AMERICAN FALLS — Burnell Jayne sat on his front porch with his dog, Elvis, wagging its tail as he pointed to the place where his property was scorched by the Rooster Rock fire Friday afternoon.
The smell of burnt grain and sagebrush still hung in the air, but the danger had moved to other parts of the mountainous region.
The fire that scorched a portion of his land was one of two large wildfires started Thursday night in Power County by lightning strikes. The fires had burned an estimated 12,700 combined acres as of press time.
“I could see it coming over the hill,” Jayne said.
Jayne spotted the fire about the time fire crews arrived at his door Thursday night. He was evacuated to his neighbor’s house down the road around 8 p.m.
The fire did not touch his home, but it did burn a fence, some plastic irrigation
pipes, some of his field, grain fields owned by his neighbor and a few trees.
Kathy Landoff said when she heard about the fire she called her father. When he didn’t answer the phone, she became concerned and drove from Pocatello to check on him.
“I could see the fire from the freeway,” Landoff said. “You could see it just blazing.”
Jayne was only evacuated for about 30 minutes. He and Landoff had been keeping the grounds wet around the house throughout Friday.
Fire crews were still in the process of containing the two fires — the Rooster Rock fire and the Power County Assist Fire — Friday night.
“Crews are working the edges of the fire and mopping up around the hot spots,” said Lynn Ballard, fire information officer with the fire center.
Ballard said the fire commanders for both fires believe they are making progress toward containment.
He cautioned that desert fires tend to have quick-burning fuels.
“Once you get the edges cool (the fire) will stop, unless the wind is blowing,” Ballard said.
The Rooster Rock fire and another nearby fire, called the Neibaur fire, joined together Friday morning and had burned an estimated 10,000 acres by Friday evening, officials said.
The Rooster Rock fire is on the Fort Hall Reservation south of Interstate 86 in Arbon Valley.
Fire crews were also working on the Power County Assist fire that had burned about 2,700 acres Friday evening about 5 miles south of Massacre Rocks State Park.
Ballard said the weather has cooperated so far today. Crews will continue to watch for winds and thunderstorms as they continue to fight the fire.