The South Slope Fire that threatened several homes near Freezeout Hill in Gem County Thursday was under control Friday evening, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management reports.
And the much larger North Highway 52 Fire, about 6 miles north of Emmett, was 70 percent contained by Friday evening but had consumed about 10,700 acres of brush on rocky terrain, BLM spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao said. Its most active area Friday was on the northeast end of Squaw Butte, she said.
No containment or control estimates have been set yet, but firefighters will continue working on that fire overnight and at least all day Saturday, Bilbao said.
The North Highway 52 Fire was reported about 12:30 p.m. Thursday near milepost 43 of Idaho 52 and grew rapidly amid grass and brush. The fire appears to have been caused by a large bird, possibly a hawk or eagle, on a power line, Bilbao said.
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About 165 people in various capacities are fighting the fire, Bilbao said, and Gem County Fire Districts 1 and 2 have “helped tremendously” with structure protection and firefighting. The Black Canyon Rural Fire Protection Association also helped, working with ranchers to get their livestock out of the fire’s path.
About 10 miles away near the Gem/Ada county line, the South Slope Fire was remeasured at 63 acres Friday, down from 150 acres, due to better mapping once the flames were under control. Crews focused their efforts Thursday night on protecting several homes on the east side of the blaze from the fire’s path; no structures were damaged.
Another sizable brush fire, this one in Owyhee County, broke out Thursday morning north of Murphy and was contained by 10 a.m. Friday, with full control that evening. The fire covered about 240 acres, Bilbao said.
The Griffy and South Slope fires are both believed to be human-caused, but the specific causes are under investigation, she said.
No new wildfires broke out on BLM land Friday, she said. With dry brush and temperatures expected in the triple digits for at least the next week, officials anticipate that fire suppression will be difficult and urge people to be extra careful outdoors.
And the BLM and other agencies urge people to resist the temptation to send private drones over wildfires to get a bird’s eye view of the action.
“If a UAS (unmanned aircraft system) is detected flying over or near a wildfire, we will stop air tankers from dropping fire retardant, helicopters from dropping water, and other aerial firefighting aircraft from performing wildfire suppression missions until we can confirm that the UAS has left the area and we are confident it won’t return,” said Steve Gage, U.S. Forest Service representative on the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. “Unfortunately, this could decrease the effectiveness of wildfire suppression operations, allowing wildfires to grow larger, and in some cases, unduly threaten lives and property.”
Members of the public flying drones disrupted wildfire operations in southern California twice this week, officials said.