Thick smoke blanketed the foothills and the air smelled like a campfire as the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
issued an air quality index of "moderate" July 16.
The smoke settling in the valley came from nearby wildfires, including the 1,600-acre Whiskey Complex
. A National Incident Management Team took over the fight on the morning of July 16, but will continue to work with the Garden Valley Fire Department. The same team descended on the Boise National Forest last year to fight the Elk Complex Fire, and the year before that for the Trinity Ridge Fire, according to David Olson, public information officer for the Boise National Forest.
The fires have caused an area closure near Placerville, Centerville and Pioneerville. The Hot Springs Campground has also been closed. Banks to Lowman Road remains open, but smoke-filled.
The Whiskey Complex is made up of the Wash, Grimes and Calder fires. The Walsh fire, burning at 970 acres three miles east of Garden Valley, triggered a voluntary evacuation, but firefighters have reduced the threat to homes by burning fuels in the immediate area and building a fire line. The Grimes Fire, burning on 270 acres five miles east of Garden Valley, prompted a voluntary evacuation of 10 homes near Pioneerville. The Calder fire is burning on 260 acres four miles east of Garden Valley.
Firefighters are struggling to beat steep, inaccessible terrain as well as high temperatures, windy afternoon conditions and very dry fuels.
No estimate of containment has been established, Olson told Boise Weekly
A map of the closure area is available below:
Meanwhile, in the Twin Falls District, the Preacher fire
, southwest of Carey, exploded to 31,000 acres. BW
reported on July 15 that the fire was burning on 7,000 acres. With 104 personnel working the fire, it's currently 30 percent contained and is estimated to be fully contained by Thursday, July 17 at 10 p.m.