Neighbor: ''They didn't do anything - they watched it burn'

HAILEY, Idaho (KBOI) - A homeowner says he watched a fire truck pull up to a fire about two miles out of Hailey on Sunday.

Fire crews, he says, didn't try to knock it down before it torched more than 700 acres in the Colorado Gulch area.

"They didn't do anything they watched it burn," Kim Nilsen said.

He says fire crews could have put it out in 10 minutes and they told him that they were there just to protect homes. Fire crews used planes, helicopters and a bulldozer to work the fire most of the day as it flared up several times.

The Wood River Fire chief says that it was a safety issue that kept them from killing the fire that they knew was going to spread quickly. "We cant be expected to put out an eighth or a quarter of an acre out when the winds are blowing 20 miles an hour, we've got 90 plus degree heat. We have to place the apparatus in a position in a safety zone and we have an area where we can escape the fire," Chief Bart Lassman said.

The chief says that his crews did the right thing not putting themselves in danger without backup around. "We cant be expected to put sagebrush out. We have limited amount of water and the fire was a quarter of an acre in size," the chief said.

But Nilsen says that the fire could have been out in minutes before it spread and he says now probably cost more than $100,000 to put out. "I appreciate the fireman. But somebody who is making decisions needs to be fired. Because this is a waste," Nilsen said.