S. Idaho wildfire causes evacuations

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 2:56 PM


ELBA, Idaho -- Elba resident Clair Teeter stood on his property Wednesday, his eyes scanning the mountain where a wildfire raged.

Pieces of his farm equipment lay smoldering in the blackened prairie grasses, periodically bursting back into flames.

Farther down the lane the small Durfee family cemetery had escaped the fire’s fury. Nearby, a half dozen horses, nostrils flaring and wide eyes glued to the fire, nervously paced around a corral.

Teeter’s home, miraculously, was still standing.

"When I first drove up it looked like the house was gone and there was fire streaking across the road," Teeter said.

Firefighters from the Malta Fire Department and Teeter with a garden hose were able to save the home where he and his wife, Judy, live west of Connor Creek Junction.

"The most important thing is the house is still here and everyone is safe," Teeter said.

The fire started around noon Wednesday, burning about two miles east of Elba, according to the Twin Falls District Bureau of Land Management. About 910 acres were scorched by evening.

Cassia County Sheriff Randy Kidd said after a visit to Howell Canyon, officials determined that evacuation of the canyon was not needed.

Fire officials estimate containment of the fire at 7 p.m. Thursday. No control time has been set.

The fire burned private land as well as BLM and a portion of the Sawtooth National Forest near Connor.

Due to erratic wind shifts the fire was considered to be running, burning mostly grass, brush and juniper.

The cause of the fire was not known but fire investigators were at the scene.

"I was in Albion when I heard about it and it took me about seven minutes to get here driving as fast as my Duramax would go," Teeter said.

Malta Fire Commissioner Rick Neff, who was helping fight the wildfire, said when the fire truck came down the lane to the Teeter home the flames fanned across the road 12-feet high.

"We had to turn around and come in another way," Neff said.

Teeter knew a pasture on the west side of his home was well-grazed and would not burn, so he drove through the fire to the pasture and grabbed a hose.

"I drove through it at about 40 mph," Teeter said.

Teeter was able to move some of his vehicles and equipment to the safety of the pasture, but one trailer was left behind in the turmoil. It was consumed by flames.

Malta Fire Department and ACE (Albion, Connor Creek and Elba) Fire Department battled the blaze along with other fire crews.

According to BLM, there were eight engines, one water tender, two dozers, 4 SEATs, five heavy air tankers, one helicopter, a lead plane, air attack and other various overhead personnel.

Teeter’s neighbor, Ken Knight, worked to smother smoldering wooden rails circling the graves in the little cemetery.

"I came over to get some water on the graveyard," he said.

Teeter’s neighbor, Brent Sainsbury, dropped off his dozer to help dig fire lines.

"It got pretty frantic here a little while ago," said Sainsbury, wiping his brow. "Neighbors have got to help neighbors."


)2012 The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho)

Visit The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho) at magicvalley.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Sign up for e-mail news updates.