Wildfire destroys NICI staff member’s home; other IDOC staff members' homes threatened

tree burns
Photo courtesy Lt. Greg Heun, ICIO

Flames have destroyed the home of a longtime North Idaho Correctional Institution staff member and are threatening the homes of at least 17 other people who work at NICI or Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino.

NICI Warden Lynn Guyer says the man whose home was lost works for Corizon and has been assigned to the facility “for years.”

“Staff have been in contact with [him] and he is doing well,” Guyer says. “At this time he is not in need of any support.”

ICIO Warden Terema Carlin says the homes of 14 people who work at her facility are at risk. Seven of those homes them are in immediate danger. 

Carlin says she has been trying to stay in touch by phone or text with all ICIO staff members whose homes are threatened.   

“We are still unable to get in to most of the areas impacted by evacuation notices,” Carlin says. “Our plan is to take Wednesday afternoon and try to get in to some areas to see staff.“

The wildfires are not threatening NICI or ICIO and have had little impact on their operations.

At ICIO, inmates have not been allowed on the recreation yard due to unhealthy air quality. Some staff members have also had to work longer hours to cover for their colleagues whose homes are threatened, or who are unable to reach the facility.

“We have staff unable to come to work due to being on evacuation notice or closed roads,” Carlin says. 

Staff and inmates at both facilities are helping people whose lives have been upended by the flames.

“Yesterday staff started bringing in food items, toiletries, hand towels, books etc. to be taken to the Kooskia area for distribution,” Guyer says.

ICIO is operating a wellness center for staff. It is a shower and kitchen. “Through donations by staff we have water, Gatorade, and toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, bar soap, and toothpaste) for them to take and use if needed." 

In addition to ICIO’s firefighting crews and camp maintenance crews, inmate volunteers from the facility have been organized to help where they can. Carlin says a 10-man inmate crew is working at Orofino’s volunteer center.

“The volunteer center is providing services to those volunteering to fight fire or help home owners,” Carlin says. “We have staff working on their own time at the volunteer center as well.”

Carlin says ICIO Deputy Warden Aaron Krieger attends the 7 a.m. daily briefing at the incident command center. 

Carlin says she told the mayor of Orofino, Ryan Smathers, that ICIO inmate volunteers are available to help if needed.   

Guyer is hopeful the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation will be able to help the staff member who lost his home to the fire. He says NICI’s Project Compassion has already provided the man with financial support.

Story published: 08/19/2015