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Wildfires in Idaho: Highway 55 fire grows to 3,500 acres; 423 battling fire near Riggins

Western fires as seen from space

Wildfire smoke and flames from satellite imagery over Idaho and Montana on Sept. 3, 2017.
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Wildfire smoke and flames from satellite imagery over Idaho and Montana on Sept. 3, 2017.

A wildfire that started Wednesday afternoon near Idaho Highway 55 north of Horseshoe Bend has now burned 3,000 to 3,500 acres, according to the Idaho Department of Lands.

The fire damaged power poles, and Garden Valley was without power Thursday while crews worked to replace those. Power was expected to be restored late Thursday night.

One lane of the highway is open with single-lane traffic alternating with a pilot car, but motorists should expect long delays and be prepared to encounter falling rock.

Officials urge travelers to avoid Idaho 55, if possible. Travelers going to McCall are asked to take U.S. Highway 95, while those headed to Stanley are asked to take Idaho Highway 21 or go through Sun Valley.

The cause of the Mile Marker 73-Highway 55 Fire is under investigation.

Resources on the fire: one helicopter, three single-engine air tankers, one very large air tanker, and multiple engines. Garden Valley and Horseshoe Bend Rural Fire Departments are on scene. Two dozers and two additional crews were ordered and expected to arrive Thursday.

Another large fire impacting Idaho residents and travelers is the Rattlesnake Creek Fire, which is burning south of Riggins.

Rattlesnake Creek Fire

A public meeting on the Rattlesnake Creek Fire is scheduled fro 6 p.m. MT at Salmon River High School in Riggins, according to IdahoFireInfo.com.

The fire, burning on the Nez Perce-Clearwater and Payette national forests, grew to 3,043 acres by Thursday. It is burning on the west side of U.S. Highway 95 near Pollock.

No structures have burned but multiple structures are threatened.

Residents of Pollock and Whitewater were put on “pre-evacuation” notice Tuesday due to the Rattlesnake Creek Fire.

The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office posted the pre-evacuation notice on Facebook. The sheriff’s office is handling traffic control along the highway, which at times may have reduced visibility due to smoke.

The fire started Monday, July 23. About 423 people are currently battling the wildfire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Bruneau Fire

The Bruneau Fire, sparked by thunderstorms passing through southern Idaho late Tuesday afternoon, has burned 57,300 acres northwest of Murphy Hot Springs, according to Idaho Bureau of Land Management.

Murphy Hot Springs is in southern Owyhee County, along the Nevada border.

Structures are not immediately threatened but are near the fire area, the BLM said Thursday.

Resources on the fire: three dozers, 13 engines, one fuel truck, one camp crew, three Creek Rangeland Fire Protection Association, two water tenders and multiple aircraft.

The Bruneau Fire was 30 percent contained on Thursday.

Cat Fire

The Cat Fire, sparked by lightning Tuesday, is burning 13 miles east of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation on the Idaho and Nevada border. It had grown to nearly 16,000 acres by Tuesday afternoon. It is 49 percent contained.

Resources on that fire: one helicopter, two hand crews, one water tender and three dozers. Air attack and air tankers are being shared with the Bruneau Fire. Other Boise BLM crews were working on smaller fires southeast of Juniper Mountain and northeast of Jordan Valley, Oregon.

Lodgepole fire.jpg
Photo of a backing fire to fight the Lodgepole Fire burning on the Boise National Forest (National Interagency Fire Center/InciWeb)

Lodgepole Fire

The Lodgepole Fire, which has burned 1,616 acres northeast of Garden Valley, was 75 percent contained on Thursday.

The fire started as a prescribed burn on April 24. It was declared a wildfire on July 14 after being human-caused. On Tuesday, 118 people were working the fire. It is now 45 percent contained.

View the closure area associated with this fire: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5929/

Reynolds Lake Fire

Lightning sparked the Reynolds Lake Fire, which has burned 1,068 acres since July 17. The fire was 60 percent contained Thursday, according to inciweb.

It is burning in heavy timber in the Bitterroot and Salmon-Challis national forests, about 35 miles southwest of Darby, Montana. No structures are threatened.

On Thursday, 113 firefighters were working the fire,including four crews, two engines and two helicopters.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413

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