The Gold Pan complex continues to burn in the Frank Church, River of No Return Wilderness just over the Montana border in Idaho. Firefighters are utilizing a seldom-used method to help fight the fire.

Fire Information Officer Mike Cole said on Thursday that officials started a burnout using an unusual method.

"We started a burnout at the top of the slope of the south side of the MacGruder Road, and we used what's called a delayed aerial ignition," Cole said. "It's a dispenser that sends out poly-styrene balls, much like a ping-pong ball about an inch and a quarter in diameter, and they contain a chemical, and then its fed out of the dispenser and dropped through a chute out of a helicopter. The chemicals react together and create a thermal reaction in about 25 to 30 seconds, so they ignite after they hit the ground.So, we dropped about 16,000 of those across the hillside on the fire's edge. When you do that on a hillside, they ignite and burn back into the fire."

The fire is now at just under 17,000 acres in size, and smoke continues to drift all over the area.

Fire Information Officer Mike Cole


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