A spot fire that jumped out of the 2,500-acre Springs Fire near Banks has put more homes in danger as fire crews continue to battle flames and searing hot summer weather in Boise County.
The Springs fire jumped the South Fork of the Payette River late Tuesday night and lit up the other side,, Boise National Forest officials say. Some residents near Banks were given notice that they may have to leave their homes but no official evacuation notice had been given as of 8 a.m. Wednesday.
A rock fall has closed a four-mile section of Idaho 55 about one mile north of Banks.
The highway has been closed since Tuesday afternoon and remains closed Wednesday morning, so motorists headed to McCall from the Boise area should take U.S. 95 instead.
The fire has burned up to the road on Idaho 55 in a few places and is actively burning in the higher elevations which means it keeps shaking rocks loose and sending them towards the road, officials say. High heat loosens soil and burns vegetation that otherwise might provide a more firm foundation on the steep slopes.
The Banks to Lowman Highway is open with a pilot car, so drivers should expect delays of up to 30 minutes or more, if fire crews need access to the fire.
Firefighters will have to use a raft to cross the South Fork of The Payette River to battle the blaze on the other side, officials say.
The Springs Fire, a human-caused blaze lit near Skinnydipper Hot Springs on Friday, grew from 1,400 acres on Tuesday to 2,500 by Wednesday morning. The fire has moved into an area about two miles north of Banks.
Officials say fire crews continue to do a good job on the southeast flank of the Springs Fire, which is about half a mile from the Frazier Creek subdivision, a group of about 18 homes. Homeowners have been warned about the blaze but there have not been any evacuation orders as of Tuesday afternoon. Some engine crews are in that neighborhood.
About 240 firefighters are working on the blaze. Hot Shot crews are putting in firelines in the steep terrain while being supported from the air by helicopters doing water drops and planes dropping retardant. Fire officials say there is an 3,000 foot difference from the top to the bottom of the blaze.
A Type 1 fire management crew will take over management of the Springs Fire later Wednesday because of the increasing complexity of the fire fighting effort, officials said.
Rafters on the South Fork Payette River can still float but need to use caution traveling through the river where the helicopters are dipping. It is unclear if the spot fire on the south side of the river will require firefighters to stop floating traffic.
Officials say all of the Boise National Forest is very dry and recreationists need to be very careful with fire. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions will likely be expanded to include the entire Boise National Forest later in the week, which means campfires are only allowed in developed recreation sites.