Sheep Fire residents that stay in homes concern fire protection specialist

LUCILE, ID - Fire crews working in the Lucile area are starting to gain some ground as they battle the growing Sheep wildfire north of Riggins.

Firefighters working the Sheep Fire in the Lucile area are doing what they can to protect homes threatened by the nearly 21,000 acre blaze. Some homes in the area, like this one in the John Day drainage area -have escaped the flames, thanks to their efforts.

An evacuation warning was issued Sunday. However, some residents have chosen to stay behind and that weighs heavily on the minds of those working to protect them.

"It's always a concern because you're not sure of their skill level and whether or not they've dealt with fire before," said Sheep Fire Structure Protection Specialist Butch Fitzpatrick. "We know what our own trained folks have done."

Fitzpatrick said that it's pretty simple to spot those who have stayed behind because they're not wearing the the same protective clothing firefighters all wear. Beyond the concern of those who've chosen not to heed the evacuation warning and stay behind, there is another worry for firefighters.

The water tender choppers are quite the sight to see as they work like a busy hive of bees dropping their water-loads on the flames. However, that sight catches the attention of too many folks, including drivers on Highway 95 who stop in the middle of the road to stop and watch.

It's important to remember that authorities warn folks that even though there's a lot to look at with these helicopters around the area, you still need to keep your eyes focused on the road and don't stop to watch.

"Naturally that's an attraction to people to stop and take pictures and so forth," said Fitzpatrick. "But we ask folks to keep in mind that that can create a traffic hazard. So we ask them to park safely and out of the way if they do that."

Fire personnel had to get on loudspeakers to tell these cars to move along as they had come to a complete stop on the highway to watch the helicopters on the Salmon River. That's one hazard that's completely avoidable, and the firefighters ask that you keep that in mind.