RICHFIELD • Firefighters were lucky to escape with their lives Wednesday as a wildfire overtook and destroyed a Richfield Fire Department engine.
The firefighters were responding to a 27-acre blaze at milepost 176 on U.S. 26/93 when it became high-centered on a rock pile then stuck in sand, Fire Chief Mike Swainston said.
Crews did “everything they could,” he said. “We’re lucky we didn’t lose anyone.”
Swainston said he had not contacted the department’s insurance company, but the truck was worth a little less than $300,000.
“As far as I’m concerned, equipment can be replaced; people can’t,” he said.
The fire was started when a truck lost its tire and its bare rim scrapped along the asphalt, flinging sparks into the nearby brush, said BLM spokeswoman Kelsey Dehoney.
BLM and Richfield firefighters were mopping up the blaze at presstime and were expected to have it controlled late Wednesday night, Dehoney said. The BLM sent three engines; no structures were threatened.
After a Tuesday evening shift in winds that caused the Preacher Fire to burn more than 2,000 acres and close U.S. 26/93 for several hours, crews gained ground on the blaze aided by lower temperatures and mild winds.
That wildfire, located south of Carey, is estimated to have burned 33,000 acres making it the Magic Valley’s largest fire yet this year.
The fire is 40 percent contained, said BLM Incident Commander Brian O’Donnell. Crews are still working to secure fire lines and mop up hot spots, Dehoney said.
The BLM expects to contain the blaze on Thursday at 6 p.m. and control it at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Firefighters also worked to contain a 22-acre wildfire started by lightning on Tuesday 7 miles from the City of Rocks National Reserve. The fire is not active and BLM crews are working to secure the fire line and mop up the area.
The BLM expects to contain that fire tomorrow night and control it Saturday night.