a 1,500-foot-long section of fishing ponds back to the main channel year-round, at both high and low flows. The Sho-Ban tribes were instrumental in constructing the ponds among the gold dredge tailings in the 1980s and connecting them to each other and the main channel.

Now, more than 30 years later, they are no longer connected to the river, at least on the upper end, due to beaver dams and erosion.
Flowing side channels are better habitat for fish than the ponds that now exist, because stream flow means more oxygen and flowing channels have a variety of habitat including pools for fish to rest and feed in. 
------
We are grateful that "The Challis Messenger" shared the photo and excellent story by Todd Adams with us. (THANKS, Anna!)  Due to circumstances, we were unable to attend the August 16 event.  "The Challis Messenger" is the GOTO news source for Challis and Custer County.  You can subscribe to their fine weekly newspaper online to keep up with "All Things Challis & Custer."
  Click here to visit the newspaper's website.

SNRA at 40


Almost lost in the smoke and haze of last week's Halstead Fire, a small event took place marking much bigger event that took place 40 years ago on August 22nd when President Richard M. Nixon signed legislation to create a crown jewel of The Gem State--The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA).

The few members of the public who attended the simple ceremony were easily outnumbered by Forest Service employees Wednesday morning at the Stanley Ranger Station. Two cakes were cut and Smokey Bear greeted Staff and visitors.  There were no speeches but happy smiles were in abundance. Over the past 40 years, the SNRA has logged millions of "likes," "shares" and "Friends" long before Facebook came along.  Even though the Wednesday event was lightly attended, those folks milling around the ranger Station lobby shared a kindred spirit with the untold legions of SNRA friends around America and The World.

It is hard to imagine Idaho without the SNRA sitting astride the heart of the state.  It's even more difficult to imagine the multi-year battle fought to finally bring legislation out of the US House and Senate that was finally delivered to the White House on August 14th.  Despite his busy schedule that day, President Nixon affixed his signature to H.R. 6957 and it was enacted as law PL92-400 on August 22, 1972.  As the late and legendary Senator Frank Church said afterwards, "It has been a long fight."

Each time we visit the SNRA, we feel a deepening sense of awe and gratitude for those men and women who fought the good fight and won back in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  No matter how many times we read those historic words written atop the SNRA's enabled legislation, we give thanks for those who cared enough to make a genuine positive difference in the land we love.
(Editor's Note added @ 10:30 am 8/28/12)  The past 24 hours have been a very interesting roller coaster ride.  When we first wrote the above article, we described President Nixon signing the legislation into law.  Then we began a search to find a photo of him signing the legislation. We contacted The Nixon Library.  Jon Fletcher, MLIS, AV Archivist at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in Yorba Linda, California, sent us President Nixon's complete minute-by-minute calendar for the entire day of August 22, 1972.  You can click here to see a copy housed in our Google Docs.  After reading and re-reading Nixon's August 22nd calendar we could find no reference to his signing the legislation.  To be safe, we read the entire 139-page calendar for the entire month of August 1972.  There was no hint of his signing the SNRA into law.

That's when we deleted our reference to the signed and said here: "President Nixon definitely didn't conduct a bill signing.  He was preparing to leave that day for the Republican National Convention in Miami."  We actually spent several hours on the topic yesterday.  We came to a firm and unshakable conclusion that Nixon did not sign the legislation--it became law 10 days after being delivered to the White House and was therefore enacted without his signature.

WRONG AGAIN!  For one last "fact check" we sent off an email to the research staff at the Congressional Record, perhaps the most authoritative record of the "doings" on Congress for about the past 200 years.
Lo and behold, we received an email reply this morning proving conclusively that President Nixon did indeed sign the legislation into law on August 22, 1972.  The fact that he signed it as printed in the Congressional record constitutes an undeniable and irrefutable historical documentation of his signing.

Sorry for the confusion--this is how we learn.

Here is the text of the email we rec'd this morning:


According to the Congressional Record, vol. 118, page 29653 under Messages from the President, "H. R. 6957. An act to establish the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in the State of Idaho, to temporarily withdraw certain national forest land in the State of Idaho from the operation of the U. S. mining laws, and for other purposes;" was signed by the President on August 22, 1972.
Two pages are attached from the Congressional Record, vol. 118.  Page 28311 (August 15, 1972) has H. R. 6957 two times - under the heading Enrolled Bills Signed and Bills Presented to the President.  Page 29653 (September 7, 1972) has H. R. 6957 once under the heading Messages from the President.
So, according to the Congressional Record, you have been celebrating the correct date, August 22nd.

You can click on either or both of the links above to view the documents that are now housed on our Google Docs.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Salmon Whitewater Park gains momentum

Salmon Whitewater Park site plan showing water features above and below US Hwy 93 bridge.


The Salmon Whitewater Park (SWP) planning process continues to move forward. On August 7th, the Steele-Reese Foundation awarded $15,000 to help prepare Final Engineering Plans for a whitewater park in downtown Salmon, Idaho.

Meanwhile, four members of the Salmon Whitewater Park Association (SWPA) met with reps from the City of Salmon and the Lemhi County Economic Development Association last week to work on details of a Development Agreement regarding the whitewater park.

Breann Westfall, SWPA spokeswoman, reports the meeting was very productive. "We made a lot of headway, she said, "and we will be meeting with the City again this week to iron out a few things out that came up in last week's meeting."

"We're getting much closer to a draft agreement that can be brought before the City Council for consideration," Westfall noted, adding. "The most important thing the City is concerned with is that it won't  cost any City money." Westfall said the agreement will be for Phase I - only consisting of Permitting and Final Engineering Plans. Salmon City Council consideration of the agreement may take place early next month.

The Steele-Reese Foundation was created in 1955 by Eleanor Steele Reese (1893-1977) whose roots in Lemhi County date back to 1941 when she moved with husband Emmet to a small working ranch near Shoup. This is the second Steele-Reece grant received on behalf of Salmon Whitewater Park planning.

This year's $15,000 Steele-Reese grant brings cumulative Salmon Whitewater Park funding to more than $58,000 since 2005 when the Salmon Rotary Club provided $500 seed money and the Hemmert Foundation added $5000 to create a Conceptual Design for whitewater park in Salmon.

In 2010, a $10,000 City of Salmon Local Option Tax grant helped jump start preliminary engineering design work and a bathymetric river survey. Several grants and fundraisers received in 2011 helped gain momentum for the Salmon Whitewater Park. Last year's inaugural Riverfest raised $2500, $600 of which helped prepare a Request for Proposal for final engineer plans. A $10,000 Steele-Reese grant funded a biological assessment and the permit application process. Formation Capital showed it support for the whitewater park with $10,000 to conduct a biological study of the river reach where the park will be located.

Late last year, a private fundraiser by the SWPA raised $2,500 to begin work on the Final Engineering Plans, estimated to cost $40,000. So far this year, $2,500 from the Idaho Wild River License Plate fund has been awarded in addition to this month's second Steele-Reece grant.  The 2012 Riverfest raised $2000 and a recent Arctic adventure lecture added another $150.  SWPA members are optimistic the second half of funding needed for the Final Engineering Plans can be secured soon. Overall cost to get the whitewater park up and running is estimated between $300,000-$400,000.

According to SWPA spokeswoman Breann Westfall, The Salmon Whitewater Park will have three wave features ranging in size from intermediate to an advanced feature. Westfall said none of the wave features span the entire river and all ensure safe passage for river users and fish. The preliminary design of the park shown above can be seen at the City of Salmon office; Saveway and the Odd Fellows' Bakery on Main Street. "Initially, we will develop the waves and ensure Island Park safety features are in place," Westfall said. Long term phases of the project before could include historical displays, natural resource education, and improved Island Park facilities.

Since Durango, Colorado developed the nation's first whitewater park back on the Animas River about 30 years ago, interest in the concept has surged in all parts of America with over 30 such parks now in operation. Two Idaho whitewater parks opened this year in Boise and on the North Fork of the Payette River near Cascade. Both proved immediately popular and continue to draw heavy usage through the 2012 summer boating season.

The Salmon Whitewater Park Association (SWPA) is an independent group, resgistered as a Idaho non-profit association. SWPA is fically sponsored by The Lemhi County Economic Development Association to facilitate grant applications and awards. SWPA members include: Breann Westfall, hydrologist and SWPA Project Manager; Craig McCallum, Oddfellows Bakery; Amy & Seth Tonsmeire, Wilderness River Outfitters; Russ Chinske, Salmon School District; Mark Troy, Idaho Adventures; Chase Slavin, Lemhi Title; and Preston Rufe, Formation Capital.

"The Salmon Whitewater Park will compliment the Salmon River and its natural function while promoting the long-term economic sustainability of Salmon," Ms. Westfall explained, adding "SWPA is committed to protecting all facets of both the river’s natural resources and Island Park's natural features while meeting all requirements of the multi-agency permitting process."

We welcome volunteers who want to get involved in the Salmon Whitewater Park," Ms. Westfall said, "and we encourage community input." SWPA volunteers are available to give presentations for Salmon and Lemhi County organizations.

More information can be found at the SWPA's website: http://www.salmonwhitewaterpark.com/
The website has an excellent FAQ about the project located here:
http://www.salmonwhitewaterpark.com/faq/

Our next article will discuss the Salmon Whitewater Park in more detail and describe other whitewater
parks and the economic impacts on their communities.



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Halstead Fire interaction with Salmon Country

(Update 5/16/13)  Our readers are amazing!  As of today, this article has had 9,111 pageviews, an increase of almost 2,000 pageviews since we stopped updating the article well over six months ago.  That's Awesome.  Thank You for reading!)

(Update @ 11 am 9/26/12)  Just one day shy of the two month anniversary of the lightning start of the Halstead Fire, Fire Info stated that this morning's update will be last one.  Likewise, this will be our last update here on the long-running Halstead Fire article.  As of this 10:45 am morning, this article has had 7,180 pageviews since August 9th.  Thank You for reading our coverage of the fire.  We will be doing a separate "wrap-up" article on the Halstead Fire and will post a note and link here when it is done.

As of this morning burned acreage continues to be listed at 179,305 acres.  We probably won't know the actual final number until well after snowfall snuffs out the fire once and for all.

Currently, there are 66 personnel - 1 hand crew, 5 engines, and 3 helicopters on the fire resources roster.

Here is the full text of InciWeb's final update:

"This will be the Final Daily Update. If significant activity occurs, additional updates will be distributed through the Challis/Yankee Fork Ranger District and posted to the website. Maps posted on inciweb.org dated 9/23/12 are the most recent maps showing fire progression and perimeter.

Fire behavior within the Halstead fire has moderated significantly and the fire has largely held in place for several days. Most areas of the fire perimeter outside the wilderness where firefighters were working and engaged in suppression have been contained. Ground and air resources are monitoring the remaining uncontained areas of the fire perimeter. 

The vast majority of these areas are located adjacent to previous fire areas or natural rock barriers. Previously burned areas and rock barriers can act as a fire break, making the further spread of the fire into or past these areas less likely.

Large pockets of unburned vegetation remain within the fire perimeter, with hot areas scattered throughout which are capable of burning actively. It is anticipated these remaining uncontained areas will continue to burn until significant precipitation is received. Helicopters will be utilized to cool hot spots when needed. Travelers or residents may see smoke which will likely be from interior pockets of burning fuels that do not pose a threat to containment lines
.
The Salmon-Challis National Forest will be reviewing the fire closures daily. When areas are considered safe for public use, closures will be lifted. For more information on closures call the numbers listed above or visit inciweb.org.

Businesses impacted by wildfires may contact the SBA (Small Business Administration) to apply for Economic Injury Disaster loans at: www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, or call 800-659-2955.

What happened 9/25: Fire suppression repair work was completed in Rankin Creek, Virginia Subdivision, Bonanza and Rough Canyon Creek cabin. The headwaters of China Creek showed minimal fire activity. Stringers of trees, bounded by rocky areas, was the only activity observed in upper Jordan Creek. Mtn. King Mine area showed little activity after a heavy helicopter made several water drops. The helicopter also made drops in the Bear Valley Creek area, snuffing out fire activity.

The Plan for 9/26: The handcrew will finish repair work on the Seafoam road and Coal Creek off Hwy 75. Fire personnel will continue backhauling supplies and equipment from the Loon Creek and Seafoam areas. The remainder of the fire will be patrolled and monitored for fire activity which might compromise containment lines.

Fire Weather: Temperatures will remain about the same, highs in the upper 50's with relative humidities around 55%. Winds will be light from the north. A warming trend will develop later in the week, strengthening towards the weekend.

Closures: Bear Valley Creek Trail 012 is closed on the north side of the Fir Creek Campground bridge, closing access to the Bear Valley Creek hot springs and the location known as Big Hole. Access to Blue Bunch Mtn. via trail is still open. The Loon Creek Rd., Forest Rd. 172, remains closed from 9 am to 9 pm from the Hecla Mine through to the Loon Creek Guard Station to allow for safe firefighting operations. The Nip & Tuck Rd. (Forest Rd. 033) is open for non-motorized traffic only. All spur roads leading to the north of the main road are still closed."
---end of final regular update @ 11 am---
(Update @ 9:30 am 9/25/12) The predicted rain largely bypassed the Halstead Fire Monday.  A trace of three one-hundredths of an inch was recorded on the fire.

Fire personnel continues to shrink.  The roster is now listed at 67, down from 85 yesterday.  There are  1 hand crew, 5 engines, and 3 helicopters working the fire.  The burned area is once again listed as 179,305 acres.  That's because there hasn't been an overnight infrared data gathering flight.  If and when another such flight takes place, the acreage will almost certainly jump up several thousand acres.

Here is the full text of the Tuesday morning InciWeb update:


"After making a short uphill run, the fire continued backing down the ridge separating Bear Valley Creek from Marsh Creek, actually creating its own firebreak. Loon Creek Summit and Jordan Creek headwaters were considerably more active, putting up a fair smoke column. Other than these two areas, the remainder of the fire had minimal activity due to favorable weather conditions.

What happened yesterday: Engine crews continued with the work of patrolling miles of fireline, mopping up problem areas along the line and monitoring any fire movement. There was active fire to the east of the Mountain King Mine, north of Seafoam, which was being closely monitored by firefighters. The area below the mine, hit hard by the Type 1 helicopter with bucket drops on Sunday, was showing little activity. The Lola Creek area showed no activity. The handcrew completed suppression repair work in Rankin Creek. Little if any precipitation fell on the fire area Monday, not enough to have an overall beneficial effect on the entire fire.
The Plan for Today: Loon Creek Summit/Jordan Creek fire activity is being monitored for additional activity which might necessitate action by firefighters. If needed, suppression equipment is still in place in the area. Seafoam area will have an engine monitoring any activity along the road and in locations where the fire was recently active. They will also complete a road check from Vanity Summit to the Cape Horn Rd. Fire growth and activity in the Bear Valley Creek and Marsh Creek confluence is being monitored by air. Firefighters will check any fire activity which warrants action. The handcrew will be in the Bonanza area working on a variety of suppression repair projects which includes repair of mechanical (dozer) and hand lines, removing wrap and staples from structures. An Area Closure around the fire area is in effect for public safety and to ensure unimpeded access for firefighters.
Fire Weather: Temperatures will remain about the same for Tuesday, highs in the upper 50's with relative humidities around 55%. Winds will be light from the north. A warming trend will develop mid-week, strengthening towards the weekend. Recorded precipitation amounts for the fire on Monday was .03 inches.
Closures: Bear Valley Creek Trail 012 is closed on the north side of the Fir Creek Campground bridge, closing access to the Bear Valley Creek hot springs and the location known as Big Hole. Access to Blue Bunch Mtn. via trail is still open. The Loon Creek Rd., Forest Rd. 172, remains closed from 9 am to 9 pm from the Hecla Mine through to the Loon Creek Guard Station to allow for safe firefighting operations. The Nip & Tuck Rd. (Forest Rd. 033) is open for non-motorized traffic only. All spur roads leading to the north of the main road are still closed."
---end of 9:30 am update---


(Update @ 9:15 am 9/24/12) The Halstead burned area is listed as 179, 308 acres.  There are 85 personnel - 1 hand crew, 5 engines, and 2 helicopters on the fire roster. Cumulative fire fighting cost as of yesterday was $25,730,000.

Here is the text of the Monday morning InciWeb update:

"Fire continued backing down the ridge that separates Bear Valley Creek from Marsh Creek causing a closure of the Bear Valley Creek Trail as it travels downstream to Marsh Creek at the confluence of the Middle Fork Salmon River. Closure notices are posted at the Fir Creek Campground bridge, Cape Horn Summit road trailhead and at the Lola Creek/Cape Horn road intersection. The Type 1 helicopter assisted with several water bucket drops at the Mtn. King Mine as the fire was very active in that area even with the wet afternoon weather.

What happened yesterday: Fire suppression repair work in Rankin Creek, in the Yankee Fork drainage, continued with the use of a handcrew. Most of the length of the Pinyon Peak road was checked by another handcrew who cleared fire debris from culverts and worked on making the roadway safe for travel. Marsh and Bear Valley Creeks' fire activity was checked throughout the day to assess fire movement towards the confluence location. The remainder of the fire area was in monitor status due to moderated fire activity as a result of measureable precipitation which occurred during the afternoon and evening.

The Plan for Today: Several engines and the remaining handcrew will continue fire suppression repair work in the Rankin Creek location. Loon Creek Summit/Jordan Creek fire activity is being monitored by three engine crews. Seafoam area will have an engine monitoring any activity along the road and in locations where the fire was recently active. Management Action Points will be developed for the Bear Valley Creek/Marsh Creek confluence area, which will be closely monitored.

Fire Weather: Monday will have periods of continuous light to moderate rain throughout the Sawtooth Valley, moderating fire behavior. Temperatures will be in the 50's during the day. A slight warming trend will begin on Wednesday on through next weekend.

Closures: Bear Valley Creek Trail 012 is closed on the north side of the Fir Creek Campground bridge, closing access to the Bear Valley Creek hot springs and the location known as Big Hole. Access to Blue Bunch Mtn. via trail is still open. The Loon Creek Rd., Forest Rd. 172, remains closed from 9 am to 9 pm from the Hecla Mine thru to the Loon Creek Guard Station to allow for safe firefighting operations. The Nip & Tuck Rd. (Forest Rd. 033) is open for non-motorized traffic only. All spur roads leading to the north of the main road are still closed."


(Update @ 7:15 am 9/24/12--Edited @ 8:30 am) Sunday rainfall failed to materialize in the quantity everyone hoped for.  Precipitation measured at Stanley was .06-.08 inches.  That's about one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch, certainly nothing to write home about.  (Editor's Note: The following information was rec'd from Fire Info at 8:30 am)  "There were amounts varying from 8 to 16 hundredths recorded over the fire."

The NWS is prognosticating perhaps a tenth of an inch today and maybe as much as .18.  Tomorrow might add another five one-hundreths of an inch. The Pocatello NWS said this morning, "SHOWERS CAN BE EXPECTED (Monday) MOST PLACES WITH WETTING RAINS POSSIBLE BY DAYS END ESPECIALLY OVER HIGHER ELEVATIONS."

While none of the predicted precipitation amounts are "show-stoppers" as far as the Halstead Fire goes, the calm, high-humidity conditions each day are going to allow fire crews to address some of their problem areas.  We would guess the total containment percentage will be higher by mid-week as a result of the favorable working conditions between Sunday-Tuesday.

As long-time readers of the Halstead's InciWeb site know, from the very first day the NIMO Team took command of fire management on August 2nd, they predicted the fire would be totally contained at midnight October 16th.  That date is now less than 3 weeks away.  Interestingly, this morning's Missoula NWS Forecast Discussion had this to say, "Although forecast models continue to show some differences for
next weekend and beyond, the overall trend is towards a much colder and perhaps, eventually, a wetter pattern. It would be wise for those with projects requiring warm, dry weather to plan on completing those before the close of next weekend. Mounting global evidence would suggest that our first taste of Fall could be at hand during the first week of October."  

While we are discussing weather here, Stanley set a new climate record this morning.  No, it's not for being the coldest place in the Lower 48, as is usually the case.  Far from it.  Today, Stanley's "high" low temperature was the warmest ever logged since data has been recorded.  This morning's low temperature was 42 degrees, registered sometime between 5-6 am.  The 7 am temperature was reported as 44 degrees so the morning low was definitely 42.  Meanwhile, the previous "high" low temperature was 37 degrees logged in 2005.  That means this morning's temperature was fully five degrees warmer than the previous record.  Just for the record, the average low for September 24th is 24 and the record low for this date is 13 set in 1996.

Also, just for the record, the average precipitation for September 23rd is 0.011 inches and for today 0.024 inches.  The record rainfall for September 23rd was .31 in 1963 and for today .42 in 1977.  September is generally a dry month with little significant precipitation.

Fire Info has generally been updating the InciWeb site around 8:30 so that's when to expect our next update here.
---end of 7:15 am update---
Sunday morning looks like a glorious day in Stanley, Idaho!
 The 8:40 am photo is courtesy of the Sawtooth Camera. 
(Update @ 9 am 9/23/12)  The Sunday morning InciWeb site report notes, "Another warm day (Saturday) produced active fire behavior with torching and weather influenced crown runs."

The fire's burned area continues to be listed as 179,055 this morning.  The figure is unchanged from yesterday and that's almost certainly because of the lack of a NIROPS overnight flyover to collect the infrared data used in calculating actual burned area.

Halstead Fire Info explains, "The last IR flight we had was 9/19,  We are a very low priority fire nationally and 2 of the IR planes are broken in Boise so we probably will be lucky if we can get one more flight before this T3 org shuts down -- possibly next weekend.  So what you have now is all there will be for a while."

Saturday's high temperature in Stanley was 80 degrees, or 14 degrees above normal and only 4 degrees off the record high of 84 set in 1987.  Likewise, this morning's low temperature (so far) is shown as 40 degrees (@ 7:51 am) and that's almost a new record "high" low temperature.  The previous record "high" low temp was 41 degrees logged in 1970.  The Stanley temp this morning has been holding steady at 45 degrees until 6 am before taking one final drop before the sun rose.  Humidity yesterday dropped to 10 percent.  Luckily, the winds were calm.  However, such an unseasonably warm day most likely produced an average day's fire growth for the Halstead which has been in the 3000 acre range during the 56 days the fire has been burning.

NWS computer models have bumped up the amount of precipitation predicted as possible for north central Idaho from about a quarter inch over 72 hours to about a half inch over 48 hours.  It's entirely possible for a some rain to occur over the Halstead (and Mustang) sometime in the next 12-36 hours.  You can click on the small graphic at left  to see a larger version

Meanwhile, air flow has been favorable this morning for dispersal of the smoke in the Sawtooth Valley.

As of this morning, the Halstead Fire fighting cost reached a total of $25,558,000, little changed from yesterday's figure of $25,431,000.  There are currently 86 personnel - 2 hand crew, 6 engines, and 2 helicopters assigned to the fire.  Of the 86 personnel, 33 are overhead.  Two of the helicopters are the heavy lifting Type 1's.  However, one of those is in Challis for mechanical service.  Most of the fire personnel spent Friday and Saturday nights in the Sunny Gulch campground.  They should be able to return to motel rooms tonight after the Firemens Ball attendees check out today.

The Halstead Fire continues to be listed as 62 percent contained.  We asked for and received yesterday a new figure for the lineal length of the Halstead fire perimeter. It's 284.3 miles or about four miles farther than the highway distance from Stanley to Kamiah, Idaho.  Being 62 percent contained indicates there are roughly 176 miles of containment lines around the fire perimeter.

Today is the day The Salmon River opens back up in the SNRA.  It's been closed since Labor Day to help protect spawning salmon.

Here is the full text of this morning's InciWeb update:

"Another warm day produced active fire behavior with torching and weather influenced crown runs. The vicinity of Marsh and Bear Valley Creeks' confluence, which created the Middle Fork of the Salmon, moderately active fire behavior was observed. The fire is backing down the ridge that separates Bear Valley Creek from Marsh Creek. As a result, it is anticipated that the Bear Valley Creek Trail 012 will be closed on the north side of the Fir Creek Campground bridge, closing access to the Bear Valley Creek hot springs and the location known as Big Hole. Access to Blue Bunch Mtn. via trail would still be open. A small active area of fire on upper Tennell Creek, on the north side of Hwy, 21was quickly put out by firefighters. Southwest winds did begin to clear some smoke from the Sawtooth Valley. Sunday's forecast calls for increased clouds with a chance of rain late in the day.

What happened yesterday: Fire crews continued with suppression rehab work in the Yankee Fork area. Several engines and a Type 1 helicopter continued working in the Loon/China Creeks area. Seafoam was monitored by an engine crew. Additional rehab work and fire monitoring was accomplished by a handcrew and engine in the Marsh/Lola Creeks vicinity. A second handcrew arrived in late morning.

The Plan for Today: The fire's progress at the confluence of Marsh Creek and Bear Valley Creek will be closely monitored by air. The area of Marsh Creek and Lola Creek Campground will be monitored by engines. One handcrew will begin work on the entire length of the Pinyon Peak Rd., cleaning out fire debris from road culverts and mitigating any other fire damage. A second crew will work on a fire suppression repair project on Rankin Creek. Engines and the Type 1 helicopter will check fire spread in the Loon/China Creeks area."

---end of 9 am update---

(Update @ 8:45 am 9/22/12) Fall officially begins at 8:49 am today.  The Halstead Fire has been burning five days shy of two months.  It continues to be a very active fire as it grows more each day out in or near the wilderness area.  Friday, the fire expanded by over five square miles reaching a burned area total of 179,035 acres, up 3,325 acres from Friday's total.  Despite the growth, the fire containment grew to 62% yesterday.  Everyone is hoping for some fire-killing rain later this weekend.

Meanwhile, fire personnel dropped to 97 people.  The fire did gain a helicopter.  Resources include: 1 hand crew, 8 engines, and 3 helicopters.  Early this morning, fire management underwent a transfer of command from Adell's Great Basin Team #8 to Bartel's Type III organization.

The Halstead is now working its way into the headwaters of the Middle Fork.  Here is the full text of this morning's InciWeb site report:


"Fire activity in the Marsh Creek drainage is slowly moving downstream, northwest towards Bear Valley Creek and the confluence of Marsh and Bear Valley Creeks as they become the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Engines crews and the Type 3 helicopter worked a persistently active area in lower Basin Creek. Although the wind was coming from the south, very smoky air remained in the Sawtooth Valley. Saturday forecast has continued light winds with very unstable air which has the potential to increase fire activity in areas which have receptive fuels. Transfer of command from Great Basin Team #8 (Adell) to a Type III organization (Bartel) occurred at 0700.

What happened yesterday: Fire behavior was active with torching and crown runs influenced by steep slopes. Seafoam saw increased fire activity. Vanity Creek had an intense fire run to the top, as did a run in Lightning Creek which topped out and over into the headwaters of Pioneer Creek in the Loon Creek drainage. All activity was in the higher elevations. Additional helicopter bucket work was done in Jordan Creek to mitigate increased torching. China Creek and Mystery Lake areas did not show much movement. Fire moved closer to Collie Lake, while a handcrew and engine continued suppression repair work near Marsh Creek and Lola Creek Campground. The Salmon and Sawtooth National Forests' Burned Area Emergency Rehab (BAER) teams did an initial assessment.
The Plan for Today: Mop up, suppression repair and backhaul of firefighting equipment will continue in the Seafoam Area. Engine crews will monitor lower Basin Creek and carry on with rehab efforts. The upper reaches of Jordan Creek will be monitored as will the southern length of the fire from Marsh Creek through to the Yankee Fork.
Fire Weather: Clouds will increase throughout the day with a slight chance of rain Saturday night. Temperatures will remain high for this time of year. Air quality below 7500-foot elevation may remain stagnant until the inversion lifts about noon. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect.
River Closure: The Salmon River is closed to floating from Buckhorn Bridge to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area eastern boundary from Sept. 3-22 during salmon spawning. Bank fishing is open. The river will be open to all user groups Sept. 23.
Closures: The Loon Creek Rd., Forest Rd. 172, remains closed from 9 am to 9 pm from the Hecla Mine thru to the Loon Creek Guard Station to allow for safe firefighting operations. The Nip & Tuck Rd. (Forest Rd. 033) opened for non-motorized traffic. All spur roads leading to the north of the main road are still closed."

---end of 8:45 am update---
(Update @ 8:35 am 9/21/12) Fire Info posted the daily report early this morning.  Burned area is listed as 175,710 acres.  Fire resources include: 108 personnel - 1 hand crew, 8 engines, and 2 helicopters.

Here is what Fire Info had to say today:

"Smoky conditions throughout the fire area kept burning activity to a minimum. Noticeable fire behavior was smoldering, creeping and isolated single and group tree torching. Today will bring a wind shift with winds coming out of the south. Winds will be light, however the direction change should clear some of the smoke from the Sawtooth Valley.

What happened yesterday: The Type 1 helicopter continued to work all day in the Jordan Creek area dropping water to cool the fire edge, extinguishing hotspots, checking fire spread. China Creek drainage was monitored for any signs of growth. An engine crew was flown to the lightning caused fire called Blue Bunch on Blue Bunch Mtn., ultimately controlling that fire. A handcrew and an engine crew worked hard to nearly complete suppression work in the Marsh and Lola Creek Campground area. In Duffield Creek and around Mountain King Mine, which were the hot spots the day before, the fire was not noticeably moving. Suppression repair work was also nearing completion. The Nip & Tuck Rd. (Forest Rd. 033) opened for non-motorized traffic. All spur roads leading to the north of the main road are still closed.

The Plan for Today: The area of concentration will be Loon Creek Summit and Jordan Creek. The Type 1 helicopter will continue with water drops to check any advance of the fire in the headwaters of Jordan and China Creeks. A handcrew and engine will work to complete mop up and secure the Marsh Creek, Lola Creek Campground area. Four engines, spiked at Loon Creek Guard Station, are still monitoring fire activity along the Loon Creek drainage. Three excavators, a road grader, water tender and engine will continue with suppression repair work, as well as grading the dirt roads along the Hwy 21 corridor.

Fire Weather: Winds will be from the south, along with an increase in temperatures nearly 14 degrees above normal for this time of year. Air quality below 7500-foot elevation may remain stagnant until the inversion lifts about noon. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect."


(Update @ 2 pm 9/20/12) There are two items to discuss this afternoon.  The first is a change in the area closure that was published on InciWeb within the hour.  It has not yet been accompanied by a map but we suspect the amended closure order opens up a wide additional area.  Stay tuned for the map.

The actual burned acreage as of this morning (9/20) is listed as 175,487 acres, a gain of  6,863 acres from yesterday's total of 168,624 acres. This 10.7 sq. mi. gain in burned area ranks yesterday as the 7th highest one day gain in burned area acres since figures began to be released on July 31.  Occasionally, there might be a discrepancy between the InciWeb report and the fire progression map.  Fire Info explained why:

"Inciweb is updated strictly based on the...data we get at 1800 each night.  The maps came out over night after the infrared flights and we don't get them until later in the a.m. usually after we do the update.  So the infrared flight is more accurate--we just get the data later.  We will show the infrared acreage on tonight's inciweb.  Just the way we have been instructed to present the data. Have to have a cut off time for data in and data out.  Otherwise we would be in an endless circle."

---end of 2 pm update---
(Update @ 10:40 am 9/20/12)  The Halstead Fire grew by 3,504 acres yesterday or about 5.5 square miles.  Total burned area Thursday is listed at 172,128 vs. 168.624 yesterday.  The fire is listed as 59% contained, up from 57% on Wednesday.  This represents a gain of roughly five miles of containment lines somewhere on the fire perimeter.  There are 117 personnel - 1 hand crew, 8 engines, and 2 helicopters on the fire resources roster.

The morning InciWeb report states:

"The Nip and Tuck Road (Forest Rd. 033) will open today at 0600 for NON-MOTORIZED traffic only. Cherry stems leading to the north of the road are still closed. Repairs from fire suppression activities are 80% complete. Rehab to fire areas caused by fire effects are yet to be addressed by an incoming Burned Area Emergency Rehab (BAER) Team. The Loon Creek Rd., Forest Rd. 172, remains closed from 9 am to 9 pm to allow for safe firefighting operations. The Closure starts above the Hecla Mine thru to the Loon Creek Guard Station.

What happened yesterday: An engine crew hiked up Blue Bunch Mtn. to mop up a 1/10 acre lightning fire with the assistance of a Type 3 helicopter using water drops. Early in the morning, firefighters looked for opportunities to go direct at the headwaters of Jordan Creek. Because of numerous spot fires in heavy timber, a Type 1 helicopter was utilized all day with bucket drops. Engine crews assessed structures at Echo Mine, looking at landslides and the Estes Mtn. Rd. as possible tie in areas. The handcrew, assisted by an engine, continued to work in the Marsh Creek area mopping up as needed. A road grader worked on the dirt roads along the Hwy 21 corridor to repair road damage. Collie Lake, Sawmill Creek and Pole Creek areas continue to burn, but are not moving aggressively.

The Plan for Today: The engine crew will be headed back to Blue Bunch Mtn. to finish work on the lightning fire there. The Type 1 helicopter will continue with water drops to check the advance of the fire in the headwaters of Jordan Creek. An additional Type 1 helicopter will be available in Challis if needed. The handcrew and engine will continue to secure and mop up the Marsh Creek area. Firefighters will continue to monitor activity at Collie Lake, Sawmill Creek and Pole Creek areas. The grader will continue working on roads along the Hwy 21 corridor.

Fire Weather: Temperatures are expected to be a few more degrees higher today with light north winds. Air quality below 7500-foot elevation will remain stagnant with reduced visibility. An inversion at 1300 feet above the valley is unlikely to lift today. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect."

---end of 10:40 am update---
(Update @ 9:30 am 9/20/12) The weather pattern continues to show "warm & dry" with no decent precipitation probable in the near term.

As of Thursday morning, The Halstead Fire personnel was listed as 117, including 49 staff who serve as overhead which includes fire supervision positions as well as admin. types..

Since the fire camp was disassembled, remaining crew are staying in  6-8 Stanley motels. Personnel are spread out a few here and there.  Ironically, all Halstead fire personnel will once again be camping out Friday and Saturday nights due to the Firemans Ball. All available motels rooms were booked long ago for the Ball.

The Stanley Community Center is the new Incident Command Post for the Halstead Fire, at least until Saturday when a Type 3 team replaces the Type 2 Team no managing the fire.

It is unknown at this time where the ICP will be located after Saturday.  According to Fire Info, "The Type 3 organization will be very, very small."

Fire Info is now located with the command staff at the community center. There is a trailer outside to provide copy service to the ICP.  There is no satellite truck anymore.

Briefings are conducted inside the community center since the fire management team is now a small group.

The Halstead Fire cost as of today is listed at $25,256,000.

As far as food service for the remaining fire personnel, Fire Info said, "Bridge St Grill is the official restuarant for eating where the fire is paying for meals but folks are free to go elsewhere and pay for it themselves if they so choose. Folks have been asked to go to the Grill because he has purchased lots of food for the fire and doesn't want to take a loss on it."
---end of 9:30 am update---


(Update @ 5 pm 9/19/12)  The Halstead Fire Camp is no more.  We asked earlier today what the plans for the camp were and received this email at 4:36 pm today: "There are 134 people today.  The fire camp on Hwy 21 has been dismantled although it will be a day or two before the trailers on the south side are picked up by the rental company.  The caterer has gone. Feeding will be by the Bridge St. Grill in Lower Stanley for breakfast and dinner.  [It was the] Only place that had the people and capacity to take care of the fire."
---end of 5 pm update---
(Update @ 12:35 pm 9/19/12)  Fresh KML data was posted this morning.  It was obtained in an overnight infrared flight by NIROPS.  We will be making various maps from the Google Earth data.  Our first two are below.  Yesterday (Tuesday) there was apparently a rumor circulating in Challis that the fire had jumped the Loon Creek Road and was heading toward Challis.  As is the case with 99.99% of rumors, this one was totally false.  As of last night's data, the fire was still on the west side of the Loon Creek Road and the closest part of the fire perimeter remains more than 25 lineal miles from Challis.

The two graphics below will give you a better perspective.  The first shows the overall Halstead Fire perimeter.  The large yellow line stretches between the closest part of the fire and Challis (right end of line).  The second graphic shows a close up of the area at the left end of the line.  We will discuss it in more detail below the second graphic.

OK, in the above, graphic, you are looking at the portion of the fire that is closest to the Loon Creek Summit area. You can easily see the switchbacks as the road makes its way up and over Loon Creek Summit.  Note that the area to the west of the summit is not heavily timbered.  There is a relative scarcity of fuel in this vicinity.  The top potion of the perimeter here is still just barely into the upper China Creek drainage.  No part of the fire (as of last night's overflight) was closer than one mile to any part of the road itself.

The Loon Creek Road is closed from the Hecla Mine to Loon Creek Guard Station simply so that fire crews can have a safe working environment as they begin to prepare for a possible burn out near the road itself.  The burn out's purpose would be to greatly reduce fuel availability near the road, thereby reducing chances that the fire might spot ahead in the next wind event and then possibly cross the road.  As of last night's data, there is no imminent danger that the fire is crossing the road.
---end of 12:35 pm update---

(Update @ 9:45 am 9/19/12)  As of this morning, there are no new maps for: fire friefing, infra red, fire progression or KML.  At this time, it appears the burned area is 168.624 acres. No new fire roster figures have been posted today.  Here is the only new information as posted this morning on InciWeb:


NEW FIRE INFORMATION NUMBER
The number to call for information has changed. Please call 208-309-5186 for updates about the Halstead Fire.

A new Road Closure Order has been signed for Forest Road 172, the Loon Creek Road. The Closure starts above the Hecla Mine thru to the Loon Creek Guard Station. It will be closed from 9 am to 9 pm to allow for safe firefighting operations. 

A new lightning start was detected on Blue Bunch Mtn. yesterday. It is about 1/10 of an acre. Today, an engine crew will hike into the area to mop up the fire with the assistance of a Type 3 helicopter making bucket drops. 

Work is continuing on Monday's lightning start, the Four Creeks Fire, south of Bull Trout Lake. A Type 1 helicopter will be assisting with bucket drops.

What happened yesterday: The fire continued to be active in the Seafoam area. A private recreational cabin was destroyed. The Lost Packer Mine vicinity still saw backing fire activity. Helicopters aided in helping to control the advance of the fire to the east in the Mt. Jordan area. Crews continued to grid Marsh Creek, catching spot fires from the completed burn out. Lola Campground and Marsh Creek are still closed. Rehabilitation and suppression repair work continued on the southern perimeter of the fire. A road grader started working on the dirt roads along the Hwy 21 corridor to repair road damage.

The Plan for Today: Crews started working early today near Mt. Jordan and the Jordan Creek area to build direct fireline to halt fire spread to the east, working to prevent the fire from crossing the Loon Creek Road (Forest Road 172). Efforts will continue to secure the area around Marsh Creek and Lola Campground. Suppression repair work and rehabilitation of dozer lines continue in affected areas along the southern flank of the fire. Structure protection measures remain in place along Yankee Fork, Seafoam Guard Station and around Lost Packer Mine.

---end of 9:45 am update---
(Update @ 10:45 am 9/18/12)  The Halstead Fire containment grew to 57% while personnel dropped to 167 from yesterday's roster of 254.  This may be the first day fire personnel have been under 200 since the NIMO Team took over the fire management in early August.  Today's fire resources include 3 hand crews, 6 engines, and 2 helicopters  Burned area was reported as 168,106 this morning

The Loon Creek Road (Forest Road 172) above Hecla Mine to Loon Creek Guard Station will be closed today from 9 am to 9 pm while fire managers assess the need for a burnout to stop fire progression to the road.  The purpose of the road closure is to allow fire crews safer freedom of movement of personnel and equipment.  At this time, the road is only expected to be closed to conduct the burn out operation and for a period of time afterwards to make certain the area is safe for public travel.

Here is the text of this morning's InciWeb update:

Community Meeting Tonight: Suppression repair and rehabilitation efforts for the 168,000-acre Halstead Fire will be the main topic of a presentation Tuesday evening at the Community Building in Stanley. The meeting will begin at 7:00 pm and will include an update on the current status of operations on the fire.
What happened yesterday: The fire was active in Duffield Creek near the Sheep Mountain area. Near Loon Creek Summit the fire grew near Jordan Mountain and into Jordan Creek with some active spotting. Monday afternoon a new fire was detected on the Boise National Forest just west of the Halstead Incident. Halstead air operations responded by sending two helicopters to suppress the Four Creeks Fire, which grew to six acres by Monday evening. Lola Campground and Marsh Creek were closed. Rehabilitation and suppression repair work continued on the southern perimeter of the fire.
The Plan for Today: Operations will look for opportunities to conduct a burnout west of the Loon Creek Road (Forest Road 172) to halt the fire's eastward progression towards the road. A hand crew and helicopter will assist containing the Four Creeks Fire southwest of the Halstead Incident. Efforts will continue to secure the area around Marsh Creek and Lola Campground. Suppression repair work and rehabilitation of dozer lines continue in affected areas along the southern flank of the fire. Structure protection measures remain in place along Yankee Fork, Seafoam Guard Station and around Lost Packer Mine.
Fire Weather: Temperatures are expected to be a few degrees higher today with light winds. Despite the winds, air quality below 7500-foot elevation will remain stagnant with reduced visibility. An inversion at 1300 feet above the valley is unlikely to lift today. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect.
---end of 10:45 am update---
(Update at 9:45 am 9/17/12)  Burned area is 168,106 acres as of the Monday morning InciWeb report.  That's a gain of 740 acres from yesterday's total. Fire personnel was reduced from 299 on Sunday to 254 today. There are now 4 hand crews versus five yesterday. The 11 engines and 2 helicopters remain unchanged.

Here is the narrative report posted this morning on InciWeb:


"Suppression repair and rehabilitation efforts for the 168,000-acre Halstead Fire will be the main topic of a presentation tomorrow evening at the Community Building in Stanley. The meeting will begin Tuesday at 7:00 pm and will include an update on the current status of operations on the fire.

What happened Yesterday: The eastern flank of the Halstead Fire was fairly quiet on Sunday due to smoky conditions. On the western side, there was active burning and some spot fires detected. Ground work continued to suppress the new spots, complete a burnout around structures at the Seafoam Guard Station, and secure the area. Fire did burn through the Rapid River Campground, destroying all four campsites and toilet facility. Lola Campground and Marsh Creek were closed and operations are underway to prevent damage to the campground. Structure protection continues along Yankee Fork and around Lost Packer Mine.
The Plan for Today: Mop up efforts will continue to clean up the area around the Seafoam Guard Station following yesterday's burnout operation. Engines will be stationed at Lost Packer Mine and monitor fire activity in the China Creek drainage. Suppression repair work and rehabilitation of dozer lines will continue in affected areas along the southern flank of the fire. The Marsh Creek area will be monitored to pick up any new spot fires from lightning that came through the area Sunday afternoon.
Fire Weather: A thunderstorm came through the Sunday with lightning with very little moisture received on the fire. Gusty winds accompanying the storm cleared out smoke in the Stanley area but an inversion returned by this morning. There is no measurable precipitation in the weather for the remainder of the week. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect."
---end of 9:45 am update---


(Update @ 1:45 pm 9/16/12)  On Saturday, the Halstead Fire added another 4,500 acres to the burned area, bringing today's total to 167,366 acres.  The bulk of the newly burned area lies in the northern and north eastern sectors of the fire many miles from Stanley and the paved highways.  We prepped some graphics to show the fire growth areas and they are positioned below this continuing narrative.

Fire fighting resources are holding steady with 299 personnel, including 5 hand crews, 11 engines and two helicopters.  Here is what the Sunday morning InciWeb site report had to say:

"What Happened Yesterday: Strong winds over the fire area yesterday drove active fire behavior with spotting and sustained crown runs. The fire made a significant run to the north into the Seafoam bubble and into Sulphur Creek, across Rapid River, crossing into Lime Creek. Fire crews conducted a burnout to protect structures around Seafoam Guard Station, resulting in a large smoke column visible from the valley. In Marsh Creek, the fire burned within 100 yards of the trailhead. Water drops from the helicopters assisted in halting its progression towards Collie Lake. Crews conducted burnout operations to prevent damage around Lola Campground. On the eastern perimeter, the fire grew over the ridgeline at Lightning Creek and established in the head of the China Creek drainage.
The Plan for Today: Two engines and two hand crews will work in the Marsh Creek area, aided by aerial water drops to establish containment lines. The Cherokee Hot Shots will work to reinforce protection in the Seafoam Guard Station area and remain there overnight in order to get an early start again Monday morning. Monitoring will continue at Lost Packer Mine. Crews remain stationed at Loon Guard Station. Aerial monitoring on the eastern side of the fire will be done and be supported by helicopter water drops to help check fire progression further east. Suppression repair operations are underway on the southern flank of the fire, including rehabilitation of dozer lines.
Fire Weather: A cold front will enter the area Sunday which is expected to bring thunderstorms with lightning but very little moisture. Gusty and erratic winds from this storm may test fire lines again today. Smoke continues to drift into the valleys from other fires burning in Oregon and Washington. Air quality in Stanley and Challis will be good during the day but is expected to deteriorate at night. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect."

There has been no fresh KML data for Google Earth posted since September 13th so we are relying on old-fashioned topo maps courtesy of Acme Maps to describe some of the landmarks mentioned in this morning's InciWeb update.  Comments are below each graphic.

 "A" is the approx. location of the Seafoam Guard Station.  "B" is Sulphur Creek; "C" is the Rapid River; and "D" is Lime Creek.
In the above graphic, "A" is Lightning Creek; "B" is China Creek; "C" is Loon Creek Summit and "D" is the Hecla Mine on Jordan Creek.  Earlier today there was a rumor going around that the road from Bonanza over Loon Creek Summit had been closed.  Fire Info said the road was open as of 9 am and verified it was open at 2 pm.  If you hear a rumor, simply call Fire Info at 208-774-0011 to determine the truth of the matter.  The Fire Info Staff is doing a really good job and they will be happy to let you know the facts of any given situation.

Above is a clip from this morning's Halstead Fire briefing map.  "A" is Lightning Creek; "B": is China Creek; "C" is Loon Creek Summit and "D" is the Hecla Mine.

Lastly, we put yesterday major fire growth areas into perspective with each other.  The Seafoam area near the Rapid River is at left. "A" is Sulphur Creek; "B" Is rapid River and "C" is Lime Creek.  "D" is Diamond D Ranch and "E" is China Creek.  Click on the map for a more readable version.  You will easily be able to see Pinyon Peak Lookout and Loon Creek Summit on the larger version of this map.

Note that when Fire Info refers to a specific landmark such as a creek, it does not necessarily mean the fire has consumed the forest in the entire watershed of that creek.  Landmarks are used to discuss the general vicinity of the fire.  For example when Fire Info says the fire has become "established in the head of the China Creek drainage," that can also be interpreted as the fire having reached a portion of the upper part of the small China Creek drainage.  When you are trying to understand the "whereabouts" of the Halstead Fire, it is advisable to use topo maps, the fire briefing map and KML data is available.
---end of 1:45 pm update---


(Update @ 11:20 am 9/15/12) Friday was an active day for the Halstead.  The fire grew by about 7,000 acres.  The burned area is now officially listed as 162,800 acres versus 155,677 yesterday.  There are 306 personnel - 5 hand crews, 11 engines, and 2 helicopters on the fire roster.  Current cost is slightly over $24-million. The fire remains 50% contained.

As many as four smokes plumes visible from Stanley & Sawtooth Country sparked some citizen concern Friday.  All of the fire action was far in the north and west sectors far from Stanley.  We prepared a graphic from Google Earth showing the general locations of the largest areas of fire growth Friday.  On the west, the fire near Seafoam Guard Station was more than 21 miles from Stanley.  On the north, the burning in Lightning Creek was more than 18 miles from Stanley. The fire line from the Bradley Boy Scout Camp to Sunbeam is contained and was not involved in fire growth Friday.  The fire has not and did not cross the Salmon River.  (Photo at least taken 9/14/12 and courtesy of Mark Wilson.) Narrative continues below graphic.
The Stanley Community meeting Friday evening was attended by about 20 people, including the Stanley Mayor and Council Chairman who thanked the NIMO fire managers for their work in protecting the community.  Stanley Deputy Area Ranger Barbara Garcia presented each of the NIMO Team leaders with a  2013 Stanley Community Library calendar.  The NIMO Team was also recognized and formally thanks at the Thursday evening meeting of the Stanley City Council.

Meanwhile, it's fire fighting business at usual at the Halstead Fire Camp two miles west of Stanley on Idaho Highway 21.  Warm, dry, low humidity conditions are expected to set the stage for further fire growth today and in the days ahead.  We have a variety of maps and graphics this morning.  Each has comments below it.
Here is the Saturday Halstead Fire progression map.  It is a very large file and you can click on it to view it in finer detail.
Above is a clip of the progression map of the fire growth Friday in the Lightning Creek area.  The "1" is Mt. Jordan and "2" is Loon Creek Summit.
Here is an Acme topo map clip showing Lightning Creek, Mt. Jordan and Loon Creek Summit.
Lastly, we have a clip showing the fire growth area in the vicinity of the Seafoam Guard Station (marked with the red "X.)

Below is the text of the Saturday InciWeb site report for the Halstead Fire>


"What Happened Yesterday: Brisk winds on Friday rekindled portions of the Halstead Fire, primarily on the north and western perimeters. This produced four large smoke plumes visible from the Sawtooth Valley and the total size of the fire increased by more than 7,000 acres. Fire crossed west at Marsh Creek and west of Pinyon Peak. Water drops from a Type 1 helicopter supported efforts on the ground, including a Hot Shot crew securing fire line at Lightning Creek. The southern perimeter of the fire is contained west of Bradley Boy Scout Camp to Sunbeam on the east.
The Plan for Today: Saturday is another critical fire weather day with a "Red Flag" warning for more gusty winds issued from noon until 10:00 pm tonight. Air resources today will continue supporting crews on the ground with water drops. Engines will go into the Seafoam area to check on structure protection and conduct a possible burnout. Rehabilitation and suppression repair work will continue.
Air Quality: Smoke continues to drift into the valleys from other fires burning in Oregon and Washington. Air quality in Stanley and Challis will be good during the day but is expected to deteriorate at night and throughout the weekend. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect.
River Closure: The Salmon River is closed to floating from Buckhorn Bridge to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area eastern boundary from September 3-22 during salmon spawning. Bank fishing is open. The river will be open to all user groups as of September 23.
Closures: The area closure for the Halstead Fire has been reduced on the eastern perimeter of the fire. The Yankee Fork Road and Forest Road 172 are now open but the area west of Yankee Fork remains closed. Along the Highway 75 Salmon River Corridor from Stanley to the Sawtooth NRA boundary, the following campgrounds are open and will be managed by the Sawtooth National Recreation Area through the end of hunting season: Casino, Mormon Bend, Upper O'Brien, Holman, and Whiskey Flat."

---end of 11:20 am update---

(Update @ 10:15 am 9/13/12)  After nearly 45 days assigned to the HalsteadFire, Bob Houseman's NIMO team will turn over incident management to Marty Adell's Type 2 Team at 6:00 am Friday morning.  Generally, the assignment of a Type 2 Team to a fire indicates it is less of an overall threat and generally lesser of a priority relative to other active fires.

There are only four NIMO Teams in the country.  The assignment of one of the NIMO Team to the Halstead in early August has largely been perceived as a recognition of the urgency and importance of keeping the fire from affecting the heart of Sawtooth County.  Although the loss of over 154,000 arces of forests is a big hit, we, for one, believe the NIMO Team's fire managers did an outstanding job protecting Stanley and Sawtooth Country.

The Halstead Fire is now 50% contained as on Wednesday evening.

Total burned area is now listed as 154,149 acres.  There are 336 personnel - 5 hand crews, 11 engines, and 2 helicopters currently assigned to the fire.

(Additional information posted @ 10:30 am)  The current fire cost is $23,488,598.  Of the 336 personnel, 116 are "overhead" (AKA: Administration).  The 116 figure is down sharply from the more than 200 "overhead" that served the fire not long ago.  The two helicopters include one Type i and one Type 3.  Personnel numbers are expected to continue shrinking in the days ahead.  At some unknown future date, it is likely that fire camp will be dismantled and remaining fire personnel will be housed and fed in Stanley motels and restaurants.  The Friday evening event at the Stanley Community Center will be the last opportunity for local residents to say "THANKS" to fire managers.  We sure hope folks turn out to do so.
---end of 10:15 am update---


There will be a meeting at 7:00 pm, Friday Sept. 14, at the StanleyCommunity Center. Members of both incident management teams will present an overview ofthe Halstead Fire progression at a community meeting Friday night at 7:00 pm at the Stanley Community Building.

The Plan for Today: Ongoing suppression repair efforts will continue. Structure protection measures will remain inYankee Fork, Sunbeam, Lost Packer Mine, and Seafoam Guard Station. Active monitoring of all fire areas willcontinue as crews cleanup and backhaul equipment from the fire line. Crews will clear Forest Service roads within thefire area in preparation for use when the area closure is lifted.


(Update @ 9:30 am 9/12/12)  The Halstead Fire's official burned acreage stands at 153,995 Wednesday morning, up from 151,820 yesterday.  Personnel and resources continue to decline.  There are 396 personnel - 7 hand crews, 11 engines, and 2 helicopters on the fire roster.  Here is the text of the Wednesday morning Halstead InciWeb site report:


"What Happened Yesterday:  The Cape Horn Fire was declared out at 5:00 pm Tuesday. This fire, sparked by lightning Sunday, was held to one-tenth of an acre in size and was controlled by that evening. A Type 1 Hot Shot Crew worked directly on fire lines in Basin Creek and Sawmill Creek drainages, aided by support from a Type 1 helicopter. In the south, a planned burnout connected fire line and secured containment between Tennell Creek and Anderson Creek in the Cow Camp area. There was minimal fire activity except for some isolated torching on interior portions of the fire. Crews continued removing snags and other fire debris to open up Forest Service roads previously closed within the fire activity. Rehabilitation and mop up of areas along the perimeter of the fire continued.

The Plan for Today: Fire progression will be monitored near Loon Creek Guard Station, Diamond D Ranch, Bonanza, and in the Marsh Creek drainage. Structure protection will continue along Highway 75, Yankee Fork, Sunbeam, Lost Packer Mine and Seafoam Guard Station. Engines and crews will mop up areas where the fire has been held and rehabilitate areas that pose no potential for fire spread. Crews will continue to clear Forest Service roads within the fire area.
Air Quality: On Wednesday air quality in Stanley will be good during the day but is expected to deteriorate at night and throughout the rest of the week. Drifting smoke from both the Halstead and Mustang fires continues to drift into the Challis airshed, gradually degrading air quality towards the weekend. The Stage I air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect.
Closures: Know before you go. The area closure for the Halstead Fire was reduced on September 11. The Yankee Fork and Loon Creek Roads are now open. Loon Creek is closed above the summit but is open to Tin Cup. The Loon Creek Trail is open but the area to the west of the trail remains closed."

---end of 9:30 am update---

(Update @ 9:30 am 9/11/12)  The InciWeb site was updated about 9:15 am this morning.  COntainment increased another five percentage points and the Halstead is now 45% contained. The Halstead burned into the Merino and it is now considered part of the Halstead.  A large area east of the fire is once again open to public access.  The official fire acreage is listed as 151,820 acres.  Resources continue to be drawn down.  There are 439 personnel - 7 hand crews, 15 engines, and 2 helicopters on the fire roster.

Here is the full morning InciWeb reports:


The Salmon-Challis NF has reduced the closure affecting the Halstead Fire, specifically in the eastern portion of the fire perimeter. The portion of the affected closure to be made available for public use and its access will begin at the junction of Hwy 75 and the community of Sunbeam. The road is open from Sunbeam, along Coyote Road through the community of Bonanza to Loon Landing at Tin Cup. Public is reminded that the area west of the road remains closed and the area east of the road is open. The Sawtooth National Forest has also rescinded the closure for the Salmon River Corridor and White Cloud Mountains of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Community Meeting: There will be a meeting at 7:00 pm, Friday Sept. 14, at the Stanley Community Center.

What Happened Yesterday: Idaho Governor Butch Otter visited the Incident Command Post Monday afternoon for a briefing on the Halstead Fire. There was minimal fire activity over most of the fire, with some active burning and isolated torching along the fire perimeter within the Wilderness area. The fire spread to the north of Lost Packer Mine and joined with the Merino Fire, which is now included in the Halstead Incident. Although this significantly increased the total acreage for the Halstead Fire, infrared mapping was not available Monday night to reflect the accurate fire perimeter. Rehabilitation efforts were completed on the Bench Fire. Crews monitored the Cape Horn Fire, which started Sunday by a lightning strike and was extinguished by Sunday evening. Containment lines continued to hold along Highway 75 west of Sunbeam and along Highway 21 behind the Cow Camp residences. Structure protection measures remained in place along the Yankee Fork and around Lost Packer Mine.

Air Quality: Smoke from the Pole Creek fire near Sisters, Oregon, drifted into the Stanley area Monday afternoon, creating hazy conditions in the valley. Air quality in Stanley is expected to be good during the day and will deteriorate overnight throughout the rest of the week. The Challis area is currently shielded from the direct effects of the Halstead Fire but air quality there will continue to degrade towards the weekend.

The Plan for Today: A burnout is planned in Tunnel Creek which may produce smoke visible from Stanley. Backhaul of supplies and equipment will continue in Yankee Fork. Fire progression will be monitored near Loon Creek Guard Station, Diamond D Ranch, Bonanza, in the Marsh Creek drainage and the Cape Horn Fire. Structure protection will continue along Highway 75, Yankee Fork, Sunbeam, Lost Packer Mine and Seafoam Guard Station. Engines and crews will mop up areas where the fire has been held and rehabilitate areas that pose no potential for fire spread.

---end of 9:30 am update---

(Update @ noon 9/10/12)  Salmon-Challis NF Public Affairs Officer Amy Baumer called us back this morning regarding our inquires about the Merino Fire.  She said there are currently 3 people assigned to the fire and it has cost $20,000 to fight so far.  It is being handled at the local Forest level and is not assigned to an incident team.  She did not know whether it would be considered to be part of the Halstead should the fire lines join at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, the winds are picking up in the Halstead vicinity but haven't yet affected the Mustang zone.  Recent wind gusts have been 44 mph on Pinyon Peak, 19 at both Cape Horn and Stanley, and 20 at Bonanza.  The Challis Airport is gusting to 28 mph.

(Update @ 9:45 am 9/10/12)  Good News continues to come from the Halstead fire managers.  As of Sunday night, the fire reached the 40% containment level, up another five percentage points from the day before.  In just a few days, containment jumped from 7% to 40%.  As fire managers report additional containment, Halstead resources are beginning to be reduced or reassigned to other incidents.  The helicopter number had dropped by half fro 8 to four.  There are still two Type 1 choppers on the Halstead but they may be temporarily loaned out as Halstead conditions permit.

Meanwhile, the number of engines reported Monday morning is now 19.  We believe the engine number peaked at 33 in late August.  Fire personnel will see a slight reduction in each of the upcoming days. The number of personnel dropped below 500 this morning and is expected to decline again tomorrow.

As of last night, the cost of fighting the Halstead Fire was approximately $22-million.

Officially, the fire has burned 151,200 acres.  There are 490 personnel - 8 hand crews, 19 engines, and 4 helicopters on the fire roster.

The winds on the Snake River Plain and here in Idaho Falls have really picked up in the last hour.  At the Idaho Falls Airport the wind is blowing 23 mph and gusting to 30.  Although the wind on the 9,900 foot Pinyon Peak is gusting to 34 mph, it does not yet appear that surface winds in the Halstead or Mustang Fire areas have yet reached critical levels.

Here is this morning's InciWeb narrative update:


"What Happened Yesterday: Lightning that came through the area mid-day sparked a new fire above Thatcher Creek south of Highway 21 west of Stanley. Quick response by initial attack resources aided by water drops from a Type 1 helicopter kept the Cape Horn Fire to one-tenth of an acre. The Cape Horn Fire was controlled by 4:00 pm Sunday afternoon. Containment lines held along Highway 75 west of Sunbeam and along Highway 21 behind the Cow Creek residences. Structure protection remains in place along the Yankee Fork and Lost Packer Mine. One Type 1 helicopter was loaned to the Mustang Fire and another to a new fire start near Boise. Both returned to the Halstead Incident by evening. Rehabilitation efforts continued on the Bench Fire and are expected to be completed Monday.

Air Quality: Air quality is expected to be good as predicted winds help clear out smoke and deter the development of inversions overnight. Air quality should remain good until Tuesday when stable air returns and smoke from interior islands burning in the fire interior may settle in the valleys due to strong inversions. Inversions will clear during the heat of the day.

The Plan for Today: Rehabilitation will continue on the Bench Fire. The fire will be monitored along Marsh Creek and the Cape Horn Fire. Backhaul of supplies and equipment will continue in Yankee Fork. Fire progression will also be monitored near Loon Creek Guard Station, Diamond D Ranch, and Bonanza. Structure protection will continue along Highway 75, Yankee Fork, Sunbeam, Lost Packer Mine and Seafoam Guard Station. Engines and crews will mop up areas where the fire has been held and rehabilitate areas that pose no potential for fire spread. A "Red Flag Warning" has been issued for high winds today from noon until 9:00 pm.

Highway 75 Update: No road closures are anticipated along the Highway over the next several days, but may be implemented if visibility is reduced due to smoke impact. If necessary, a pilot car will be used to escort traffic one way along a limited section."
---end of 9:45 am update---


(Update @ 5 am 9/10/12) Although early morning conditions are calm, the "Wind Event" is progged to continue today.  The 2:53 am Pocatello NWS Forecast Discussion states, "A LOW PRESSURE DISTURBANCE CROSSING NORTHERN IDAHO TODAY WILL BRING BREEZY WEST TO SOUTHWEST WINDS TO ALL OF SOUTHEAST IDAHO TODAY.COOLER AIR ALONG WITH STRONG WINDS WILL SPREAD ACROSS THE AREA. SUSTAINED WINDS OF 15-25 MPH AND GUSTS OF 25-35 MPH ARE FORECAST THROUGH THIS EVENING...IF NOT HIGHER."  (NWS types in All Caps.)

Once again, a substantial area is under a Red Flag warning today.  The Halstead fire lines appear to have held well on Sunday.
---end of 5 am update---
(Update @ 5:30 pm 9/9/12)  Intrepid Ace of Diamonds Photographer, SG, just sent along a 5:30 pm photo showing how it looks from Stanley facing east.  So far, so good.  THANK YOU, SG!


(Update @ 5 pm 9/9/12)  Winds continue to increase in peak gust speeds.  Here's how the gust speeds lay out in the graphic below: 48 mph at Pinyon Peak; 25 mph at Bonanza; 32 at Stanley and 26 at Cape Horn.
The red "X" marks the approx location of the Halstead Fire.
The Google Wind Map is pretty mesmerizing to watch right now.  You can click on the map to zoom in on Boise and then kind of look a little to the northeast to get an idea where the Halstead is located at roughly 44.5/115.1.  The long/lat will show up as you mouse over the map.  Pretty big southwesterly air flow right now.  http://hint.fm/wind/

(Update @ 2:30 pm 9/9/12)  The afternoon winds arrived almost right on cue between 1-2 pm today but are not blowing too badly as mid-afternoon.  The red numbers in the graphic below are the most recent gust speeds. The red "X" represent the general area of the Halstead.  we put in a large area on this graphic so you can see who widespread the wind action is this afternoon. The little "wind barbs," as they are called give the direction.  If the barb is pointing north that means the wins is coming out of the south.  Looks like Pinyon Peak is gusting to 23; Bonanza to 20; Camp Horn and Stanley to 17 mph.  Winds are progged to increase in strength as the afternoon progresses.
As far as today's InciWeb site update, here is what Fire Info has to say,

"What Happened Yesterday: Burnout operations continued along Highway 75 west of Sunbeam. Fire spread was minimal to the north and east. Fire personnel continued holding the area east of the Cow Camp structures. A basin, well interior, burned and put off a small column of smoke. Several lines to hold and check the fire were identified for future use. Isolated torching and increased surface fire was observed during the peak burning period of the day. Kelley Creek, Noho Creek, and Basin Creek all west of Yankee Creek have established fire. Structure protection remained in place for the areas along the Yankee Fork and Lost Packer Mine. The Bench fire reached 80% rehabilitation. A sprinkler system was set up to protect the Lola Creek Campground should fire cross Marsh Creek. A Type 1 Helicopter was released on loan to the Mustang Fire to assist in suppression efforts and was scheduled to be returned to the Halstead Fire by Sunday morning.
Air Quality: Winds will prevent the smoke from settling in the evening inversion. This will result in a "Good" to "Moderate" air quality through Tuesday. The lower amount of smoke produced by the Halstead Fire will produce minimal impact on the Challis area but the down-slope area of Stanley will still see residual smoke settle in the evening.
The Plan for Today: Backhaul of supplies and equipment will continue in addition to yesterday's continuing efforts. Engines and crews will continue to mop up areas where fire has been held and rehabilitate areas that pose no potential for fire spread. Resource Advisor plans for erosion control and necessary cleanup of dozer berms and hand lines around sensitive areas of trails, drainages, and creek will continue. Sprinkler systems will be activated at the Loon Creek Guard Station and Seafoam Guard Station. Rehab on the Bench fire will continue towards completion. The fire will be monitored along Marsh Creek. Fire fighters holding near the Cow Camp structures will implement full suppression efforts as needed. No aerial ignitions are planned for the next two days. Fire behavior is dependent on cloud cover and precipitation throughout the day. Single and group torching of trees and low to moderate fire spread are predicted. A "Red Flag Warning" has been issued for high winds from 2:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
Highway 75 Update: No road closures are anticipated along the Highway over the next several days, but may be implemented if visibility is reduced due to smoke impact. If necessary, a pilot car will be used to escort traffic one way along a limited section."

The fire has burned 150,976 acres.   There are 510 personnel - 7 hand crews, 26 engines, and 4 helicopters assigned to the fire.

---end of 2:30 pm update---

(Update @ 7:20 am 9/9/12) The next two days see a return of high winds to both the Halstead and Mustang Fires.  The Halstead fire might be in potentially good shape to possibly withstand the onset of winds which could reach peak gust speeds of 45 mph sometime between noon today and Monday evening.  The winds are progged to blow out of the south, southwest and possibly the west.  Unfortunately, the passing front will be accompanied by dry lightning in the Central Mountains.  The front is large, as indicated by the extent of the Red Flag warnings shown in this morning's national NWS warning map at left.  Sustained wind speeds during this critical two day period might blow in as high as the mid to upper 20 mph range.

Wind is one of the major contributors to wildland fire spread and growth.  Luckily, the recent period with light winds has been favorable to extending and improving fire lines around the Halstead.  Although this morning's InciWeb has not been officially updated, the Sunday Post-Register states the Halstead is now 35% contained, a gain of five percentage points from yesterday's figure.  That five represent could represent as many as 12-13 miles of new containment line along the Halstead fire perimeter.  Much of the containment lines are in the critical southern, southwestern and southeastern sectors.

The areas of the Halstead that might be most prone to growth during this two-day, so-called "wind event" are the areas in the far north, northeast and along the upper east portions of the fire line.  In the events the wind is coming hard out of due west, there will once again be concern about the integrity of the lines along the Yankee Fork and whether the fire will attempt to spot across the Yankee Fork.

Since the winds are progged to be blowing across and away from those lines, odds suggest the lines will hold.  However, high winds have a mind of their own and can be completely unpredictable at the surface level where topography and micro climate influences might produce any number of unexpected wind affects.

Imagine, if you will, a river flowing downstream.  Even though all the water eventually proceeds downstream, along the way it exhibits a wide variety of behaviors such as eddies, slack waters, boils, turbulence, chutes, rapids and undertow currents.  River water does not flow in an orderly manner and neither does the wind.  Ridgelines, valleys, mountains and other features affect the wind much as rocks, ledges and channel depth affect the flow of a river.  The wind can exhibit much the same behavior as river water with eddies, horizontal helical flows, swirls, and all manner of largely unseen behaviors.  In a situation where there is no fire, most observers to not notice such affects.  When fire is present, the winds affects can become quickly and dramatically apparent.

We will have continuous updates on what fire managers and NWS forecasters are calling the "wind event" that begins today.  We hope our trusty correspondents charge their camera batteries and keep their eyes on the Halstead today and tomorrow.



(Update @ 11:40 am 9/8/12) The Halstead InciWeb site was updated about 11:30 am today.  The fire's official burned acreage increased to 148,773 from 148,021 yesterday.  However, officials noted about an additional 1,600 burned on the interior of the fire perimeter.  There are 553 personnel - 7 hand crews, 27 engines, and 6 helicopters on duty.  The helicopter number dropped today to six from 8.  The fire continues to be served by three Type 1 helicopters.  These are the choppers that have carried the load of providing critical aerial support.

Here is what the InciWeb narrative has to say this morning:

"What Happened Yesterday: Aerial ignitions resumed between Mormon Bend and Sunbeam. This should reduce the risk of head fire and spotting across the Salmon River. Power was restored to the Boy Scout Camp after being inspected. Fire continued to approach the Cow Camp area northwest of Stanley where crews put in hand line to prepare for the fire to back down the slope. "Mop up," putting out smoldering logs and stumps, was continued along various portions of the fire and rehabilitation of fire line was begun. Control lines that have held for several days with hose lays and portable pumps are being broken down and rolled up. Other more active parts of the fire are approaching the Lost Packer Mine and Seafoam Guard Station. They continue to be staffed during the day with personnel who implement a fire suppression system of sprinklers around the structures. 

The fire did not cross Marsh Creek. The major objectives of preventing fire spread across Highway 21 and 75 remain a high priority. No structures have been damaged or destroyed. While the fire perimeter didn't change much, an additional 1,600 acres burned on the interior of the fire.

Air Quality: Stanley and Challis will not be impacted by smoke as they have been in previous weeks. The Trinity Ridge and Halstead Fires added less smoke to the region due to less active fire behaviors. The approaching thunderstorms will bring higher humidity and decrease active areas of the fire. Smoke dispersion from the expected high winds should result in a sustained green air quality rating through Monday.

The Plan for Today: Engines and crews will continue to mop up areas where fire has been held and rehabilitate areas that pose no potential for fire spread. Resource Advisors will make plans for the Incident Management Team to coordinate erosion control and necessary cleanup of dozer berms and hand lines around sensitive areas of trails, drainages, and creeks. Improvement of the hand line will continue near Cow Camp. Hand or aerial ignition may be used to safely and effectively make a control line that firefighters can hold over the next several days. Visibility will continue to be limited until the inversion lifts at approximately 1:00 in the afternoon.

Highway 75 Update: Traffic is flowing freely in both directions, but drivers are encouraged to slow their speeds as firefighters will be near the roadway during the day and into the evening. Fire may be visible from certain locations, and while many individuals may want to take pictures, the road way is narrow and has many curves with minimal turnouts available for parking."
---end of 11:40 am update---

(Update @ 6:40 am 9/8/12) The InciWeb site was updated sometime late last night to state that the Halstead Fire is now 30% contained, a 50% increase in containment from the Friday morning figure of 20%. On Thursday, September 6th, the official containment figure was listed as 7% as it had been for weeks.

The 30% containment figure is also cited by Halstead Fire Info PIO Mary Swinney in a Page 2 article in "The Post-Register" newspaper of Idaho Falls.   The last time we checked on the lineal distance of the Halstead Fire perimeter was about a week ago.  At that time is was 242 miles, roughly the same as the highway distance from Stanley to the south side of Missoula. The fire perimeter has grown since then but appears to remain in the 240-mile length.

The official "Glossary of Wildland Fire Terminology " as updated in July 2012 by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) uses the same definition for "contained" and "containment."  Contained and containment are defined as "The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread."  

A 30% "contained figure would indicate there are now approximately 70-75 miles of containment lines existing at various locations along the Halstead perimeter, with an increase of almost 25 miles yesterday alone.

We did seek clarification of those figures from Fire Info this morning and they are correct.  The containment percentages are released each evening about 6 pm so the increase was from Thursday night to Friday night.

In another intriguing development, this morning's "Post-Register" contains the following two paragraphs:

"In the Halstead Fire, crews continued to keep flames from crossing state Highway 75 on Friday.  They worked to protect power lines, infrastructure and the community of Sunbeam, fire managers reported. Fire managers estimated the probability of success in the battle at 80 percent."

We did check with Fire Info on the above statement.  Basically, what it means is that fire managers can't say there is a 100% chance they can keep the fire from crossing the highway or affecting the power lines.  There are still too many unknown variables and possibilities in the dynamic equation of fire behavoir with regard to the Halstead.  Fire managers have every expectation that will be successful in keeping the fire from crossing the highway but they simply can't guarantee there is a 100% chance of such success.
---end of 6:40 am update---

(Update @ 9 pm 9/7/12) There was a late Friday flare up.  The top photo shows what it looked like from a vantage point in the Yankee Fork.  Our correspondent who posted the photo speculates it might be in the Harden Creeks area.  Based on the correspondent's perspective, this is a very reasonable assessment.

In the bottom Google Earth screen clip, we show the Harden Creeks as they appear in the 9/6/12 Halstead Fire infrared perimeter map.  The 9/6 data, of course represents the 9/5 actual burn.  You can see there is very little fuel left in the Harden Creeks, certainly not enough to create a major blow up.  The danger would be that embers from this flare up could cross the river and become a "game changer."  That is the wild card that remains to be clarified.  As long as the flare up smoke remains small, it's unlikely a spot fire got out of control on the other side of the river.  However, as we have said and will continue to say, attempting to judge the location and extent of a fire from afar is fraught with inaccuracy.  While we might "think" the fire is in the Harden Creeks area, it could be someplace else entirely different.  What you read here is entirely our own opinion and NOT official information from Fire Info.

---end of 9 pm update---

(Update @ 3:30 pm 9/7/12)  Look at this one, would you?  Our Intrepid Ace of Diamonds Photographer, SG, sent this one along--it's the view to the east from Stanley and there's nothing there.  On a "normal" day people would yawn and say, "Yeah, there's nothing there, so what?"  However, those of us who have been transfixed by the daily drama blowing up into pillars of smoke, this is an amazing photo.  It's enchanting precisely because there's nothing there.  When was the last time anyone saw a photo like that?  July maybe?
THANKS, SG, you really have an eye for a news photo and this one qualifies.
---end of 3:30 pm update---

(Update @ 12:30 pm 9/7/12)  While we were looking at this morning's Halstead Fire Briefing Map, we couldn't help noticing the fire located fairly close to the very northern tip of the Halstead.  We checked with Fire Info about it and it's not part of the Halstead.  It's called the Merino and the Halstead Staff didn't know anything else about it except the burned acreage which is nearing 6800 acres as of yesterday.  The Challis Forest Service in Challis directed up to the Public Affairs Officer in Salmon, Amy Baumer.  We asked the following questions:  1)  Who's managing this fire?; 2) How many personnel and resources are assigned to the fire? and, 3) How much has it cost so far?  Ms. Baumer said she would make some inquires and get back with us.  She did check back as we were writing this update to say she hadn't been able to obtain the answers to our questions.  She indicated it might be Monday before she obtains the answers. We're also quite curious as to what would happen if the two fires burned together and joined. Would it then become part of the Halstead?  Below are three graphics to help you understand the location, extent and progression of the Merino Fire with respect to the current location of the Halstead.
 Above is the September 7th Merino Fire Progression map.  Click on the small graphic to get the king size version. Interestingly, today's Merino map doesn't show the proximity of the Halstead.
 Here's a snippet from today's Halstead briefing map.  The lower red area is the Halstead burning near Lost Packer Mine.  Below is a thumbnail of the full size Halstead briefing map.  We marked the Merino with the red "X."  It appears the two fires may perhaps be within less than 3 miles of each other at their closest points.
---end of 12:30 update---

(Update @ 10:45 am 9/7/12)  A minor mystery has been solved.  As you know from prior updates, we were concerned when we saw what appears to be the fire line across the highway and river near Sunbeam Hot Spring.  You can see it clearly again in today's briefing map.  In a phone discussion with Fire Info this morning we learned what should have been obvious:  the overnight infrared data gathering flight by NIOPS has such sensitive monitoring technology that their equipment picked up the heat "fingerprint" of the geothermal area there at Sunbeam Hot Springs!  So, naturally, the infrared map would show that little bulge straddling the highway and the river at that location.  Rest easy, the fire has NOT cross Hwy 75 or the river but the hot springs are obviously alive and well.
---end of 10:45 am update---

(Update @ 9:30 am 9/7/12)  Just as we speculated it might last night, the Halstead's containment figure jumped from 7% to a relatively whopping 20% this morning.  That's really Good News!

Last night the pilot car escort was discontinued at 8 pm so unrestricted two-way traffic is once again flowing on Highway 75 along the river.  That's another great bit of Good News.

This morning InciWeb update also stated, "No significant air quality issues are expected for the Halstead fire due to decreased fire activity and good smoke dispersion." And that's yet another piece of really Good News!

Congratulations Halstead Fire Fighters and Fire Managers for serving up a heaping helping of Good News this morning.

Here's the total morning InciWeb update: "What Happened Yesterday: The Halstead Fire is now 20% contained. Total acreage of the burned area is 148,021 acres within the fire perimeter. Burnout operations along Highway 21 and behind residences behind Cow Camp were successful. There was moderate fire spread to the north and east Firefighters continued structure protection along Yankee Fork and around the Lost Packer Mine.

The Plan for Today: Helicopters will continue to support ground troops working to hold the fire north of Highway 75 and Highway 21 and keep the fire east of Marsh Creek. Structure protection efforts will continue along Highway 75, Casino Creek, Yankee Fork, Sunbeam, Lost Packer Mine, and Seafoam Guard Station. Firefighters will work to establish control lines adjacent to Joe's Gulch to protect Stanley and the powerline. Fire managers will continue to monitor fire progression towards Loon Creek Guard Station, Diamond D Ranch, and Bonanza.

Air Quality: Winds helped clear the accumulate smoke out of the Stanley area late Thursday. No significant air quality issues are expected for the Halstead fire due to decreased fire activity and good smoke dispersion. The air quality advisory for Lemhi and Custer Counties remains in effect.

Highway 75 Update: As of 8:00 pm Thursday evening two-way traffic resumed along Highway 75 between Lower Stanley and Peach Creek (mile marker 206.6). Drivers are advised to continue to watch for potential debris along the roadway and increased amount of traffic with fire vehicles in the area."

There are 568 personnel, including 7 hand crews, 28 engines and 8 helicopters assigned to the fire.
---end of 9:30 am update---
(Update @ 9 am 9/7/12) Here's quite the pair to draw to since last night--a clear evening AND a clear morning back-to-back in Stanley!  We received a report that yesterday seemed like a "normal day" in Stanley.  Apparently, there were no huge smoke plumes flaring up on the various far horizons of the sprawling fire zone. There has been no fresh update of InciWeb for a half a day. The Fire Ops map and KML files are now a couple of days out-of-date.  We await fresh information with which to prepare further updates.
 Last Night.
This morning.
---end of 9 am update---

(Update @ 6:30 pm 9/6/12)  We're finally getting caught up after being totally "unwired" for two days.It takes awhile to review the various maps and narratives to begin to understand the current Halstead Fire situation.  The situation along the critical southern and southeast sectors of the fire remains "day-to-day."

Fire Info Staff says the fire has not yet burned south of the highway or the river.  The fire situation in those areas depends on whether fire fighters can quench spot fires.  Each day the fire continues to burn what little fuel remains north of the highway and river.  If firefighters can cool down those fire lines and make them less susceptible to throwing spots, they stand a good chance of winning The Battle of the Southern Sectors.

Today's cooler weather may have helped.  Stanley's high today was 66, about 10 degrees cooler than the high of the past few days.  After logging a low temp of 26 about 6 am this morning, it was still only 52 degrees at noon in Stanley with a lunchtime humidity of 38 percent.  The winds picked up for their normal 1-5 pm gusty period but dutifully laid back down around dinner time.

The Halstead is getting pretty active in the Marsh Creek drainage and up in the far north sector.  The eastern front has been quiet for quite some time now.  Even though the fire's official containment is still listed as 7%, as it has been for weeks, it's beginning to appear firefighters are in control, or nearing control, of the fire line area that could have posed the highest potential threat to the Stanley area itself.  Barring a sudden onset of high speed winds coming from the northeast, it would appear likely that the official containment percentage may increase within the next few days.

Spot fires are the big bug-a-boo along Highway's 21 and 75 and out in the far reaches of Marsh Creek.  Firefighters and their aerial support have so far been doing an outstanding job of keeping the spot fires in check.  The techniques to fight each spot fire vary according to terrain, fuel, prevailing weather and available ground and aerial resources.  Much of how the Halstead behaves in the days ahead will depend directly on the skills and resources successfully brought forth in the ever-changing World of Spot Fires.

Since we are using this article as an archive of the InciWeb updates, we have copied and edited three recent daily reports to include in italics below:

Thursday's InciWeb update stated the Halstead Fire grew about 2400 acres Wednesday with activity across the fire including Marsh Creek, Pinyon Peak and near Sunbeam. Firefighters continued Wednesday with the aerial ignitions behind the residences in the Cow Camp area and along Valley Creek Road to ignite small fires in a random mosaic pattern. This type of burning activity helps remove some of the fuels before the main fire front approaches. Firefighters also continued with burnout operations along Highway 21 to slow the fire spread towards the highway and powerline. Fire officials created a new division to focus on the activity in the north near the Lost Packer Mine. Firefighters were working to keep the fire from spreading west across Marsh Creek. They also continued to construct lines and keep the fire from spotting over Highway 75 and the Yankee Fork Road.

Thursday's plan indicated firefighters would monitor the Seafoam Guard Station and keep the sprinklers running on the Lost Packer Mine. As a dry cold front was passing through the area, the winds are expected to shift and come from the North and West Thursday. Firefighters will be "gridding for spots" which means they will methodically be covering the area outside of the fire perimeter to watch for spot fires and keep them from becoming established.

Wednesday's InciWeb update indicted the fire continued to spread north and east Tuesday and  was fanned by the winds. There were a few spot fires onto the west side of Marsh Creek that firefighters worked as soon as they were discovered. The fire is beginning to surround the Lost Packer Mine near Pinyon Peak. Firefighters continue to run sprinklers and attend to pumps to help keep the fire from the private land. Firefighters continued conducting burnout operations using both hand firing and aerial techniques, behind the residences at Cow Camp and along Valley Creek. These operations produced a large column of smoke that was visible from Stanley and from Highway 21. Helicopters were used to help keep the fire away from the powerline to Stanley. Additionally, there is quite a bit of unburned fuel in the Harden Creek area and there will likely be large columns and potential spotting as the fire moves further into that drainage.

Wednesday's plan indicated firefighters will begin working on rehabilitation plans for the Bench, Copper and New fires. Firefighters will also continue holding the fire north of Highways 21 and 75 with the assistance of helicopters. Firefighters will be continuing the firing operations in the Valley Creek area. They will also be working on securing some of the line that they established behind the residences near Cow Camp as well as the areas north and west of Sunbeam and Yankee Fork. Firefighters will also work on establishing control lines at the features near Joe's Gulch. They will continue to keep the pumps operational at the Seafoam Guard Station as the fire progresses that way. There was a Haines Index of 5 Wednesday. 

The InciWeb update released Tuesday, September 4th stated there was a spot fire that jumped Marsh Creek yesterday and grew to approximately � acre on the west side of the creek. Firefighters immediately began working on that spot fire to keep it from becoming established in the new area. The fire was not moving much in the Seafoam area. There was a large column and quite a bit of activity near Pinyon Peak Lookout. The fire made a strong push to the north and east as it burned through the bug killed timber. The fire is approximately � of a mile from the Lost Packer Mine. Firefighters ran sprinklers around the mine throughout the day yesterday. The Sunbeam area was cooling down and firefighters used helicopters to knock the fire down as it came up over the ridge tops near Highway 75. Firefighters also worked on burnout operations behind homes along Cow Camp Road and near the Valley Creek Mine. (EDITOR's NOTE: the strange symbol above was in the original report.)

Tuesday's plan indicated firefighters began working on rehabilitation plans for the Bench, Copper and New fires. The fire has reached Marsh Creek and firefighters will continue working on the spot fire and making sure other spots don't get established further west. Firefighters will continue to monitor the fire in the basin above the Lost Packer Mine and take action as necessary. Helicopters will be utilized for aerial reconnaissance and for cooling the fire that crests the ridge tops along Highway 75. Burnout operations will continue, especially in the Valley Creek area. Firefighters will use a combination of aerial and hand firing techniques and burn around the Valley Creek mine. (End of InciWeb reports)
---end of 6:30 pm update---

(Update @ 4:35 pm 9/6/12)  Halstead Fire Info said the fire  "has not burned on the south side of the highway or the river" near Sunbeam Hot Springs even though it appears that way on today's infrared map.  Apparently, there was an error in the way the overnight infrared data was depicted on the map.
---end of 4:35 pm update---

(Update @ 4:25 pm 9/6/12)  The latest fire perimeter KML data for Sept. 6th has not yet been posted so we are relying on screen clips from today's infrared map itself.  Two such clips are shown below.  The top clip shows the southeast sector near Sunbeam and the second clip shows the Joe's Gulch area.  Look for the word "Joes" in the second clip to get your bearings for the location of the Gulch in the lower screen clip.

The coloration used to denote yesterday's fire growth is a rather subtle gradation.  The darkest color indicates the most recent day's burn growth.  Click on the map legend at left for more insight.  If we are reading the infrared map correctly, it looks like there might have been some acreage burned on the south side of the Salmon River in the Sunbeam Hot Springs area.  We will quiz Fire Info about this later. (We checked w/Fire Info a few minutes later, the fire hasn't burned south of the highway or river.  See 4:35 pm update--apparently the map is in error.)

The final screen clip shows the fire grown since the end of August.  With September not yet one week old, the fire has already grown 18,913 acres so far this month.  The burned acreage total stands at 142,582 as of Thursday morning.  Currently, there are 557 personnel, including 7 hand crews, 28 engines and 8 helicopters assigned to the fire.


---end of 4:25 pm update---

(Update @ 4 pm 9/6/12) The current Pocatello Observations map shows some moderately gusty winds in the Halstead vicinity.  Interesting, the surface winds are shown to be coming generally out of the southwest.  Today's winds have been predicted to be coming out of the northwest and are currently shown on the Google wind map as coming from the northwest as well.  Mountain terrain and local factors can often influence wind direction at the actual ground surface level, as might be the case this afternoon.  Recent wind gust speeds have been 26 mph @ Pinyon Peak, 20 mph @ Cape Horn, 19 @ Bonanza and 18 @ Stanley.


(Update @ 3:50 pm 9/6/12) The so-called evacuation notice for the Casino Creek area residences has been lifted as of mid-afternoon Thursday.  We checked by phone with both the Custer County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) and the Halstead Fire Info Staff to confirm the return to "pre-evacuation" notice status.  Apparently, this means that owners and residents of those properties located in the Casino Creek vicinity will be allowed back into their homes.

Throughout the duration of the Halstead Fire there has been continuing confusion about the use of the words "mandatory evacuation."  Sheriff Stuart "Stu" Lumpkin told us in a face-to-face conversation August 23rd that the CCSO does not issue "mandatory evacuation" notices.  We confirmed that yet again this afternoon with another CCSO Staff member.  The Forest Service also does not issue mandatory evacuation notices and this was confirmed to us once again this afternoon by a Fire Info PIO.
---end of 3:50 pm update---
Note--If you are "new" to reading our Halstead coverage, the time gap in update coverage here is due to our taking a break for an annual Family Tradition: a tent camping trip to Jenny Lake that always takes place the day after Labor Day.  You can read more about the "back story " of that trip by clicking here.
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(Update @ 9 pm 9/3/12)  Sounds like the Halstead Fire survived another day without too much drama.  There might have been some flare ups in the Harden Creek area, perhaps up river along the highway corridor.  Chances are there have been some more "roll outs" as they call them at Fire Info.  That's why they have the pilot car working now.

All-in-all, it looks like we are taking a break at an OK time.  As has been the case for days, afternoon winds will pick up and be swirly & squirrely.  There's no telling which way the winds will blow each afternoon this week.  The quick action of the Type 1 helicopters and Hotshots have kept everything under control.  As the days pass, chances are they will get an even better grip on the fire lines in the critical southern and south east sectors.

As far as we can tell tonight, nothing dramatic happened in either sector today.  From reports we received throughout the day, clearly there were some "dicey" moments but it appears the fire crews and their aerial support kept it together today.

We would suspect this will be the "routine" of each of the next few days this week.  Unpredictable afternoon winds will cause a tense moments to occur.

Halstead fire crews and their helicopter support have tested their mettle in working together to deal with spot fires.  There have been 15 spot fires along along the Yankee Fork.  All have been successfully subdued.  As aerial operations managers and ground crews gain more confidence in their ability to work so well together, there's every reason to believe they can keep the Halstead from jumping the river and Yankee Fork.  That's the big key here.  If fire crews can hold the line along Highway 75 and the river, they will have won The Battle of the Southern Sector.  Nothing in any of the other sectors compares to the sheer drama of what's been going on in the Southern Sector.

With each passing day, it looks more and more like they have won that battle.  It's still truly too early to tell for 100% certain sure but the odds are beginning to swing in favor of the fire crews and not the fickle flames of the Halstead Fire.

One of the most telling snippets in this morning 11 am InciWeb update were these words, "Helicopters will be utilized for aerial reconnaissance and for cooling the fire that crests the ridge tops along the highway."

If the aerial assets can do their job correctly, the fire isn't going to be able to gain a huge head of steam like it has in the past down along the southern edge.  Once they can get a handle on the southern edge, the whole focus shifts to the the northern and possibly the western sectors of the fire.  Right now the far northern sector is becoming problematic.  However, from the perspective of Stanley and the Sawtooth, the northern sector is so far away it might as well be on the dark side of the moon.  It represents no danger whatsoever to Stanley and Sawtooth Country.

Based on the current weather forecasts, the Halstead Fire is likely to burn at least until mid-October.  That's when fire managers initially said it would be contained.  That means it will be contained when it snows.

We will be away from the computer for a few days.  We are taking our annual trip tent camping trip to Jenny Lake Campground. Our participation in this trip is mandatory. It's a long story.  If you really care to read all the details about the backstory you can do so here:

http://www.salmonriveridaho.net/p/about-us.html

We do not have anyone to fill in for us during this trip away from the computer.  Please use the page above entitled "Halstead Links" to keep informed about what's happened with the fire.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for your support.  Have a great evening and let's hope the next few days help "turn the corner" for the Halstead Fire.  Many Happy Cheers!, John Parsons, Idaho Falls.

(Update @ 5 pm 9/3/12)  While we were "out & about" today, fire managers lifted at least a portion of the closure on the Yankee Fork Road.  Here's how it was stated on InciWeb earlier today:

"The road closure on the lower two miles of Yankee Fork has been lifted. Property owners and mine workers can now access Yankee Fork via Sunbeam. A Forest area closure is still in effect which prohibits entry by the general public.
Custer County has lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Yankee Fork. Residents in the area are now under a 48-hour pre-evacuation notice.
The pilot car is still operating on Highway 75 between Lower Stanley and Peach Creek. Motorists are asked to not stop at any of the pull-outs through this 14-mile stretch. Pilot car operations will be evaluated on a daily basis depending on fire conditions."

Here's a situation worth noting.  We met in person with Custer County  Sheriff Stuart "Stu" Lumpkin on August 23.  He told us that the CCSO couldn't and wouldn't issue a mandatory evacuation.  The same thing has been repeated to us every time we've talked with anyone at the CCSO over the phone.  We remain confused about the usage of the words "mandatory evacuation" in the InciWeb updates.  Is it a mandatory evacuation?  And, if so, who is ordering and enforcing it?

---end of 5 pm update---
(Update @ 12:20  pm 9/3/12)  The overnight infrared data was posted up in KML file format for Google Earth.  We've created and marked up several screen shots here.  We can't say 100% for sure that we've deduced the source of yesterday's smoke plume but we're pretty sure we know where it was.  Likewise, we're fairly certain of the area that's kicking "roll out" down to Highway 75.  Nothing's official until Fire Info says it so consider this all speculation until someone confirms it.
 The map above is the fire perimeter as of September 2nd data (reflects burn growth on September 1st)
 The map above is the September 3rd infra data, collected overnight and representing yesterday's burn growth.  We have overlaid today's data onto of yesterday's data.
 In the map above, we colored in the new areas of yesterday's burn growth.    The largest growth is in an area Stanley locals know as "above Joe's Gulch."
 Here's is a closer look at the area that most likely caused the Sunday smoke plume.  A = Lower Stanley; B = Joe's Gulch and C = the area locally known as "above Joe's Gulch."  The outer red line represents yesterday's fire growth from the previous day's perimeter.
 Next, let's move down into the Harden Creeks area  There were five areas of growth there yesterday--three of them are back up the creeks against the prior day's fire perimeter.  The two of concern to Highway 75 are marked by an "X."  These are areasa that burned Sunday.
If you know that area, the slopes above teh road here are extremely steep.  We have drawn in the yellow arrows to represent the most likely vectors of what's called "roll out."  It wouldn't take much for a burning log or rock to cut loose up near the top and gain some serious velocity and momentum on its way down to the road!
Above is the map we prepared and posted yesterday when we were speculating as to where the fire might be burning.  A = "the area above Joe's Gulch" and C = the ridge tops in the Harden Creek drainages.  The unburned island represented by "B" was unaffected by yesterday's fire growth.
---end of 12:25 pm update---



(Update @ 11:20 am 9/3/12)  InciWeb was finally updated this morning shortly after 11 am.  There is no specific explanation of Sunday's large smoke plume that was visible fro Stanley.  Here is what the morning report has to say:

"What Happened Yesterday: The fire didn't move much in the Marsh Creek or Sea Foam area. There was some minor tree torching, which means trees burn from the ground up like matchsticks, as it creeped downhill. There was considerable activity in the Pinyon Peak area. The fire jumped over the ridge and made a push into the bowl where it is burning a stand of timber. The fire was progressing towards the Lost Packer mine. Firefighters also did aerial ignition that was visible from Highway 21. The aircraft dropped plastic spherical devices (PSDs) nicknamed "ping-pong balls" which are specially designed to start fire on the landscape in a random, scattered, mosaic pattern. This aerial ignited fire helps by burning some of the fuels before the main front of the fire reaches it. Firefighters were also holding the fire near Sunbeam. They found three more spot fires across the Yankee Fork road and were able to get on them before they grew. There was some rollout that was affecting Highway 75 yesterday afternoon. Roll out is where partially burned logs and debris fall off the ridges and into areas below. Yesterday, the roll out was falling onto Highway 75.

The Plan for Today: Firefighters will continue to monitor the fire in the basin above the Lost Packer mine and take action as necessary. Helicopters will be utilized for aerial reconnaissance and for cooling the fire that crests the ridge tops along the highway. Burnout operations will continue, especially in the Valley Creek area as firefighters try to make an area of black, and burned fuels that will serve as a line to hold the fire back. These burnout areas will tie into dozer lines help keep the fire away from the highway, private land and structures."


The pilot car escort on Highway 75 continues.
---end of 11:20 am update---
(Update @ 8:15 am 9/3/12)  If you put any stock in the forecasts of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, chances for rain anytime soon aren't looking good.  Below are the latest 6-10 day and 8-14 day temp and precipitation forecasts for the Nation.  Note that Idaho is progged as having above normal temps and below normal precip.  In the update below this one, we took a look at Stanley climate.  A normal September isn't exactly a wet month, logging an average of a mere three-quarters of an inch of rainfall.  AUgust was less than 50% of normal so, if September follows suit, we're not looking at any substantial precip at least for the next couple of weeks.





(Update @ 8 am 9/3/12)  We spent time this morning studying Stanley historical climate data.  Here are some factoids.

For August 2012 just ended, the avg. hi was 82.7 degrees and the avg. low was 32.1.  August 2012 precipitation (precip) was 0.25 inches (a quarter inch).

The long term avg. hi for August is 78.4 degrees and the avg. low is 34.0 degrees so this year Stanley was 4.3 degrees warmer than normal and 1.9 degrees cooler than normal.  The avg. precip for August is .59 so Stanley was more than 50% below avg. for the month.

July through the end of October is the driest part of the year for Stanley.  During that time, an avg. of 2.85 inches of precip is logged, or 21.6% of the annual avg. of 13.17 inches.

What about September?  The current month's avg. high is 68.6 and the long term avg. low is 27.2.  The highest temp ever recorded in Stanley for September was 89 degrees in 1988.  The lowest was +9 in 1985.

Avg. precip is 0.78 inches (just over 3/4 of an inch). The one day max precip was 1.00 inch on September 1st, 2000. Over the long term, September has seen months with no precip whatsoever.  In 1987, Stanley recorded a September precip of 3.10 inches, which included 5.5 inches of snow.  Avg. snowfall in Stanley for September is less than a half-inch.

On the long term, September typically has five days when precip greater than a hundredth of an inch falls but only two days when precip greater than a tenth of an inch falls.  Overall, precip in September is highly variable as the first graph shows.  The second temperature graph clearly shows the peak of heat of 2012 is past as temps begin their decent into the upcoming depths of winter.  The record low ever recorded in Stanley was -54 on December 23rd, 1983.

Click here to peruse all of the extensive climate data available for Stanley.


---end of 8 am update---

(Update @ 9:30 pm 9/2/12)  We received two photos from our Clayton area correspondent who travels the Hwy 75 corridor regularly.  The top photo is of Sunbeam this evening before the sunlight faded.  It's looking upriver from just before the bridge over Yankee Fork.  The smoking hillside would lie above Sunbeam Village.  The bottom photo is what Tj H titles "The New Basin Creek."  You may recall Tj H was the last known person to photograph Basin Creek before it was incinerated.  Thanks, Tj!

---end of 9:30 pm update---

(Update @ 4:15 pm 9/2/12)  SHortly after posting this update, we did receive a communication from Fire Info that stated, " It is definitely not along Highway 75."  It is between Lower Stanley and Sunbeam but its exact whereabouts remains unclear.  We ginned up yet another Google Earth map of the southern sector of the Halstead Fire.  There's really not much left in that area to produce a smoke column as big and black as what people are seeing today.  We're not speculating, per se, just pointing out the three areas of remaining unburned fuel outside of the fire perimeter as documented in the infrared flyover last night.  A = on top of and east of Joe's Gulch; B = an unburned island inside the existing fire perimeter; fuel remaining in the Harden Creeks drainages.  Naturally, there could be other fuel inside the fire perimeter that has not burned.

Based on the msot recent communication from Fire Info, that would seem to rule out area "C" in the graphic below.  Our source on the Yankee Fork does not see the same smoke column as is visible from the Stanley vicinity.  Distances can be very deceiving when viewing a smoke column.

---end of 4:15 pm update---


(Update @ 3:43 9/2/12)  We just received another photo from a new correspondent, SM in Lower Stanley.  THANKS, SM!  The photo is below and the note that was included with it appears below the picture.

"To compliment SG's photo - same smoke column taken from on the river in Lower Stanley at 3:20 p.m..  Helicopter is taking water out of tank set up at Four Aces/ bottom of Joe's Gulch.  Fire looks to be around/top of Joe's Gulch - controlled burn?  Hope so!!!"


---end of 3:43 pm update---
(Update @ 3:15 pm 9/2/12)  Looks like the Halstead is blowing up again on the east side somewhere in or near the Yankee Fork drainage.  We checked with Fire Info and they are meeting with the fire operations staff to learn more about what's going on with this smoke column.  It grew rapidly over the past hour.  Our Intrepid Ace of Diamonds Photographer, SG, has been right on top of it since the first smoke there started to fill the sky.  The photo here was taken at 3 pm, only a few minutes ago.  THANK YOU, SG.

We will post any information as soon as we receive it.  Stay tuned.

---end of 3:15 pm update---

(Update @ 10 am 9/2/12) The InciWeb site was updated not long after 9:30 am this morning. The time of Fire Info's updates varies and can be as early as 8 am or as late as 10 am.  Some readers may wonder why we republish the daily InciWeb updates here.  In case our readers haven't noticed, there are no archives that we know of for prior InciWeb updates.  What we are trying to do here is create not only a website that attempts to have the latest relevant news but also becomes a historical archive that can be consulted for future reference.  It will be possible to read how this fire evolved long into the future as well will keep this article available in its entirety for the foreseeable future. Although it may seem redundant to repeat the InciWeb updates here, it is the only way we know to assure their accessibility in future.

OK, with that said, the Halstead Fire's burned area is listed as 128,838 acres. There are 563 personnel, including 7 hand crews, 31 engines and 7 helicopters.

Here is what Fire Info has to say in daily update:


What Happened Yesterday: The moisture from the rain the other day didn't last long as the fire was active with columns of smoke visible from Highway 21 for much of the day. On the west side of the fire, it continued to slowly burn vegetation as it moved towards Marsh Creek. The fire area near Roughneck lookout was active late in the afternoon with some group tree torching. Group torching is where the fire preheats and then ignites several trees in a clump where they rapidly burn from the ground up like match sticks. In the area of the Seafoam historic guard station it was pretty quiet. There is well established fire in Bernard Creek with some spotting potential, which means the fire can put embers into unburned areas. Firefighters were in Loon Creek Guard Station and started the sprinklers around the Lost Packer Mine before moving back to safer ground in the afternoon. The fire in the Lightning Creek area didn't move much at all. The southeast side of the fire was the most active. It was very dry in the afternoon and a column of smoke rose out of the fire until winds out of the west sheared it off and tossed 12 spot fires onto the east side of Yankee Fork road. Firefighters worked on those spot fires with the assistance of helicopters and by last report, had all of the identified spot fires under control. Firefighters also did hand ignitions, conducting burnout operations in Valley Creek down towards the mine. Firefighters also used aerial ignitions in the area between Cow Camp, Valley Creek and Highway 21.

The Plan for Today: The firefighters will work today to keep the west side of the fire from crossing west of Marsh Creek. Firefighters will go in to the Lost Packer Mine area this morning and recharge the sprinkler system and fill the pumps with gasoline so the sprinklers can operate throughout the day. Firefighters will again use aerial ignition today between Cow Camp and Valley Creek and Highway 21. They also will be doing some hand firing, conducting burnout operations in Valley Creek towards the mine; working to keep it a low intensity fire and keeping the canopy intact. Crews will continue working the spot fires across the Yankee Fork drainage. Crews will be able to engage the spot fires safely today due to all of the burnout operations that they conducted over the past several days in the Sunbeam area. The crews can focus on the spot fires and not have to worry about the main fire because the fuels have already been reduced.

---end of 10 am update---
(Update @ 8 am 9/2/12) Yesterday was a pretty quiet day in the southeast sector of the fire until a stiff west wind came up late in the day and blew embers across the Yankee Fork which created nine spot fires on the east wall of the Yankee Fork canyon near Sunbeam.  Halstead fire managers aggressively attacked the spot fires with two Type 1 helicopters and three 25-person Hotshot crews.

The helicopters used Bambi Buckets and shuttled between the Yankee Fork dredge ponds and the spots fires.  The dredge ponds are a near perfect water source for use with the buckets as they are situated in a relatively open area with no nearby obstacles.  Likewise the ponds are relatively deep and filled with clear water.  The helicopters ended their short haul water drops shortly before 9 pm last night and returned to base at the Stanley airport.  Meanwhile, the Hotshot crews stayed on site through the night.

The fire did not spot across The Salmon River.  Highway 75 remained open.  There was no damage to the power lines.  The Yankee Fork Road closure remains in effect.

We realize many of our readers may not be familiar with The Land of The Yankee Fork; Type 1 helicopters,  or Bambi Buckets.  Therefore, we have put together an extensive update here for your Sunday morning reading.

First, let's take a detailed look at the lower Yankee Fork.  Just before the Yankee Fork joins the Salmon River at Sunbeam, it dives into a narrow, steep-walled canyon.  It is only a short distance between the sides of this canyon so the embers did not have to blow very far to start spot fires on the other side. Short comments are below each Google Earth screen shot of the canyon and the area above where the dredge ponds are located.
 This is a view looking "up canyon" as seen from across the Salmon River.  Sunbeam is noted near where the Yankee Fork joins the Salmon River.  The red lines are the fire perimeter.
This is a view looking "down canyon" as seen from high above the dredge spoil area.  The dredge ponds end where the canyon pinches in.  Sunbeam can be seen at the far end of the short but steep canyon.  Click any graphic to see a larger version.
This is a closer view of the "tightness" of the canyon walls.  Sunbeam is visible where the Yankee Fork Road appears to end up against the terrain on the other side of the Salmon River.  It is quite likely that the spot fires were located on the forested canyon wall to the left side of this graphic.
Here's a pilot's eye view of the dredge ponds as seen when flying north from the spot fire area.  Gold dredging began as soon as the canyon widened out enough to support the large and complex operation of the dredge.
Here we have a pilot's eye view looking downstream across the dredge ponds area.  The Yankee Fork itself is flowing on the right side of the dredge spoil area.
This is a view of some of the many dredge ponds as seen looking north (upstream) with the Yankee Fork located on the left of the dredge spoil area.

Now that you have a pretty good idea of the "lay of the land" there in that tight but short canyon between the dredge spoil and the Salmon River, let's take a look at the Type 1 helicopters that were most likely used last night as well as the famous Bambi Bucket.

From reports we received last night, it does not appear that the Erickson Sky Cranes were used in this operation.  Chances are the two helicopters shown below were the ones shuttling water from the dredge ponds to the spot fires.
 Both of these helicopters have been in almost continuous duty during their service on the Halstead Fire.
Below is a Bambi Bucket as photographed at the Stanley Airport. The name "Bambi Bucket" is actually trademarked but is often used to refer to other variants of helicopter buckets.  You can read the Wiki on them here.  We spent quite a bit of time this morning studying how the Bambi Bucket works and such a discussion would be far beyond the scope of this article.  However, if you are interested in such technical details, you will find a wide array of sources with a simple web search.  (Narrative continues below photo.)
We also found a wide array of YouTube videos depicting the use of the Bambi Bucket.  Here are three of the videos we think you mind find worth watching:

The first YouTube video is short--only 1:28.  The twin rotor helicopter shown in this video is NOT being used on the Halstead Fire.  The video is a very good close up look at how the Bambi Bucket fills.

http://youtu.be/Jfk8E7OSzHk

The second video is a pilot's eye view of filling a Bambi Bucket in a shallow stream and then flying off to dump the water on a fire.  Note that this video is NOT from the Halstead Fire and is reference only to show what it looks like filling a Bambi Bucket from the pilot's perspective. It is 3:42 in length.

http://www.youtu.be/JwUWuj0XOLI

Finally, we have a video that doesn't have anything to do with the Bambi Bucket.  However, it is such an excellent video we just had to include it.  It's long.  It's 8:35.  One of the pilots wears a GoPro helmet video camera.  The Erickson Sky Crane powers up on the tarmac and goes into duty on a fire.  The video has both perspectives from the pilot and a fire crew member on the ground.  Although this video is NOT from the Halstead Fire, it gives viewers a really good perspective of what it must be like from b oth the air and the ground during similar daily, ongoing operations on the Halstead.

http://youtu.be/FEpQZyf8Yug

Note that all photos above were taken by PIO Tara Ross and copied from the Halstead's Flickr account.  Tara is headed home to the Summit Fire Department soon.  We'd like to give her a BIG virtual round of applause for the great job she has done in photo documenting the Halstead Fire.  WAY TO GO, Tara!

---end of 8:35 am update---

(Update @ 7:15 pm 9/1/12) As you can tell, we've been taking a break from The Halstead today.  It's been seven hours without an update.  Well, it seems the winds came up again today as they are wont to do between late lunch and dinner time.  Our Ace of Diamonds Intrepid Photographer, SG, provided a late afternoon photo of the smoke action as seen from Downtown Stanley.

It appears there's some fire action happening down by Sunbeam.  We'd suspect it is under control down there.  There it still plenty of fuel and "anything can happen" are still the watchwords of the day but the Halstead fire managers appear to have pulled off a real coup in keeping the fire on the north side of the river and the west side of the Yankee Fork.  Let's all pray it stays that way.

The next few days are critical for that area.  If the fuels there can be consumed in an orderly manner under close Command & Control, the tide may well have been said to turn on The Blue Moon! It's truly too early to tell.  Don't count the Halstead out in the South East Sector just quite yet.  Anything can happen.

Here's SG's Photo Of The Day:

---end of 7:15 pm update---
(Update @ 12:15 pm 9/1/12) Halstead Fire Info Staff posted a couple of night photos taken last night by PIO Tara Ross.  Here is the text that appeared under this photo.  A topo map of the area is blow the photo. The "X" marks the Blind Creek area you see in the photo.

"This fire backing down the hillside in the area of Blind Creek off Yankee Fork road is doing exactly what they need it to do. The low intensity backing fire on the evening of 8/31 will help crews to keep to fire in check in that area. "



(Update @ 11:25 am 9/1/12)  Halstead Fire Info Staff put together a nice update to start the month of September.  We love the first words of their opening line, "The fire had a mellow day..."  The fire added 'only about 900 acres' and now totals 124, 892 acres.  Although 900 acres is a lot, it's a refreshing change from the four digit totals we have been reading for days.

The biggest news in this morning's report is that "There was no spotting across the Yankee Fork Road or across the Salmon River."  We can almost hear a collective sigh of relief as this news echoes acrosss Sawtooth Country.

The fire perimeter is estimated to be 242 miles of which only 7% remains contained.  There are 544 personnel, including 6 hand crews, 33 engines and 7 helicopters.  There are still four Type 1 helicopters serving the fire.  The others are Type 3 craft.

It seems that the "hard closure" is still in effect on the Yankee Fork Road.  The "hard closure" means that if any of the residents leave the area they will not be allowed back in.

Below are is the text narrative from this morning's InciWeb site:


" What Happened Yesterday: The fire had a mellow day and grew only about 900 acres yesterday. There are 242 miles of perimeter of burned area. The fire was still hung up in Marsh Creek on the west side of the fire which means it was still burning, but not advancing too quickly towards the creek. The fire north of Vanity Lakes is established in the Silver Creek area. Firefighters turned on the sprinklers that they put around the Seafoam Guard Station and wet down the area around that structure to protect it from the advancing fire. A spot fire was discovered over Pinyon Peak Ridge and is in alignment to burn towards Lost Packer Mine. There is a canyon of trees leading up to the mine so firefighters used a sprinkler system around the mine as well. With the help of firefighters using some firing techniques, the fire burned the upper two-thirds of the slope above Highway 75 which makes it safer and lessens the chance of fire coming down to the roadway. There was no spotting across the Yankee Fork Road or across the Salmon River. The fire in Lightning Creek is still burning into the old 2006 Potato Fire burn area. Firefighters also worked around the Stanley Creek Road area and have established line around the Doc Day cabin.

The Plan for Today: The firefighters will work today to keep the west side of the fire from crossing west of Marsh Creek. It has reached the creek in a few spots and the plan is to use the creek as a natural barrier to hold it. Firefighters will go in to the Lost Packer Mine area this morning and recharge the sprinkler system and fill the pumps with gasoline so the sprinklers can operate throughout the day. Firefighters will also monitor the fire in the Ibex and Lightning Creek drainage and make sure it doesn't go around the 2006 Potato fire burn area into other stringers of unburned fuel. Firefighters will also be working in the Harden Creek and the Sunbeam area to keep the fire from crossing the roadways. Firefighters will continue working along Stanley Creek and around the Doc Day cabin to tie into established fire lines and roadways and ultimately tie into Anderson Creek."

---end of 11:25 am update---
(Update @ 8:10 am 9/1/12)  As of 8 am on September 1st, Highway 75 is OPEN with NO pilot car and NO restrictions. (From InciWeb).  Drivers are cautioned that fire crews and helicopters may be working in the area.

This is good news for drivers, of course, but even better news for Stanley & Sawtooth Country since it means there appears to be no threat to the power lines at this time.  If they are letting traffic flow unescorted through the previous closure zone, it's highly unlikely there is any imminent danger to the power lines.

We called the CCSO and the dispatcher said she didn't know if the lifting of the Hwy 75 closure affected the  hard closure on the Yankee Fork Road.  She said she hadn't heard anything and said to check back later.
---end of update---

(Update @ 6:10 am 9/01/12) Overnight data shows Cape Horn received five one-hundredths inch of rain and Pinyon Peak two one-hundredths.  A Stanley resident posted on Facebook about 10 pm last night that is was "pouring rain." but the Stanley weather data site did not show any precipitation received. This is typical behavior with scattered thunderstorms.  One area may get dumped on while another nearby area may remain dry.  It is not known if any rain fell on key Halstead Fire areas.  Chances for thunderstorms in Sawtooth Country today are less than yesterday.  A drying trend is forecast is next week is progged to be dry with above normal temperatures.  The NWS make no specific wind forecast in this morning's discussion.
---end of 6:10 am update---
(Update @ 5:55 am 9/1/12) Halstead Fire Info posted up the photos below last night after we logged off early for the evening.  Theywere taken by Craig Daughtry and show the fire as seen from Yankee Fork Rd near SunBeam on 8/30.

---end of 5:55 am update---

(Update @ 7:30 pm 8/31/12)  Tara Ross, one of the PIO's at Fire Info, has a knack for getting air time in a helicopter and coming back with great photos to share on the Halstead's Flickr account.  Today she posted up some photos of "The Great Wall" and especially Mount Loening which is perhaps the Alpha Peak of  "The Great Wall."  We have discussed this area in much detail in prior updates but never knew fire managers had dubbed it The Great Wall.  We can't find that terminology anywhere else so we're guessing it's a brand new label for this area.  In her photo captions, Tara has this to say, "The natural landscape around Mount Loening often referred to by fire operations as "The Great Wall" on the North Eastern flank of the fire has been a help in keeping the fire in check in that area."

The first photo below is awesome.  It's one taken by Tara of Mount Loening and posted on Flickr today.  After seeing that photo many hours ago, we've been trying to assemble some maps to help you understand the role of The Great Wall in the Grand Scheme of the Halstead Fire.  Captions are below the graphics.
 Yep, it's pretty easy to see why the fire stopped when it hit The Great Wall.  We searched far and wide online and couldn't find a better photo of Mount Loening.  What a majestic landmark!
 This is one view of how the Halstead Fire line simply can't breach The Great Wall.
 This is another view.  A = Cabin Creek Peak; B = Mount Loening and C = the Hecla Mine on the Jordan Creek Road north of Bonanza in The Land of The Yankee Fork.
Finally, here's an Acme topo map of the area.  The red line represents The Great Wall and the "X" marks Mount Loening.  Great work, Tara!  THANK YOU!

(Update @ 6:15 pm 8/31/12)  The winds are starting to lay down.  There's be no reports of fire smoke plume drama this afternoon.  We have received photos showing at least four different smoke plumes but none of them going ballistic like that have been doing lately. (We will post up those photos within the next 60-90 minutes) We've also received reports there hasn't been any real rain in the fire zone.  The NWS people have been saying today the moisture in Nevada might make its way into the Central Mountains tonight. Below are two current screen shots from NWS Doppler radar.  The top shot is from the Elko, Nevada, radar and the bottom shot is from the Pocatello radar.  (the maps overlap in the Jerome/Twin falls area) Wouldn't it be great if we got incredibly luck and one of those big cells in Nevada somehow found their way to the Halstead.  Well, there's always hope!

---end of 6:15 pm update---

(Update @ 4:50 pm 8/31/12)  We received a request late this after to make some maps showing the Yankee Fork "hard road closure" area.  We also realized it's time to post a vicinity map showing the relationship of the fire to the overall region. Comments are below each graphic and the photo.
This is a general vicinity map of the fire.  The yellow line is the area subject to the "hard closure."  The bottom, of southern point of the line would be at Sunbeam Village where the Yankee Fork Road "T's" into its intersection with Hwy 75.  A = Stanley; B = Sunbeam Village (left of the "B"); C = Redfish Lodge; and D = Challis.  (All lettering approx.)  We end the upper (north) end of the yellow line at the approx location of Bonanza.
In the photo above, we have a much closer look at Sunbeam VIllage.  Yesterday the fire burned to within less than a half mile of the Sunbeam Village "complex."  A portion of the fire appears to have burned down to the Yankee Fork Road.  Those of you who travel this road know the area immediately north of Highway 75 to be a steep-walled canyon.
In this graphic, Stanley is shown and the fire camp is at the "X."  A = Mormon Bend campground; "B" = Sunbeam Village and "C"= Bonanza.
Our last visit to Sunbeam Village was on August 21 about 3-4 pm. At that time the road closure barricade was located on the north end of the Sunbeam Village parking lot.  At that time, resident, mine workers and other local people were allowed to come and go.  We would presume this barricade point is much more heavily staffed today with the "hard road closure."  We received a report as many as 20 fire crew rigs were staged at the Sunbeam Village parking lot today.
During our brief August 21 trip to Sunbeam Village, the skies briefly opened up and let loose a welcome mini-pour.  We certainly hope that happens again today.  Pray for Rain.  Ironically, Sunbeam Village has been undergoing a Renaissance of sorts.  Proprietor Doug Fenn has really been doing some great things with Sunbeam Village.  He leased one of the buildings to Ketchum's Shannon Orr and she really brought the Sunbeam Village Grill back to life in a big way.  It's so very sad that everything at Sunbeam had to get shut down and now the very existence of the place hangs in the balance of fate before the fire's fickle flames.

Click here for our article on the Sunbeam Village Grill--what a great thing Shannon had going!
Click here for our short article on Suubeam Village--hang in there Doug!
Click here for our short intro article on Sunbeam
Click here for the accompanying article on Sunbeam Dam
And, finally, click here to take a look at the Yankee Fork confluence with the Salmon River.
---end of 4:50 pm update---
(Update @ 4 pm 8/31/12)  Here's a screen clip of the latest Pocatello NWS radar for eastern Idaho.  We've been watching the activity build all afternoon both on the radar and the awesome Sawtooth Camera. Click here to watch the latest 10 scene loop--it's a perfect way to see the cloud buildup over the Sawtooths.
http://www.sawtoothcamera.com/slideshow2.html
We are currently working to process some very informative photos from our SG, Ace of Diamond Photographer.  Due to the increasing cloud cover and lack of contrast, it's unlikely we will get any late afternoon fire photos as the smoke blends into the clouds and is very difficult to see.
---end of 4 pm update---

(Update @ 1:50 pm 8/31/12) Custer County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) Deputies are going house-to-house in the Yankee Fork drainage this afternoon advising residents to evacuate the area.  We spoke with the CCSO to confirm this report.  Our CCSO source said the Office cannot issue mandatory evacuations.  They can only advise people to leave because the fire has reached the Yankee Fork drainage.  It is not known at this time how many residents have been contacted or how many have left.  At least one household of the area has so far decided to stay put.  Deputies are also notifying residents that a "hard road closure" will now be in effect on the Yankee Fork Road.  That means if residents leave, they will not be allowed to go back until the area has been determined safe for entry.  With a hard road closure, no one except fire crew and public safety officials are being allowed to travel the road.  As our source at the CCSO told us, "if residents choose to stay in the Yankee Fork, they are on their own."

Meanwhile, earlier this afternoon, one civilian individual did travel the Yankee Fork Road to Sunbeam and then turned right and traveled unescorted to Stanley.  This individual reportedly saw approx. 20 fire rigs at Sunbeam and perhaps another 60 staged along Highway 75 on the road to Stanley.  The crew may possibly be staged there should the fire make a run to the road and river.  (Bear in mind this is an anecdotal, unconfirmed report believed to be from a reliable, credible source.)
---end of 1:55 pm update---
(Update @ 1:20 pm 8/31/12)  As of last night's data, the Halstead Fire has cost $15.4-million.  Our last post on the first cost was Sunday when it was at $11-million.
---end of 1:20 pm update---
(Update @ 12:30 pm 8/31/12) The Google Earth KML files haven't yet been posted so we clipped the Halstead Fire infrared map to show the difference between Wednesday and Thursday fire growth in the active southeast area.  The map legend is below the two graphics.  Wednesday's IR map is on top and Thursday's is below.




(Update @ 9:35 am 8/31/12)  The InciWeb site was updated a few minutes ago--here is what they have to say this morning:

"The fire was again active on Thursday. The fire was still slowly backing and moving towards Marsh Creek area on the western side of the Halstead fire. In the Vanity Lakes area, the fire has crossed over Silver Creek. There was significant activity in that area which has been relatively calm for several days. The fire around Pinyon Peak stood up early Thrusday morning, well before noon, and produced a large column that could be seen from Stanley. The fire was also extremely hot and intense in the Lightning Creek drainage. On the east side of the fire, we saw the fire front continuing to push into the 2006 Potato fire burn area. While the vegetation changes in the old burn area, the Halstead fire front continues to be persistent and burn in that vicinity. Firefighters used aerial ignitions on Thursday to try to burn up some vegetation slowly before the main fire reached it. The fire is slowly backing into Harder Creek and there was quite a bit of smoke in that area throughout Thursday.
The fire grew more than 7000-acres Thursday. Firefighters continued working along a 2-mile line right above Highway 75 using air resources to keep fire in check. Firefighters continued burnout operations along Noho Creek so they can tie in to the roads in the area. Firefighters tried to do burnout operations along Stanley Creek Road, but the winds picked up and they had to stop those operations. The burnouts are areas are all pieces of the forest where the firefighters light the vegetation on fire and work with it so it can burn and remove the fuel from the main front of the Halstead Fire. That way, when the fire reaches those burned areas, there won't be any vegetation ant that will slow the fire down.
The Plan for Today: The firefighters will work today to keep the fire on the west side from crossing west of Marsh Creek. Firefighters will also burn around the Seafoam guard station on the northern part of the fire. In the Valley Creek area, firefighters will work to keep the fire from burning onto private land, and depending on the weather, they may have to conduct burnout operations in that vicinity. Firefighters will also have a continued presence in the Yankee Fork, Casino Creek and Sunbeam hot springs and work to keep point protection around the structures. Firefighters will be working along the Harden Creek area as they don't want the fire to get away as it starts to come out of that drainage. Firefighter's efforts along Highway 75 include keeping the fire from spotting across the roadway or across the Salmon River and becoming established on the other side. They also will be installing another heliwell at Mormon Bend. Heliwells provide a ready water resource for helicopters to dip from to use to cool the fire line in the areas the firefighters are working. Firefighters will also focus their efforts on Stanley Creek road and making an anchor point, or a spot along the fire line that is secure, meaning the fire won't be able to sneak around and burn other areas outside of the perimeter. Firefighters will be watching the Pinyon Peak area frrom the air and will insert firefighters if the fire begins to make an additional push to the northeast."

---end of 9:35 am update---
(Update @ 9:05 am 8/31/12)  What might we expect today?  Yesterday's burned acreage total was reported at 116,850.  Chances are the fire grew in several areas and we'd guess the acreage total might edge closer to 120K when reported today.  Fire personnel yesterday stood at 550, including 6 hand crews, 35 engines and 6 helicopters.  Personnel numbers have stayed mostly steady between 500-600 for many days so we wouldn't expect much change in that figure or the other numbers.  Chances are the afternoon winds will once again be a factor.

Perhaps the biggest questions (among many) looming on everyone's mind are A) Has the fire jumped the river?  B) What's happening in the Yankee Fork?  C) If the fire hasn't jumped the river, what is the danger of it doing so in the windy afternoon ahead?  D) How secure are the power lines?

On our part here at Salmon River Idaho, we're wondering what plans the NIMO team might have if the fire jumps the river.  There are no roads to speak of on the SNRA side of the Salmon River and there's a much denser stand of beetle-killed trees on those north facing slopes alongside the river.  We hope the Fire Info people attempt to address some of those questions and concerns in their InciWeb updates today.

Since the NIMO Team took over fire management August 1st, the InciWeb site's front page second paragraph has stated the same words, "The fire is under a suppression strategy. Firefighters are using a variety of strategies to manage the fire, including direct attack, indirect attack and point protection. A mix of these strategies will be used to protect values in the fire's path in a combination that provides the best chance of being successful while minimizing firefighter exposure to risk. The goal of the incident management team is to manage the Halstead Fire in such a way that there are no serious injuries or fatalities, no critical values have been adversely impacted and the public and cooperators are supportive of fire management operations."

The day before the NIMO Team took over the fire it was said to have burned 5,047 acres.  It's now over 20 times that size.  We remain curious as to how the August growth of the fire currently fits into "a suppression strategy."
---end of 9:05 am update---
(Update @ 8:25 am 8/31/12) After posting the historical perspective update below, we contacted the Salmon River Electric Co-op in Challis.  Power to Stanley & Sawtooth remain on all day yesterday.  The lines remain intact and unharmed this morning.  As one of the Operations Staff said, "Everything's the same as yesterday."  He did indicate the USFS could call at any time to request a cessation.  SREC has not yet received any communication from the USFS regarding the electrical power situation.  As we noted yesterday, the primary reason the USFS might request such a situation would be to protect fire crews and/or helicopters that might otherwise be working in close proximity to live power lines.  The lines themselves are intact, unharmed and doing their job of delivering power to Stanley & Sawtooth.
---end of 8:25 am update---
(Update @ 8:15 am 8/31/12)  We fielded a query posted last night concerning our reference to the first Halstead Fire smoke plume on Monday, July 30.  The fire was ignited by lightning on July 27th.  Here is how the fire was initially reported by Reporter Todd Adams in "The Challis Messenger" August 2nd issue. (Reprinted here verbatim in italics as it appeared on the front page of the newspaper.)

"The fire grew to 60 acres after being spotted on Friday, July 27, and Saturday norning saw 14 smokejumpers arrive on initial attack with help from three helicopters and three Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs).

At first, smokejumpers thought they could catch the fire while it was still mall and they would be able to secure the heel of the fire and establish a small safety zone.  But it continued to spot long and short distances and was active overnight into Sunday.

Sunday morning, Middle Fork Ranger Chris Grove walked the fire with smokejumpers, who said they no longer thought it was possible to slow growth at the head of the fire or that the initial suppression strategy would be successful.

The safety zone was small and route tenuous because escape by firefighters relied on helicopters, as did fire operations and logistics plus medical evacuations.  As the fire grew, so did damages and officials thought putting more people on the ground would only increase the risk.  So the incident commander, ranger, fire management officer and forest supervisor switched to a new strategy.

A NIMO (National Incident Management Organization) team took over from local officials Wednesday, August 1, with 200 personnel assigned."

Part of the first paragraph of the story stated the Halstead Fire "...blew up and rapidly spread from about 60 acres to 3,700 on Monday afternoon."  That's when we photographed the smoke column from the Stanley Ranger Station parking lot.  Prior to Monday afternoon, the Halstead Fire had not produced one of its signature blowup smoke columns.  We hope this helps clarify the reference to July 30th.
---end of 8:15 am update---

(Update @ 7:55 am 8/31/12)  After completing the update below, we put in our morning call to the Custer County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).  The dispatcher had just come on shift.  She said she was told Highway 75 was closed.  We asked whether that meant closed with a pilot car or "just closed."  She replied, "just closed."  If yesterday is any indication, the road may or may not be open during the day with a pilot car.  Although it was officially listed as "closed," one of our Stanley observers said he say traffic moving that was clearly from down river--semi-trucks loaded with rocks from the East Fork quarry.  Likewise, the clerk at Jerry's Store said a pilot car was in operation.  The bottom line right now with Hwy 75 is that you might not really know the situation until you drive up to the barricade.  It's probably not a good idea to make assumptions about the status of Hwy 75.

After we scoped out the two paved alternate routes the other night--the 625-mile route over Lolo Pass and the 250 mile route through Arco-Carey-Ketchum, we were called to task because there is a shorter route over the Trail Creek Road into the backside of Sun Valley.  We traveled that route many a time during the four summers we volunteered out at Bowery Guard Station at the south end of the East Fork Road.  It's definitely a theoretical route but one we would characterize as for "locals only."  We definitely don't think the Trail Creek hill coming down in Sun Valley is appropriate for trucks and large motorhomes.  However, that route exists for anyone who really has to get from the Sawtooth Valley back over to Round Valley and beyond.

We will periodically make inquires about Hwy 75 today.
---end of 7:55 update---
(Update @ 7:40 am 8/31/12) Today's winds might mimic yesterday's with perhaps a stray thunderstorm cell thrown into the daily weather mix.  Most of Eastern Idaho is under a Red Flag condition but the warning area does not include the Halstead Fire area.  The SW winds of the past few days have allowed fire managers to conduct burn out operations in the Cape Horn portion of the sprawling fire zone.  PIO tara Ross, Summit Fire Dept. took the aerial shots below on Tuesday.  Similar operations have been conducted during the week.  We also put in a clip fro yesterday's fire ops map showing the layout of the Cape Horn area.  We suspect the black line on the map depicts a containment line and will seek clarification of that this morning.

In the official Glossary of Wildland  Fire Terminology, "contained" and "containment" actually have identical definitions: "The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread."

The extensive glossary is a product of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) and is located here: http://www.nwcg.gov/pms/pubs/glossary/index.htm

The Halstead has been listed a 7% contained for many days now.  We would guess that number will tick up a few points today or in the days ahead as the burn out operations are completed in various areas of the fire.




---end of 7:40 am update---

(Update @ 7:15 am 8/31/12)   Here is the latest smoke product produced yesterday by the Halstead Fire smoke specialist. Click on the graphic for a larger, more readable version.
Note: White space above is part of the graphic.
---end of 7:15 am update---
(Update @ 7:35 pm 8/30/12)  It was a month ago this morning when the Halstead Fire threw up its first truly large plume near the ignition point 18 miles from Stanley.  We happened to be camped at Sunny Gulch the night before and took the photo below from the Stanley Ranger Station parking lot looking north that afternoon.
Little did we know 30 days later we'd be sitting here glued to the computer making updates on the fire several times each day.

Little did we know that our August 9th article on the
Halstead would have thousands upon thousands of page views.

Little did we know we'd meet new Friends through Facebook and elsewhere who would become observers, photographers, writers and  commentators about the fire.

The past 30 days since we took the photo at left have been a roller coaster of riveting, saddening, frustrating, and ever captivating experiences.   When the first news of the fire hit the media in early August, one fire guy was quoted as saying "This fire won't be put out easily and it won't be put out early."  Oh, how prophetic!

As the weeks have turned into a month since the Halstead sprung to life at the head of an obscure creek not far from Cape Horn, our collective consciousness has begun to change in ways none of us perhaps even realize yet.  Perhaps we wonder to ourselves, "How will this affect the future of Salmon  and Sawtooth Country?"  Perhaps we begin to ask ourselves each day, "Will this fire ever end?"  Of course it will. All forest fires end some day.  This one will end, too.  Nobody's yet invented a fire that can burn through the winter's snows--unless it is in a cozy woodstove, of course.

We'd like to take this opportunity to put forward some positive energy about the future.  We believe Salmon & Sawtooth Country will survive this fire just as they have survived fires over many millennia--with great class and style.

We believe the people of Salmon & Sawtooth Country will rise to the challenge and beam ever brighter optimism and hospitality for all those thousands who seek their annual solace, recreation and joyous fun where the majestic mountains and righteous rivers come together to create such a special place.

Yes, it's difficult to look past the daily drumbeat of dire fire news.  It's so confusing to sort through the cacaphony of conflicting reports. It's hard to see the forest for the flaming trees.  It's tough to take as a vast chunk of Idaho's playground burns to the ground in front of our eyes.

Let's be clear here--No matter what the outcome of this wild fire is, the Fans and Friends of Salmon & Sawtooth Country will overcome and prevail.

We believe the people of Salmon & Sawtooth Country will rise from the ashes of this event with renewed vigor and dedication to this awesome place.  Yes, it's been nicked but it's not gone.  It will still be just as wonderful and beautiful as it's ever been.

The mountains will still awe, the rivers will still rush, the vistas will still enchant, the air will still be clear and sweet and the blue birds' song will still stir our hearts.

As these dark days of fire fog our spirits and hurt our hearts, we must not forget there is still and forever a special magic alive in Salmon & Sawtooth Country.  It is a magic that lives far beyond the fingers of any fire.  The magic and splendor of Salmon & Sawtooth Country cannot be dimmed by a mere smoke plume or a swath of blackened beetle-killed trees.

Let us remember these realities during today's trying times.  Let us remember that "these things, too, shall pass."  As Earth, Wind and Fire meet together to fan the flames of their eternal relationship, let us reflect on why we love this place and know that it will be just as special and just as dear as ever with the dawn of each and every new day.

Many Cheers, John Parsons, Idaho Falls
----end of 7:35 pm update on August 30th, 2012---

NOTE:  All of the Halstead updates older than two days are being moved to a separate article entitled "Halstead Update Archives."  The original article was simply getting too unweildy in size to be able to update.  We will generally keep only the current day and the most recent day's updates in this article. You can find ALL of the prior updates in their original form here:

http://www.salmonriveridaho.net/2012/08/halstead-update-archives.html