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More homes evacuated as Alder Creek Fire grows

FIRE WISE RIVER .jpg
Posted at 10:16 AM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 12:42:10-04

WISE RIVER —  An ominous plume from the Alder Creek wildfire looms over homes off of Highway 43 that’s forced police to evacuate more people and firefighters to step up their defense of home and property.

“One of the points of emphasis for the firefighting crews is to continue to build control lines, do strategic firing operations and keep it corralled from moving any closer to Highway 43 and threatening those structures,” said Southwest Incident Management Team Public Information Officer Tim Eling.

“Basic firefighting strategy is to try to deprive the fire of fuel, the trees, vegetation growth,” said Eling.

This wildfire and the Trail Creek fire burning west of Wisdom has caused heavy smoke to settle in the Wise River Area and officials are considering possibly moving the fire camp to another location.

“When you have a lot of smoke you’ve got conditions that hamper firefighting efforts, health considerations. Just down at the end of the camp there’s a heli-base with helicopters and if it’s too smoky where those helicopters are they can not fly,” said Eling.

The crews are working on a fuel break along the Scenic Byway next to Wise River. They’re cutting off the low branches and cutting them into mulch, so if the fire comes out this way, it’s not going to get up into the trees.

“Basic firefighting strategy is to try to deprive the fire of fuel, the trees, vegetation growth,” said Eling.

Fire crews also need fuel and many Wise River area residents, like Donny Speer, are trying to help them by keeping them fed and supplied with the water they need. Speer runs The Big Hole Pizza Co. by converting a firetruck into a kitchen where he makes pizza. He and other residents plan to host a pizza day where they will provide free pizza to the firefighters.

“I see the guys coming out of the hills especially the past three days where the fire has escalated and they’re just completely haggard, they’ve been out there 16-18 hours straight and it’s hot and coming out of the mountains at 12:30 at night they’re putting their hearts and souls into (this) and we appreciated these guys,” said Speer.