JEROME • A blaze that started from a fallen electrical wire kept fire crews busy Saturday north of the canyon rim.
The fire, called the East Devil’s Corral Fire, started about 1:40 p.m. south of Interstate 84 between the Devil’s Corral and Vineyard Lake and, fed by winds and dry brush, quickly spread across Bureau of Land Management property toward the interstate in one direction and the canyon rim in the other, said BLM spokeswoman Kyli Gough. By 5 p.m. the fire had burned about 525 acres, she said, coughing because of the smoke that drifted over the area.
Witnesses who reported the fire found one of three high-tension power lines on the ground, said Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall. It was undetermined early in the day if the downed line was human caused or caused by Mother Nature.
“It could be natural,” he said, “or it could be vandalism. It’s still too early to tell.”
Later that evening, McFall said it was possible the wire could have fallen after being weakened by gunshots. He said he didn’t know if the alleged gunshots were recent or not. Idaho Power Co. is investigating the damage.
BLM, Jerome Rural Fire Department and First Segregation rural department crews all were called in to fight the blaze. A BLM helicopter also was helping to put out the fire.
The fire had earlier in the day pretty much burned itself out, McFall said. But afternoon winds eventually caused it to spread. Crews had a difficult time getting to some burn areas because of depressions in the canyon landscape that engines couldn’t access. The helicopter helped.
McFall was at one point concerned about smoke cutting visibility to drivers on I-84, he said, but the road remained opened.
“It’s pretty much burned up to the freeway,” he said. “Traffic is moving slowly.”
The fire at one point approached the David Ehlers home in the area, but crews worked hard to make sure the blaze didn’t reach the structure. It did, however, eat up a hay or straw stack, McFall said. No other structures were threatened in the area, he said.
The fire was 80 percent contained by about 5 p.m. Full containment was expected by 10 p.m. Saturday.
“I imagine we’ll be watching this one well into the evening,” he said.