Mink Creek-Gibson Jack Creek juniper, sagebrush and grass fire burns houses and winter range-

At about 3 PM today, a fire suddenly erupted near Charlotte Drive just off of  Mink Creek at the south end of Pocatello.  This is a foothill area on the edge of the Bannock Mountain Range with many homes, recreational trails, and winter range for deer.  Many of the homes are large and expensive.  An unknown number have burned and burned quickly, shortly after the fire started. The cause has not been announced.

The fire area has long been regarded as a dangerous “urban/wildland” interface area, and a fair amount of juniper thinning was been done during the last decade, but this seems to have had no obvious effect today as the fire continues to burn out of control on the edge of the city and into it a way.

Today was a red flag warning day in SE Idaho — hot, very dry, beautiful blue skies until the fire, and wind.

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Update 6/28:  Twenty houses burned. No person was injured. No information has been released on the fate of animals. It has been named the Charlotte Fire.  At nighttime it was about 1000 acres. On the 29th, smoke is way down and the fire seems to be controlled.

Update 6/29.  The number of houses burned has been increased to 66 homes. 29 outbuildings were also lost.

Wildlife burns at the south end of Pocatello in the juniper at 4:50 PM June 28. Copyright Ralph Maughan

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

21 Responses to Fast moving fire hits south end of Pocatello – 2 updates

  1. avatar Kristin Fletcher says:

    Hey, not all the homes up Charlotte are expensive. That subdivision was developed in the late ’70s and is one of the few places in the hill that regular people can afford. I know. My home is directly in the path of the flames.

    • avatar LaJuana Brann says:

      Ms. Fletcher, we recently moved from the Pocatello area. Have friends near the Charlotte area there, the Van Dykes. Would you happen to know them, and if so, have they been affected? Thanks for any info you can give.

    • avatar Nan Meyer says:

      Every person’s home is priceless

  2. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Kristin,

    Yes I was thinking about you, but I thought you moved out of the area. I hope you did!

    Yes, many of the houses are quite modest near the ignition point, but the flames are beyond that into the big new home areas in Gibson Jack it appears to me. I saw one big house go up from the ISU campus.

  3. The Red Cross is opening a shelter at the Holt Arena (on ISU Campus) in response to this wild fire.

  4. avatar TCole says:

    I don’t think it is necessary to report that many of the homes are large and expensive. It is not any less devastating to people who happen to have smaller homes. I just hope and pray that the fire is taken care of quickly and that all the members of the community will be safe.

    • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

      TCole,

      Reporting the type of house doesn’t mean everyone’s home is not just as important. It’s just a description of what the area is like.

      In my opinion almost all of the homes in the area are larger than mine, 3 miles to the north.

  5. avatar Brittney says:

    I’m saying it was kids or teenagers setting off fireworks. Because I keep hearing that fireworks in Pocatello are now officially banned from here. The part that really sucks is I was still asleep and my sister woke me up and said “Sissy fire, fire!” And it scared the crap outta me, because I thought it was as big as the last one.. I’m just praying that no one got hurt.

  6. avatar michelle says:

    I watched the fire from century high all day. saw 3 explosions, and watched the fire grow out of control. thank god for the quick,
    efficiant efforts of our local and state fire fighters today! my parents live at the top of jonny creek, and although they were also evacuated, the fire never got that far north. I feel for the people who lost property and animals. god bless them all. and hopefully the evacuation will be lifted in the morning.

  7. avatar Nancy says:

    Given the potential for some very devastating fires in many areas this year, I think it would be a wise move to suspend the sale (or discharge) of fireworks.

  8. avatar Louise Kane says:

    I’m sorry for your families and to think of what devastation for the area and wildlife too.

  9. avatar Sandi says:

    Hmmm . . . I live at the north end of Johnny Creek and we were requested to closely watch the fire just in case the wind shifted and we’d have to leave. I called the sherriff’s department after the first of a series of evacuation calls because I didn’t know the name of the area that I live in (not here very long). We didn’t even smell the fire until 23:15 when the wind *did* shift to the northwest—but, by then, the evacuation notices had ceased for everyone.

    This morning, I have seen a few cars going south on Johnny Creek so I guess they’re letting some folk go back home who live on the west side of the street rather than on the east side where there is still, apparently, hot spots burning. Nothing can be seen from my house and we are up the hill a ways.

    • avatar Nancy says:

      “where there is still, apparently, hot spots burning”

      Gotta watch those “hot spots”

      A few years ago I came home to a fire burning on the ranch across from me.

      Our volunteer fire dept. was on the scene, firefighters were bused in and a helicopter was dipping water out of local ponds (because it was close to threatening state lands and forest area)

      Took them most of the day to get it under control. When it got dark, I could see “hot spots” burning, looked like dozens of campfires. Called the local fire chief and she assured me that the “hot spots” were in the dark spots (burned areas) and there was nothing to be concerned about.

      Well, the next day, the winds picked up and the “hot spots” jumped the dark spots – far from where the cleanup crew was working. I was on the phone to 911 immediately because I had a tragic view of what was taking place as the fire now munched thru sagebrush and aspen stands as it headed up the valley.

      A chemical plane out of Great Falls was called in and made a few passes and a local crew, working nearby on the road, brought their dozer in to clear a buffer zone.

      500 acres burned because of those “hot spots” and would you believe? Neighbors with shovels, who rushed to help, were told to get out of the area?

  10. avatar klaas says:

    Anybody know if the Old Orchard area is affected. I live on Indian Tree Lane facing Bannock Highway and I am currently out of town. I heard the Cuuntry Corner conveneince store burned in the fires?

  11. avatar Melissa says:

    very sad but at least no lifes were takin! Good luck to all my fellow pocatellians who’s houses went up! It was a hard thing to watch seeing all the flames. we live on south fifth and we were even getting the ashes.

  12. avatar Jackie Maughan says:

    Large, expensive homes are being built in the wildland/urban interface, also smaller, expensive homes, and a few modest homes but not many. This particular area is full of the highly-flammable juniper. Building here is a practice which should never have taken place. It is like building on a floodplain. I’ve been in homes in this area and the fire danger was very obvious to me. (I have been a professional fire lookout for the U.S. Forest Service for five summers.) I feel very bad for my friends and acquaintances who live in the Mink Creek area who either lost property or feared such would happen. However, to say that the value of the homes is irrelevant simply is not true. It’s as untrue as saying the fact that they were built in a obvious fire zone doesn’t matter either.

    • avatar Scott MacButch says:

      “However, to say that the value of the homes is irrelevant simply is not true. It’s as untrue as saying the fact that they were built in a obvious fire zone doesn’t matter either.”

      Don’t follow your logic there. I lived there for 31 years up autumn lane. You need to join the “gawkers” streaming by and if it makes any difference to you all the very high end homes were spared – go to the top of autumn lane – majority of homes were like mine, built in the 70s, 1700 sq ft. Hell a home is a home – show some compassion.

  13. avatar skyrim says:

    I have a small cabin in Central Utah that has narrowly missed the destructive paths of both the Seely fire and the Wood Hollow fire. This is a dry subdivision where until recently we had a single source of shares in surface water rights. Recently we lost that solitary source of water. While work goes on in trying to replace that source of water, no one including the County sees any value in a moratoriumon building. Building permits continue to be issued and inspections carry on. Maybe I’m the one who needs a few sessions on the couch, but I doubt it.

  14. avatar Ovis says:

    Cashing in on land speculation is a way of getting retirement money for some local citizens and a way of life for others.

    Because they don’t have to pay the full costs of the fires or floods that might follow building in a bad place, there is no local incentive to disallow it.

    Land speculation has been a drag on the economy, on justice, a harm to the environment, and a source of corruption for hundreds of years. It persists because the benefits go to just a few who are highly motivated to engage in the politics to get approval to sell, but the costs are distributed to and paid by the masses.

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