Residents of historic Warren, Idaho urged to flee fire

Warren is a partial ghost town in Western Idaho. There is no longer any mining going on there. Much of the timber for miles around has burned in the last 20 years. Now it is threatened by the Zena/Loon Fire.

Warm Lake, about 50 miles to the south of Warren may burn down too. It is an extended area of summer homes around and near this lake that lies in a mountain valley.

This is all very important wildlife habitat. The forest fires of recent years have done much to stimulate the growth of grasses and forbs, leading to an increased elk (and, therefore too) wolf population. The effects on the streams are not beneficial because the the ground mostly decomposed granite (sand). Erosion sends it into the streams where it fills up the salmon and steelhead spawning beds.

Story in the Idaho Statesman. Residents of historic Warren urged to flee fire (see video). in Warm Lake, a fire might prevent residents from returning for their valuables. By Heath Druzin.

-Update. Early August 11.

Inciweb seems to have collapsed, leaving a big hole in official fire news. Regarding this fire, however, it is one of many medium sized forest (not range) fires that have started in the mountains to the north, northeast, and southeast of McCall, Idaho. This is in Western Idaho.
A number of small former ghost towns in the backcountry like Warm Lake and (gravel road access only) like Warren, Yellow Pine, and Stibnite are threatened. Given dry weather and wind some of these fires could burn together, although so much of this country has burned in the last 20 years that the fuel load has been reduced somewhat (this is just my opinion). Stibnite is the most remote. I didn’t know anyone really lived there anymore.

-Update. Late August 11.

Inciweb is finally back online. Northwest of large town of McCall, the East Zone Fire Complex (three forest fires) has expanded to 86,953 acres. These are the fires threatening the backcountry hamlets of Warren and Secesh. The complex remains just 15 percent contained. The towns of Secesh and Warren as well as historic sites and bridges remain threatened. Inciweb says, Weather conditions are expected to become more severe over the weekend, with lower relative humidities, higher temperatures and stronger winds. Along the ridgelines, wind gusts of 25 mph may be experienced. These conditions will contribute to more active fire behavior. Map of all Western Idaho road closures and fires as of Aug. 11.

Warren, Idaho on the afternoon of Aug. 9, 2007.

Boat trips down the Salmon River from Corn Creek are now prohibited.

The Cascade Complex Fire
has a perimeter of 44,036. This is about 15 miles NE of Cascade. This one is the threat to the Warm Lake summer home area. Extreme fire behavior was reported, but backfires are being lit that might save structures. The Warm Lake Highway (from Cascade) is closed.

The Rattlesnake Fire has burned 57,608 acres 25 miles south of remote Elk City in north central Idaho. It is about 3 miles from the group of cabins named “Dixie.” It is burning along the Salmon River and well up into the Salmon River breaks. So far the fire is completely uncontained. Map from Inciweb.

The Landmark Fire Complex it as 47,058 acres and threatens tiny Stibnite, east of Yellow Pine in Valley County. It consists of 3 fires. It’s 29 percent contained.

Update Aug. 12.

These fires put up huge plumes Sunday (very impressive on Earth satellite). Smoke covered most of northern Idaho and NW Montana. The latest report on the East Zone Complex reports that flames are crowning at 200 feet high on the outskirts of Warren, Idaho. Some buildings now lost.

Late afternoon fire plumes in central Idaho, Yellowstone and vicinity (circled in red). 

The Landmark Complex incident page indicates an inversion has kept planes grounded, and supply is on horseback and mules.

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  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think it is significant that the progress against forest fires is always measured in news reports on the basis of whether structures were saved, not whether the forest was damaged, renewed, etc.

    I have noticed (over probably a 30 year period) that when you talk with the “person in the street” who knows some of areas threatened by various wildfires, the politically incorrect view that the whole place would be better off if nature restored it to a natural setting comes out very often. . .

    not that I want anyone’s summer home to burn down.

  2. kt Avatar

    Have you seen George Wuerthner’s latest communique? He visited the Tahoe site of the Angora fire. I believe that is the one Harry Reid got all worked up over – and may the basis of the apparent bonding of Reid with Craig , Crapo and Otter. It appears some of the Tahoe HOUSES caught other HOUSES on fire. George has been pointing out for a long time that thinning may actually increase fire risk, too. Hotter, dries out earlier, windier, or at least alters wind patterns.

    There was a very interesting article today on how Tall Buildings in cities actually seem to provoke more lightning. The times of thinking of weather as somehow separated from human activities are over. See

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Folks should read everything Wuerthner writes about fires, IMO.

    Addition later: especially those MSM reporters who are in over their heads in covering fires.

  4. Cathi Avatar

    I would like to respond to the person who commented on measuring the progression on the basis of structures saved.

    I am a “summer” resident of Warren, and I would like to set some false information straight. Warren is not a partial ghost town. There are several year round residents, and at least two businesses (a bed and breakfast and a bar/restaurant) run by good, hardworking people. When you walk into the restaurant, the walls are covered with dollar bills that people have signed from all over the world. Mining is still occurring in Warren, I’m sure the Unity Mining Company would be surprised to hear that there isn’t. There are many historic artifacts both American and Chinese. There is a National Historical building there, two graveyards that have old wooden grave markers that date back to the 1800’s. There is so many historical treasures here and it will be a shame if any of them are destroyed. Many of the families have had cabins that have been handed down through generations and their families have been in Warren for many years.

    It is so much more than a “summer” community to me and my family. My husband’s grandparents owned our cabin for years. My husband’s grandfather is buried in the cemetary and we will be burying his grandmother there next summer. So first and foremost, it is a place for us to go and “visit” his grandparents and reflect on what they meant to us. My husband and I have taken our family to Warren for many years. So we have special memories there. Our youngest child is named Warren! My husband looks forward to the day when our grandchildren will have memories there with their children.

    Warren is not just a bunch of summer cabins. Fighting the fire is not just saving some buildings. It is saving some people’s livlihoods, and a precious treasure for all of the residents, both year-round, and summer. Not to mention that the wildlife and the beauty of the forest is part of what makes Warren so important to many people.

    I appreciate the hard work of all the firefighters fighting for Warren and the surrounding communities, and I pray for their safety.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks for correcting my errors, Cathi.

    I certainly appreciate it. I have trying to figure out how describe Warren, which I have only visited once, and was obviously not so good at choosing the right words.

    I hope they don’t burn.

  6. Cathi Avatar

    Ralph –

    Thanks. I would also like to thank you for having this information on your website. It has allowed us to see a little more about what is going on, especially since Inciweb keeps going down. I fully support your concern for the wildlife and the forest, its just that I’m equally concerned for structures, people, and preserving the historical nature of Warren.

    You’ve only been once and Warren didn’t compel you to come back??!! My husband was very concerned about my first trip up there because I am quite the “city” girl. His family still teases me that they are shocked I can stand the fact that there is no shopping or electricity around for miles. I think my husband is still shocked at the depth of my love for Warren.

    Come back any time, I am very optimistic that it will still be standing.


  7. Romy Avatar

    I’m in love with Warren too. I haven’t been back since 1984. Since then I’ve raised three kids and now in the next couple of years I want to go back. My grandparents were Ruth and Tim Warren, really great people, and I had such great memories visiting them there each summer.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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