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Wind-whipped wildfire near Bruneau sand dunes consumes nearly 40,000 acres

'It was scary.' Bruneau residents dodge wildfire

The Loveridge Fire burned into the Bruneau Dunes State Park, threatening structures and residential buildings near the park. The wildfire has burned more than 40,000 acres.
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The Loveridge Fire burned into the Bruneau Dunes State Park, threatening structures and residential buildings near the park. The wildfire has burned more than 40,000 acres.

Firefighters had made some progress Monday evening controlling the Loveridge Fire, which burned into Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park and briefly forced the park’s closure.

Recreationists and others are asked to use extreme caution in the area southeast of Bruneau, where the Loveridge Fire started Sunday, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Monday. Firefighters had the size of the fire contained at about 38,645 acres Monday evening.

The fire burned into the state park’s territory but spared the heart of the park, fire information officer Kelsey Brizendine said. The park was evacuated Sunday night but reopened on Monday afternoon.

“With high winds, very hot and very dry conditions, the potential for this fire to grow rapidly is extreme,” Brizendine said.

Structures were threatened, Brizendine said, but no damage to any had been reported. A Bruneau firetruck was helping to protect some homes in the area, an Owyhee County dispatcher said.

Traffic on Idaho 78 through the fire area is being restricted to ensure the safety of the firefighters and the public, the BLM reported.

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but lightning was reported in the area Sunday, Brizendine said. The fire was first reported about at 4:30 p.m. Sunday about 8 miles southeast of Bruneau.

High winds spurred the fire’s rapid growth through grass and brush, Brizendine said. And although the winds eased overnight, 20 mph gusts were dealt with on Monday. Winds were driving the fire to the northwest, the BLM reported.

Aircraft helping fight the fire included heavy air tankers, single-engine air tankers and helicopters, on-scene fire information officer Jennifer Myslivy said. More firefighting resources have been requested.

A second fire, which has spread to 10,000 acres in the Twin Falls BLM District, was sparked by lightning Sunday about 5 miles south of Shoshone, the BLM reported. The Antelope Fire started at only 4,000 acres, according to a news release, but winds contributed to its spread across a grassy area.

U.S. 93 temporarily closed due to the Antelope Fire.

Ruth Brown contributed to this report.

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