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Grassy Ridge Fire is a long way from being contained

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Fire damage from Grassy Ridge Fire. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

DUBOIS — Winds and thunderstorms continue to feed the Grassy Ridge Fire, but it’s not all bad news.

Firefighters continue to battle the fast-moving fire that has consumed over 106,000 acres of brush and grassland, threatened an Idaho town, forced its evacuation and killed dozens of cows. However, Mother Nature has given firefighters a slight edge over the fire, for now.

Great Basin Team 3 Division Supervisor Ken Wright said the fire is currently having to fight against the wind in the northeast corner which is giving firefighters the opportunity to get out in front of it.

Grassy Ridge Fire near Duboise. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

Wright explained they are concentrating most of their efforts on the northeast corner because that is where the fire is most active.

He said much of the smoke coming from different areas, other than the northeast corner, is coming from “fuel islands.” These islands are sections of unburned grass and sagebrush surrounded by land that has already burned.

Thus far, the Grassy Ridge Fire is 20 percent contained due to firefighters efforts and partly because the fire ran into the Red Road Fire scar that burned earlier this month. Fire officials say they don’t have any idea how long it will take to contain the active blaze, but it could be awhile. Especially if the weather continues to be dry and windy.

EastIdahoNews.com got the chance to tour the Clark County Road section of the fire Sunday. From that vantage all reporters could see to the east was charred wasteland. To the north there was also blackened earth, but brush could still be seen in the distance. Smoke from the northeast corner was visible. Within minutes during the tour the fire in that area appeared to grow rapidly.

Bonneville County Fire District tanker truck on it’s way to fill up with more water. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

Fire damage from Grassy Ridge Fire. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

Saturday night, efforts to keep the fire away from Dubois were successful. Wright said crews are working to make sure that section of the fire doesn’t start up again and threaten the town.

He said one of the biggest worries is the possible thunderstorms predicted for Sunday evening in the area.

“The thunder cells were sitting right over this fire every day,” Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kelsey Griffee said. “With those thunder cells comes gusty, outflow wind. Very erratic winds that propel the fire in multiple directions.”

The fire, which started on Thursday, has consistently shown erratic behavior due to thunderstorms and wind.

Map of Grassy Ridge Fire. | Jay Pence, U.S. Forest Service

During the tour, multiple semi-trucks pulling empty cattle trailers headed down the road as ranchers worked to get cattle out of the way of the fire and into cattle trailers to be transported to safety.

“Last night, with the way the fire was moving, we had a major effort to get ranchers in — all the cattle owners in to load up their cows and get them to a safer location,” Griffee said. “At this point, we don’t have confirmation on how many were lost, but it’s looking a lot better than we originally thought.”

RELATED: Rancher describes anxious efforts to save cattle from raging fire

Griffee said the success they’ve had in fighting the fire comes from the help of many groups.

“I can’t say it enough, our county, local volunteer fire departments, Camas Peak RFPA (Rangeland Fire Protection Association) have just been incredible at fighting this fire,” Griffee said.

The north-east corner of the Grassy Ridge fire grows. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
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