Smoke is blanketing the Wise River area from the Alder Creek Fire burning just seven miles west of town, and the Type One fire crew in command has increased its manpower and resources and is getting ready for a long, hard fight.
“We’re getting more resources in, so we’re building our ability to work on this fire,” said Southern Area Incident Management spokesperson Todd Schroeder.
The fire was first reported on July 8 and grew to the point that dozens of homes in the area are threatened by the fire and have been evacuated. Authorities want to be proactive in getting people out before the fire spreads to their homes.
“If the fire shifted all the sudden and came down and I still had all the folks in that, then I’d have to fight getting them out and fight the fire as well,” said Schroeder.
Many people were still evacuating by clearing valuables from the homes, getting supplies and gassing up vehicles on their way out of town. Employees at the local store say it’s heartbreaking seeing their neighbors evacuate.
“We just keep watching and hoping and praying that the wind doesn’t shift to their houses, it’s awful. Like the one house up there they lost their dad last summer and this year they might lose their house, so it’s rough,” said Wise River resident Danette Enrooth.
Sean Larson said his home is less than a mile from the fire, but he’s grateful he and his family are able to evacuate safely. He said he’s grateful for the firefighters and he’ll be fine if they can’t save his home.
“If they don’t, that’s what insurance is for, but we got everybody out, all alive, and I told those guys, I says, ‘don’t hurt yourself trying to save my land,’ it’s always rebuildable,” said Larson.
Crews are ready to protect the homes if the fire gets too close; they have containment pools full of water and they can pump water from the pool up to the homes, sprinkle water on the grounds, or put water directly on the fire.
“We have set up that structural protection around the homes that have been evacuated and I think we’ll be in good shape to defend those homes,” said Schroeder.