The Owyhee County Sheriff’s Office is advising residents along Graveyard Point and Thompson roads to evacuate, a dispatcher confirmed Wednesday afternoon. Retardant is being dropped in the area to protect homes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
About 5 p.m., US 95 closed from the Marsing weigh station in Idaho to Jordan Valley, Ore., and authorities encouraged people to avoid the highway if possible because of intense fire activity. That stretch of 95 previously was closed from late Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning after the fire jumped the highway.
The Soda Fire, likely started by lightning, has surpassed 200,000 acres and is still growing, the BLM said about 7 p.m. Wednesday. About 25,000 acres have burned in Oregon, where the BLM warned the fire could threaten the cities of Adrian and Nyssa.
With steep terrain and visibility issues, firefighters are having difficulty containing the fire.
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“Multiple breakouts spreading as fast as 1.5 miles in 8 minutes and having spot fires growing to 1000 acres in 10 minutes shows how fast this fire is moving,” the BLM said in an evening news release. “With structures in the area crews are putting a lot of effort into protecting structures and property.”
Fire information will be posted at the intersection of highways 55 and 95, and at the fire’s incident command post at the Homedale Armory.
A Type II incident management team will take over management of the fire Thursday, and more ground and air resources are expected, the BLM said. BLM resources from Oregon and members of the Owyhee Rangeland Fire Protection Association are helping to fight the flames, and air support has been at the scene since early on.
Steep terrain and visibility issues have posed a challenge to firefighters, who are trying to both contain more of the fire and keep areas already within fire lines from breaking out. The BLM cited incidents of breakouts where fire spread a mile and a half in eight minutes.
The Jump Creek recreation site has been closed, and the BLM advises the public to stay away from the Reynolds Creek area and surrounding recreational sites.
Meanwhile, five new lightning-related fires were started by thunderstorms moving through Southwest Idaho Tuesday afternoon, the BLM reports. Small fires burned near Mountain Home, southwest of Grandview and southeast of Silver City.
To the north, managers of both the Boise and Payette national forests also reported fire activity caused by lightning, though the fires involved were mostly small. The largest fire in the Boise National Forest was the 300-acre West Scriver Fire, 13 miles north of Crouch in the Southern Idaho Timber Protection Association’s jurisdiction. The only active fire in the national forest Wednesday was is the Bridge Fire, near Silver Creek Lookout, and it was contained at 2 p.m., officials said.
The Payette National Forest reported firefighters continued to be busy fighting six small fires. It also sent resources to help with the West Scriver Fire.