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Update: Crews focus on protecting Pioneerville from fire

By Nicole Blanchard

nblanchard@idahostatesman.com

About 20 families in the Lowman area were encouraged to evacuate Tuesday as the fire continued to grow.
About 20 families in the Lowman area were encouraged to evacuate Tuesday as the fire continued to grow.

Protecting Pioneerville is a priority for the 1,800 personnel working on the Pioneer Fire as the blaze continues to burn most actively on its western perimeter, according to a Boise National Forest press release.

The fire, which is burning in the Boise National Forest near Lowman, reached nearly 89,000 acres Sunday, according to the release. Containment held steady at 50 percent from earlier in the week.

According to the release, the fire is backing down Black Bear Creek drainage to the west, though growth in the area has slowed due to weather, aviation operations and thinned vegetation. Still, fire managers hope to confine the fire north of Forest Road 380 and east of Forest Road 397 as they focus on structure protection in nearby Pioneerville.

The fire advanced to the southwest, bringing it to about 4 miles northeast of Pioneerville Saturday. Activity on the northern and eastern perimeters of the blaze have slowed thanks to vegetation reduction work and some rain earlier in the week, though officials said dry conditions through the weekend will continue to pose a challenge.

Evening winds could push smoke into Lowman, Garden Valley, Idaho City and Boise, though conditions Sunday were “moderate,” an improvement from earlier in the week.

Idaho 17, which had been closed from Lowman to Danskin for over two weeks due to the Pioneer Fire, reopened Saturday, but officials warned drivers to be cautious of potential falling debris

Officials said a level 2 evacuation order is still in place for residents east of Grimes Pass Road, while those in Lowman and Pioneerville are under a level 1 evacuation order. Homes along Forest Road 582 are also under a level 2 order.

The lightning-sparked Rough Fire, also burning in the Boise National Forest about 14 miles from Lowman, is at 20 percent containment and nearly 3,800 acres burned. Officials expect to contain the Rough Fire by Sept. 15.

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