The Halstead Fire has burned over 83,000 acres, prompted evacuations and is still growing.
It’s a story that conjures frightening images of danger and destruction, but even near the center of the fire fight, there lies a story of Halstead that hasn’t been told outside the central mountains.
Smoke began to thicken as our crew left Idaho Falls for Stanley, but once we arrived, it was clear skies and life as usual outside the incident command center.
Incident Manager Bruce Palmer explained just how severe Halstead is.
“The fire has progressed to the edge of (an) old fire scar,” Palmer said, pointing to a map. “Just as a precaution, the sheriff’s department ordered a 24-hour evacuation from this area up at Moon Summit all the way back down to Sunbeam.”
That evacuation zone affects 30 homes. Twelve of those homes belong to permanent residents. Of those 12, only six evacuated.
Though the rest of Custer County is in no immediate danger, the people there are suffering.
“I’m not concerned,” said Ben Forsgren, a who lives and owns a store in Stanley. “What I’m concerned about is the rumors going on.”
Forsgren and Brett Woolley, another Stanley business owner, agree that word of the Halstead Fire has driven people out of Stanley and away from their businesses.
“I’m losing an average — a minimum of $1,000 a day, just because of this fire,” Woolley said.
As firefighters are unable to get to the center of the blaze because of the rough terrain and sheer thickness of the flames, the Halstead Fire could be around for months.
“By mid-October, we should have a significant snow that would put this out,” Palmer said.