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Update: Cool weather could suppress Pioneer Fire

By Nicole Blanchard

nblanchard@idahostatesman.com

Just days after blaming a low-humidity snap for flareups in the Pioneer Fire, officials are optimistic that an incoming cold front could held them gain ground on the 184,000-acre fire, which started in mid-July. Crews on Sunday held containment of the blaze at 56 percent, according to a Boise National Forest press release.

Cool weather and light precipitation had tempered the fire over Labor Day weekend. But officials earlier in the week were preparing for even more increase in fire activity due to dry conditions and say that heat will have a hold on fuel moisture despite the cold front.

Officials said a potential additional closure in the Boise National Forest could close Forest Service road 579 at the North Fork Elk Creek trail and south of the Deadwood Lodge as the fire moves north. Find other closure information here.

In addition, fire managers said Sunday that smoke will continue to hang in the area. Sunday showed a marked improvement in air quality, with conditions clear in the Treasure Valley and “moderate” to “unhealthy” closer to the blaze. On Saturday afternoon, the Boise area had a "moderate" air quality index rating, while Garden Valley and Lowman areas had "unhealthy" indexes. Keep track of air quality information here.

According to a Saturday release, the fire flared up in Black Bear Creek and near Miller Mountain on its southwest corner and activity had also increased on its northeast flank. Crews continue to use area burn scars to try to contain the fire, along with tree removal.

As of Sunday, evacuation orders were in place for all properties throughout Lowman (at level 1) and summer homes in Long Creek (at level 20). Evacuation notices in Garden Valley and Pioneerville have been rescinded.

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