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Fire’s foe: Incident commander battles ‘Killian Fire’

On Tuesday, the Killian Fire burned 11.8 acres of grass, sage, and juniper before stopping short of a house overlooking Swan Valley.

The flames could have taken a much greater toll. On Monday, eastern Idaho was under a high fire danger and Red Flag warning.

As the fire burned, Targhee National Forest Assistant Fire Manager Bobette Rowe managed things from the ground.

“That’s affirm, they’ll be getting that to you right now,” said Rowe, as she spoke into her radio, replying to a request for water on the fire-line.

Rowe was the Killian Fire incident commander, and there was a lot to organize. Flames threatened a home, as single-engine aircraft fought the fire from above.

“There’s a lot going through the mind as I traveled out here,” said Rowe.

In a fire season like the ones crews have experienced so far this year, even the tiniest spark can grow into a dragon in the grass, slithering and rolling through the sage.

So the dragon-catchers like Rowe are at their most prepared.

“It’s heightened our awareness, we’re making sure we have folks available to respond quickly,” said Rowe.

Rowe said crews need only remind themselves of the Charlotte Fire’s unforgiving bite, and venomous flame.

“We’re always definitely considering fire and the situation at hand and always kind of expecting the worst,” she said.

Crews expect the worst, but hope for the best.

As the day of dragon-fighting came to a close, raindrops splashed water in tiny puddles. It was a reminder for Rowe and crews that Tuesday was a mild day.

The Killian Fire was attacked by crews from Central Fire District, Swan Valley Fire, Forest Service, BLM, and Ririe Fire.

The Bonneville County Sheriff’s office also provided assistance.

The owners of the threatened home were contacted, but were not inside the home at the time of the fire.

The Forest Service said it was human-caused and is still being investigated.

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