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Smiley Creek and Alturas Lake Evacuated Due to Fire
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The Ross Fork Fire has blown up in the past few days. COURTESY: Sawtooth National Forest
   
Monday, September 5, 2022
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

A Level 3 Mandatory Evacuation notice was issued Sunday evening for all campgrounds and cabins in Sawtooth City, Smiley Creek and the Lake Alturas area due to increased fire activity fueled by extremely windy conditions in the area of the Ross Fork Fire.

Those in that vicinity were told to leave immediately.

“Level 3 Means GO! The danger is current or imminent to your area. DO NOT delay to gather belongings. Entry to evacuated areas may be denied until safe,” the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department advised.

 
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The Forest Service has provided this map of the Ross Fork Fire.
 

The Blaine County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Forest Service had issued a Level 1 pre-evacuation notice earlier Sunday, and smoke from the fire could be seen growing to the west and north of Ketchum Sunday evening, although no smoke could be smelled. Highway 75 was closed five miles north and south of Smiley Creek due to the fire and no detour was made available.

The Ross Fork Fire stated a few weeks ago near Alturas Lake but showed little activity until this week. It  started burning more actively on Thursday in dry, hot, windy conditions, gaining at least 300 acres and sending smoke into the Wood River Valley. The fire grew from 1,300 acres on Aug. 31 to more than 1,900 acres on Sept. 1. By Sunday afternoon it had grown to 5,450 acres and was 5 percent contained, according to officials with the Sawtooth National Forest.

It was pegged at 6,010 acres by Monday morning and officials were alerting people to a new fire near Pine/Featherville that had closed Highway 20.

The Forest Service reported Sunday that more resources have been ordered to fight the fire. Helicopters have been assisting with the fire but were grounded on Saturday due to strong winds. Firefighters are providing structure protection for homes in the area.

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