TWIN FALLS • Fire Capt. Stacey Thomas of the Rock Creek Rural Fire Protection District has one simple request: Be smart about controlled burns.
Since Tuesday, Rock Creek has responded to two wildfires that began from controlled burns, including one Wednesday afternoon that threatened about a dozen homes and prompted a voluntary evacuation of the Hidden Lakes subdivision near Dierkes Lake.
The blaze started about 3 p.m. and quickly spread through the brush within the subdivision, consuming between 60 and 80 acres, Wilson said.
Crews from Rock Creek, the Twin Falls Fire Department and the Salmon Tract Rural Fire Protection District responded to the blaze. Excavators dug outside of the perimeter to create barriers and eliminate fuel sources.
Though crews acted quickly, shifting winds flared the flames and brought them dangerously close to houses. Ultimately, none were damaged, though the fire claimed a corral and a service pole.
While firefighters worked to save homes on the front line of the fire, neighbors pitched in with shovels and garden hoses.
Jody Johnson came to her friend Dr. Mark McKain’s home, where she watered down the dry brush on the edge of the lawn.
“I just couldn’t let his house burn,”Johnson said.
To the west, gawkers hoping to see the fire and residents trying to get back to their homes tied up roads, stalling emergency vehicles.
But some of the bystanders offered their help. Near the north side of the fire, Ashley Brackett and Amber White had originally come to get a closer look at the flames, but stopped at a house with no one home and turned on the sprinklers.
“We saw it was getting close,”said Brackett, 24, as she hosed down the perimeter.
By 5:45 p.m., crews had contained the blaze and were mopping up, Wilson said.
One thing that may have helped save homes from flames at Hidden Lakes:Smart landscaping. The subdivision is a Firewise Community, adopting practices intended to protect homes should a fire approach.
As the blaze neared one home, Twin Falls Fire Chief Ron Clark pointed out landscaping elements that would help slow the flames, including a lawn and plenty of space between the structures and sagebrush. Though the fire came close to the home, the structure remained undamaged.
“That’s what homeowners need to keep in mind,”Clark said.