Idaho Fire Season - Photo Essay

Lightening ignites fire above the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Around mile 60 on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, a plume of gray smoke stood out on the horizon. As we rounded the bend, the source of the smoke revealed itself - a hillside wildfire. A low-intensity burn (at that moment) and ignited by lightening. Given it's location in the Frank Church Wilderness, it's free to do it's job.

National Helitack Salmon Idaho

I caught up to the National Helitack Crew based out of Salmon, Idaho while overnighting in Stanley, Idaho. Early that day, they jumped a fire started by - get this - some guy roasting a hotdog over an open fire. Apparently the wind swept a spark into his camp and ignited a bunch of fuel including his truck.

Firefighters gear lies ready

The crew flew out of Stanley a couple of times during the day and the next morning. The weather continued to be hot and dry with lots of lightening bouncing off the surrounding mountain peaks.

Smoke fills the canyon within the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

In the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness which this portion of the Middle Fork flows through, fires are either suppressed or allowed to burn to achieve the resource benefits as stated in the Wilderness's Fire Management Plan. This plan allows lightening-caused fires to play, as nearly as possible, their natural ecological role. The purpose of this is to reestablish the role of fire in perpetuating natural ecosystems within the Wilderness. Fire mosaics resulting from these fires will enhance wildfire habitat and esthetics over the long term.

Salmon Helitack Crew loading up for flight

Helitack lift off

Helitack takes off to monitor a new wildfire

Flames flare up along the hillside within the Middle Fork of the Salmon River