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Storm Rips Up 1,500 Acres of Timber

April 23, 1986

BOISE, Idaho (AP) _ High winds blasted the Boise National Forest, leveling enough trees to load 1,000 logging trucks, said officials who were trying to figure out whether to blame tornadoes for the damage.

High gusts hit Ada and Boise counties Tuesday evening, cutting through 1,500 to 2,000 acres of forest and leaving thousands without electricity.

One gust lifted a mobile home into the air and tossed it about 60 feet, injuring the two people inside, Michael Yates, 33, and his girlfriend, Carol Watrous, 26, said Yates’ father, F.R. Yates. They were treated at a Boise hospital for cuts and bruises.

″The wind just tore it all to pieces, just like a tornado,″ F.R. Yates said. ″Mike’s back looks like he’s been through a meatpacker.″

More than 10,000 Idaho Power Co. customers in Boise lost power, said company spokesman Larry Taylor. He said electricity was restored to the last 500 customers by midmorning today.

The National Forest Service conducted an aerial survey of the tree damage today, but spokesman Dale Dufour said a firm assessment was not yet available.

Trees were ″snapped off like sticks,″ said Charlie Vaughn, fire management officer for the Lowman Ranger District.

The National Weather Service planned to examine how trees fell trees to determine whether a tornado struck, said spokesman Gerry Burdwell.

The winds felled 6 million board feet of timber, Dufour estimated. One logging truck hauls 5,000 to 6,000 board feet, he said.

Roofs were ripped off homes and trees were strewn across Idaho 21 between Idaho City and Lowman, Boise County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Richards said.

In one place in the forest, trees were downed in a swath that ran down one mountainside, across a valley and up another slope, he said. ″I was told the trees look like they had been clear cut.″

The weather service recorded a gust of 58 mph at the Boise Air Terminal, meteorologist Martha Roletto said. Hail three-eighths of an inch in diameter fell at the weather station.

Radar at Mountain Home Air Force Base indicated a tornado about 20 miles northeast of Boise, Roletto said.

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