CASTLEFORD • While the main body of the Kinyon Road Fire blazes southwest of Twin Falls, the heart of the action remains in Castleford.
Fire officials began setting up headquarters at the Castleford High School on Monday. While staying at the school, officials will be able to dispatch crews, divvy up resources and catch a quick shower.
And supporting the fire crews were the residents of Castleford. Maintenance workers came in to help prep the school for the fire crews. A nearby sign for a bar welcomed the firefighters and advertised $3 margaritas.
“We want the firefighters here,” said Winson, owner of King and Hart’s Bar and Grill. “We don’t want our town to burn down.”
The severity of a wildfire’s damage remains raw to Dana Winson, who recently lost her house to fire in May.
As of Monday evening, the Kinyon Road grew to 190,000 acres in less than three days. The fire southwest of Castleford has jumped a defensive line at Saylor Creek Road and onto the Saylor Creek Bombing Range operated by Mountain Home Air Force Base.
Bureau of Land Management officials don’t expect the fire to threaten homes but they aren’t ruling anything out yet, said Chris Simonsen, fire manager officer for the agency.
The fire is believed to be 25 to 40 percent contained, with no estimate for full containment or control, Simonsen said. Fire officials believe the fire could grow to cover up to 250,000 acres before it’s completely stopped but that could change depending on weather patterns.
Monday, the wildfire was among the largest in the nation — behind fires in Montana and New Mexico.
“The weather hasn’t been our friend,” he said. “It’s been that it’s warm all day and then there might a down draft wind that really pushes the fire. That’s how it’s grown so big.”
With 220 crew members currently fighting the blaze, the small town of Castleford is seeing an uptick in activity, said Stephanie Gonterman, an employee at the Corner Merc and Castleford resident.
“There are a lot more unfamiliar faces,” she said. “We have a lot of people coming in and buying water or Gatorade.”
Her home wasn’t one of the few structures threatened during the early blazes on Saturday but her neighbors have been expressing concern over the fire’s damage.
“We got a few people who are worried about grazing and their cows,” she said.
Located at the high school are several semi-trucks providing resources for firefighters and personnel working to coordinate efforts on the fire.
Lee Devaeke contracts with the BLM to provide portable showers and sink stations across the country. In less than 24 hours, Devaeke was called from working in Colorado to move to Idaho.
“I got here at 4 a.m. this morning, I had less than two hours of sleep before I had to move,” he said.
Devaeke will stay with the crews until he’s called out to the next fire.
As crews begin to settle into the town, both fire officials and locals can’t help but notice the similarities this year has with the 2007 Murphy Complex fire.
“There are lots of parallels with this fire season and 2007,” Simonsen said. “But we’ve been bracing for this kind of fire all year.”
Ed Kinyon works as the maintenance director for the Castleford School District. He helped clean and prep the building five years ago when firefighters used the school to battle the 650,000 acre wildfire.
“The amount of fire activity already happening this year is just like 2007,” he said.
“And it’s only early July.”