Drone footage shows aftermath of Lavaside Fire; officials warn of ‘odd’ conditions this year
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FIRTH — Last week brought some nervousness and worry to Firth residents as the Lavaside Fire quickly spread from fields to a rural section of the community.
But instead of panicking, the community came together to help those displaced by the fire and support those working to quell it.
The Lavaside Fire started around 3 p.m. on April 21 and was finally contained at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, thanks to the efforts of multiple fire departments and districts.
No one was injured in the fire, but there was some significant damage. Drone video sent to EastIdahoNews.com from Jared Christiansen shows the fire area in Firth. His video on his YouTube channel can be viewed here.
“You just don’t have fires like that in April.”
The Lavaside Fire was unusual for this time of year. Typically, fire season in eastern Idaho doesn’t start until late May or June.
“We’ve had some pretty good fires that we have helped with, but we haven’t had anything that has taken off this big this early in the year,” Shelley Fire Chief Randy Adams said. “You just don’t have fires like that in April.”
U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials estimates the fire burned a total of 1,200 acres. The fire is believed to have been caused by a controlled burn that spread into a wildfire, but no official reports have been made so far. No official estimates on damages have been released either.
Part of the area burned was 700 North in Firth, and most of the damage occurred there. Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland confirmed one house and trailer were destroyed in the fire, with one other house severely damaged and multiple buildings receiving minor damage.
Adams explained that 2021 has been unusually dry, which created ideal conditions for this type of wildfire. He said that many people who have been performing controlled burns for years have been surprised by how quickly those fires are spreading now.
Firth Fire Chief Dale Mecham attributed much of the Lavaside growth to wind patterns, starting from north to south, but switching from south to north.
Both Adams and Mecham advise residents to be wary this year, particularly if residents are doing a controlled burn.
“We need to be very careful burning out there. The conditions this year are absolutely odd,” Mecham told EastIdahoNews.com.
Residents who want to do a controlled burn are advised to inform their local fire department before they begin.
“There is so much grass and vegetation around, it’s not gonna take much to light everything up,” Mecham said.
“They just went the extra mile”
Not all the consequences of the Lavaside Fire were negative. An emergency like this created an opportunity to serve others and eastern Idaho stepped up.
Emergency responders were blown away by the support of the community.
“I have been in the fire business for 27 years,” Adams said. “The support we got from the community was just amazing. They just showed up at that staging area (and) had water and food and everything.”
Citizens brought so much food, Adams had to get a trailer to haul it around to all those who were helping fight the fire.
“That really touched us how that community was willing to support,” he added. “They have no idea how much that helped.”
Emergency responders ended up with way more food and supplies than they needed.
“The biggest thing (to come from this) was the people coming together to deliver food and water to the firefighters,” Rowland said. “I had to send out a message to stop bringing stuff because we had too much.”
Rowland said along with delivering food, many people that lived region came to help clean up in the aftermath of the fire. Mecham said this type of camaraderie is what is wonderful about eastern Idaho.
“This was just unreal. They just went the extra mile. It was amazing,” Adams said.