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Wildfire Along U.S. 26

DREW NASH • TIMES-NEWS BLM and Dietrich Fire District work on putting out a brush fire along U.S. Highway 26 at mile marker 188 Saturday, July 5, 2014, near Dietrich.

RICHFIELD • Monday’s 715-acre Colorado Gulch Fire west of Hailey comes on the heels of a large fire near Richfield and a smaller blaze near Stanley.

Crews expected to control the 5,008-acre Pagari Fire northeast of Richfield by 6 p.m. Wednesday. The fire started at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and was contained late Sunday night, said Kelsey Dehoney, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The delayed control time is due to dry conditions and forecasts of thunderstorms. No structures were threatened during the blaze, and its cause is still undetermined, Dehoney said.

Elsewhere Monday afternoon, firefighters were moping up and securing the fireline around the Hell Roaring Fire, which burned about 325 acres near Stanley. Crews expected to have the blaze fully contained Monday evening.

In all, 158 personnel responded to that fire, along with two helicopters, two engines and miscellaneous support personnel. No structures were lost or threatened, and this fire’s cause also remains under investigation.

Most trails, campgrounds and recreation sites in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area remained open. An area closure remains in effect, though, on the west side of Idaho 75 across from the Williams Creek Trailhead, which includes the Hell Roaring Trail and the southern portion of Forest Road 210 from Hell Roaring through Decker Flat, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

Meanwhile, BLM investigators have confirmed that a vehicle sparked a string of fires that burned more about 190 acres in Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument last week, Dehoney said.

Investigators still are trying to determine whether the starts were the result of negligence, she said, but they could not confirm witness reports that a truck was dragging chains along Bell Rapids Road, starting the five blazes.

The Hagerman Fossil Beds fires and fire suppression efforts spared both fossils and sections of the Oregon Trail that wind through the area, Superintendent Judy Geniac said. But the fire did burn an entire set of “fire restoration seed islands” planted this year to re-establish vegetation lost in a 2010 wildfire that burned more than 75 percent of the park.

Hagerman High School students replanted the area where damaged soils and seed sources hampered the plants’ ability to recover naturally. A recently secured $25,000 grant to complete the project likely will be used now to renew that effort, Geniac said. The park plans to apply for three years of federal funds to help with restoration, she said.

BLM law enforcement officers also still are investigating the cause of three mid-June blazes in the Dietrich area, which originated within 3 miles of each other and threatened homes and other structures. The blazes burned more than 4,800 acres.

The BLM is asking for the public’s help in identifying the cause of those fires. BLM spokeswoman Heather Tiel-Nelson said she would not speculate if the fires were the result of arson.

Law Enforcement Officer Lisa Schutzberger said she received no calls after a BLM publicity push last week asking for tips. Those with information about the fires should call Schutzberger at 208-735-2069.

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