Weekend recreationists from the Treasure Valley headed up to the McCall Friday will have to take the long way around U.S. 95.
The Springs Fire has once again closed a portion of Idaho 55 - but this time it's before Banks. The fire, burning on the mountains between Idaho 55 and the Banks-to-Lowman Highway, is causing rocks and debris to fall on Idaho 55 from the ridges above, making car travel dangerous.
The Idaho Department of Transportation closed Idaho 55 between Gardena Road and Smiths Ferry Drive/High Valley Road, which is about 14 miles south of Cascade. (Thats milepost 75 to 97). That means Treasure Valley motorists can't get to the Banks-to-Lowman Highway (milepost 79) by taking Idaho 55.
During the week, that corridor gets about 3,500 cars, trucks, and other vehicles a day. That number goes way up on summer weekends, however, as recreationists travel from the Treasure Valley up to the mountains to play.
On Friday, the average number of cars traveling through that corridor is more than 6,800. On Sundays, when people are headed back to the Boise area, that corridor averages about 7,500 cars, according to Idaho Transportation Department records.
A 17-mile portion of Idaho 21 remains closed between Grandjean Road to Boundary Creek Road as crews work on the Bench Fire, about 25 miles east of Lowman.
That means anyone from the Treasure Valley that intends to go up to the Stanley area Friday should plan to get there via Idaho 75 through Sun Valley.
Crews continue to work on that blaze, which was estimated at about 100 acres Thursday afternoon and led officials to evacuate the nearby Bull Trout Lake Campground.
It is unclear when Idaho 55 and Idaho 21 will reopen. Check back at Idahostatesman.com for updates.
The Springs Fire, which was ignited Sunday near Skinnydipper Hot Springs just off the Banks-to-Lowman Highway, has burned 3,500 acres. On Thursday night the blaze moved downslope towards Idaho 55. The fire was active on the east side of the highway but has not yet jumped over the west side, fire officials say.
While crews continue to make progress on the blaze, fire officials have concerns about a Red Flag weather warning in effect for Friday. That means high temperatures, low humidity, and stiff and erratic winds are possible as the day heats up.
Firefights will focus their efforts on the northwest and southwest flanks of the fire Friday. Over 240 firefighers are working on the blaze. Air support includes helicopters dumping water and planes dropping retardant on the fire.
Fire crews will also continue to pay close attention to tue eastern flank of the fire, which got as close as a half mile from the Frazier Creek Subdivision off the Banks-to-Lowman Highway.
The South Fork of the Payette River and the main Payette River below Banks are open to rafters, who will need to pull up and have to stop if helicopters are filling water buckets, officials say.