Friday, Feb 03, 2023

Fire in the Valley!


error ignited as fire swept over the hills in Arbon Valley at about 3:00 P.M. Saturday, August 21st. The fire started at the Lee Baily homestead and was quickly contained and thought to be almost extinguished when a spark from the fire jumped almost 800 yards to start a fire in the wheat stubble to the North.  High gusting

 winds spread the human caused fire straight into the adjoining CRP and stubble fields. Within minutes, tractors from all over the town were seen descending from the valley fields, water trucks were driving in from farm sites and meadows, and the county road crew was mobilizing to defend Arbon from the fire.

The valley’s farmers and ranchers were quick to move with tractors and discs, which helped to tear firebreaks in the thick sagebrush and grasses. The Power County road grader was also seen stripping a wide path of vegetation away from the huge flames exploding in cedars and sage.

BLM, planes, helicopters and Fort Hall firefighters were on the scene shortly after being notified of the blaze. BLM requested some homes be evacuated, including Frank and Loretta Johnson, Blake Johnson and daughter Cheyenne, and the Jake and Breanna Evans family. Jeff and Sheri Stewart and Renae and Willard Bradly were told to be packed and ready to leave as the fire headed toward Rattlesnake. However, all were able to return to their residences before nightfall.

The fire took a northeast path along the east side of the valley, heading up into the Rattlesnake area. Along the way to Rattlesnake it raced up several draws and canyons destroying all vegetation and cover. It’s unlikely that this good deer hunting area will recover for many years. One area rancher believes the fire to be much larger than reported by the local papers. By his estimate it burned 8,000 to 10,000 acres of land.

Thanks to the quick response of the neighbors and fire fighters, the fire was contained by Monday, August 23. Dying winds and a rain showers helped to quench and control the intensity of the blaze. BLM crews remained until Sunday August 29th at a fire camp set up at the intersection of England Road and Arbon Valley Highway to mop up hot spots and monitor any remaining problem areas.

Here is a collection of pictures taken by a few different sources.