Firefighters are on standby as thunderstorms roll through the area

Firefighters are on standby as thunderstorms roll through the area »Play Video
The Rough Creek fire affects 2,600 acres
RIGGINS, ID – A wildfire in the Riggins area, sparked by lightning, has reached an estimated $1.4 million in costs.

Crew members fear that number could rise dramatically, depending on how the next 24 hours pans out.

The Rough Creek fire, located six miles east of Riggins, is estimated to be roughly 2,600 acres in size. The terrain is steep and the growth potential is high, but those aren't the only elements that concern Incident Commander Bob Fry of the Northern Rockies Western Montana Team.

While the fire is 40% contained at this time, firefighters are on standby as thunderstorms roll through the area.

"The reality is that's another element of risk right now, and I'm sure they're talking about it on the hill as to whether or not they should pull off," said Fry.

The thunderstorms projected in the area could result in two different scenarios, neither of which is ideal for the firefighting crews.

"If they do get rain then there's the element of flash flooding on the steep slopes that have really been burned over by the fires," said Fry.

Without precipitation, the fire could grow or new fires around the area could pop up.

"Maybe they come with rain, maybe they don't,” said Fry. “Maybe they just come with lightning."

The next 24 hours are crucial as to what steps the teams will have to take in tackling the appropriately named Rough Creek wildfire. But Fry said it's just like any other day on the job, where preparation, skill and fast thinking are all necessary to stay safe. That's a reality embedded into each of these firefighters, every fire season.

"This year is Yarnell fire, and every year there's something else,” said Fry. “So we take it very seriously."

A total of 250 personnel are working the Rough Creek Fire at this time.

Public safety concerns have prompted the closure of a broad area east and north of Riggins.