Fire officials discuss progress on Badger Fire with residents at public meeting

Rock Creek residents request for more timely information in advance as fire progresses
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 9:17 AM MDT
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HANSEN, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) -On Monday evening, the Great Basin Regional Incident Management Team, Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and the Rock Creek District Fire District held a public meeting in Hansen by the Rock Creek General Store with the residents of Rock Creek and Dry Creek to discuss their progress in fighting the Badger Fire, which officials said has been blazing since September 12.

Jim DeMaagd, a forest supervisor with the USFS Sawtooth National Forest, told residents there are two things he has never seen before on this fire: " One, I have never seen a fire grow that fast in a matter of hours".

As of Monday morning, fire officials said the fire was 25 percent contained and had eaten up more than 89,000 acres. Great Basin Team 5 incident commander Sam Hicks said the fire has been difficult to contain due to dryness and strong winds.

“What is happening right now is the fuel conditions are in record level dryness. The energy release components, everything that they measure, are setting records for the driest in history,” Hicks said.

The incident commander also said smoke from wildfires in California and Oregon has also made it tough for them to bring in air support to fight the fire.

“The visibility was poor, so we had very limited access to aircraft. We got lucky on Saturday. The air cleared up, and we were able to bring in two super scoopers,” Hicks said.

As of Monday morning, officials said there were more than 300 people fighting the fire, and residents at the meeting gave the fire officials in attendance a round of applause for their response in fighting the fire.

DeMaagd also took time during the public meeting to acknowledge the work and response of the Rock Creek Fire District, and the support they were getting from the community.

However, some of the residents of Rock Creek who were evacuated from their homes this past week and were able to return Sunday morning, are a little frustrated with the agencies and their communication with daily updates and progress with the fire.

“So when we had the evacuation order on Friday morning, which was confusing, we realized they just have to do better at keeping us informed as fires progress,” said Day Egusquiza who is a Rock Creek resident.

Lisa Jacobi said she was a little frustrated too because her daughter came and told her at work that she had to evacuate her Rock Creek home, and she felt residents were given no prior warnings.

At the meeting, Egusquiza offered fire officials the suggestion of creating a “1-800” number that people can call into to get immediate updates on the progress of the fire and if people need to evacuate their homes. Egusquiza also said the agency’s webpages are not “updated timely”.

At the end of the meeting, residents had an opportunity to ask fire officials questions, and one of the questions was if they knew what the cause of the fire is. DeMaagd said at this time the matter is still under investigation.

At the end of the day, a lot of people just wanted to thank the men and women fighting the fire for all their hard work and saving their homes. As of Monday Rock Creek Fire chief Aaron Zent said there were no reports of any homes being damaged or destroyed by the fire.

“I honestly can’t believe they did it. I love them. Anything you need I will help you,” Jacobi said with tears in her eyes.

Copyright 2020 KMVT/KSVT. All rights reserved.

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