Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Erratic winds fan Power Line fire near Arbon Valley

**This news is by Debbie Bryce for the Journal**

The massive wildfire reported on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation on Wednesday afternoon is now listed as 10 percent contained.

Fort Hall Fire Chief Brian Briggs said the blaze, which is located in the Starlight Creek area of Arbon Valley, has burned more than 4,000 acres.

However, as of 6 p.m. on Thursday, Briggs said no evacuations were issued.

Firefighting resources from the Idaho Falls District Bureau of Land Management, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Power County and Chubbuck fire departments assisted tribal resources.

Briggs said the short turnaround time for refill at the tanker base at the Pocatello Regional Airport made air support an effective tool in limiting the spread of the blaze.

The Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center reported that officials underestimated the size of that fire on Thursday morning, which was mapped at 3,106 acres.

However, officials expected the fire to be fully contained by Thursday evening.

Fire activity was minimal throughout Thursday and was mainly confined to interior areas, where heavy fuel pockets continued to smolder.

The cause of the fire in Arbon Valley is still under investigation, but officials said on Thursday that the fire most likely resulted from lightning that passed through the area several days ago. The wildfire is burning primarily in grass and sage intermixed with pinyon and juniper trees.

Minimal personnel will continue to monitor the blaze and patrol the perimeter until the fire is completely out.

As of Thursday, there are 14 fire engines, one helicopter, four dozers and one fire crew on the scene.

The Lone Pine Fire, which was caused by lightning and burning about seven miles northeast of Fort Hall in the Ross Fork Creek area, is listed as contained but not controlled.

Between 1980 and 2015, the region has averaged about 40 wildfires each year with an average of almost 54,000 acres burned each year, according to the Eastern Idaho Regional Fire Center.

However, acres scorched this year have already exceed the 2015 numbers.

Last year, 1,380 acres were burned by wildfires in East Idaho, compared to 5,147 this year. So far this year, human-caused fires have scorched 782 acres in the region.

In 2016, more than 600,660 gallons of flame retardant has been shipped out of the air tanker base in Pocatello.