Home near Idaho wildfire covered in red retardant: 'It felt like sticky rain'

EAGLE, Idaho -- The Brundy boys were shocked to see a wildfire, one they first spotted at a distance Tuesday night, almost at their doorstep in a matter of minutes.

"We've had lots of fires in the area in the past, " explained Eric Brundy, on a break from his day job working for a Marine Corps recruitment office.

He'd just pulled up in his white Mazda, now painted a brick red from the slurry that had been dropped by the BLM at the height of the fire.

"But this one moved so fast," he said. "We had just three minutes to grab what we could."

Younger brother Tanner said you learn quickly what matters most.

"I grabbed my dog, my brother grabbed his guitar and my other brother took his computer," he said, marveling at the speed of the fire that ate its way up the hill right in front of their split-level home on a bluff off Highway 16.

He surveyed the family home, once a pale yellow and now a tomato red.

"We can't wash anything," he said with a shrug, "because the power went out when the transformer blew."

Older brother Eric talked to Idaho Power and he said the utility has a theory that the slurry coated the cover on the nearby transformer and caused it to explode.

So the boys are helpless until the electricians show up to restore power.

In the meantime, the grass underfoot has a strange crunch, because it, too, is coated in fire retardant. In fact, everything on one side of the house, including patio furniture and the barbecue grill, looks like it's been coated in dried, sticky ketchup.

As messy as it looks, the BLM said the homeowner is responsible and insurance should cover any cleanup costs.

But the Brundy's are philosophical.

Eric said he's not bothered in the least that removing the thick slurry will require a lot of elbow grease. He also knows it's not hazardous--just an icky mixture of phosphate, grass seed and a harmless red dye.

"It could have been a lot worse" he explained, looking at his once sparkling Mazda. "We could have lost the house, and everything in it."

Suddenly an Idaho Power employee pulled up and let out a low whistle.

"We once had a truck get dumped on like that," he said, looking at Eric's car. "We had to get it sanded and repainted."

"It's OK," Eric told him, grinning. "I was just in town and everyone stopped me to ask about the custom paint job."