remove ITD equipment from popular airstrip
Three ITD personnel from the Division of Aeronautics removed vehicles and equipment from the Johnson Creek airstrip northeast of McCall Monday as a precautionary measure because of a nearby wildfire.
Mark Young began organizing the emergency evacuation Sunday night and enlisted the help of airport maintenance craftsmen Todd Glass and Mike Pryor in removing the equipment Monday morning as the Riordan Fire approached within about a mile of the popular airstrip. The trio removed two courtesy cars, a maintenance vehicle, an all-terrain vehicle and a grass mower. The vehicles and equipment were moved to the ITD maintenance yard in Cascade.
Fire management officials opted against early suppression efforts because resources were already committed to the rash of wildfires throughout the central and southern regions of Idaho. The Riordan Fire began July 17 and had consumed more than 9,000 acres as of Tuesday, Young said.
A caretaker stationed at the airstrip during summer months flew his personal aircraft from the grass strip Monday and returned Wednesday in a private vehicle to keep the irrigation system operating and reduce possible damage to the airstrip.
Two aircraft remained parked next to the Johnson Creek runway Wednesday morning. Another inoperable aircraft remained at one end of the airstrip.
Johnson Creek is considered the premier state-owned backcountry airstrip, explains JV DeThomas, administrator of the Aeronautics Division. The 3,400-foot grass strip is heavily used for recreation and includes a nearby campground, primitive bunkhouses, a caretakers residence, and other service buildings and facilities.
airstrip remains open, however, its use is not recommended because of
restricted visibility resulting from intermittent heavy smoke and unpredictable
fire behavior, DeThomas said.