Fires burn across Idaho, Soda Fire shows only moderate activity

Several fires burning in central and southern Idaho are torching private and public lands.

The Soda Fire

The Soda Fire, burning northeast of Jordan Valley, Oregon, grew to more than 283,200 acres by Sunday but fire activity has been moderate, fire officials reported.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter issued a disaster declaration Saturday for Owyhee County so communities affected by the fire can get more assistance.

Overnight winds fueled the blaze Friday that had sparked Aug. 10 and drove it southeast, threatening residences in the areas of Bailey Road, Reynolds Road, China Ditch Road and Wilson Creek. The Owyhee County Sheriff’s Office asked residents to prepare for evacuation, but no mandatory evacuations were put into effect, officials said.

But cooler temperatures, inversion and decreased winds led to moderate fire activity Saturday. The fire is now about 25 percent contained, officials said.

Crews are working Sunday to secure firelines, patrol, mop up edges and seek out problem areas to prepare for incoming winds expected Monday.

About 860 personnel are fighting the fire with 11 helicopters, 34 engines, 12 water tenders and nine bulldozers. So far crews have been able to protect residences. No homes have been damaged by the fire as of Sunday, officials reported.

When the flames fanned out toward Highway 78 Friday, officials shut down the roadway Wilson Road east to Idaho 45 at Walter’s Ferry about 7:30 p.m. The highway was back open by Saturday, but officials warned travelers to drive carefully on that stretch.

The cause of the blaze is still undetermined, but possibly related to lightning.

The Cougar Fire

The Cougar Fire, burning 590 acres about 3 miles southwest of Warm Lake, torched trees Saturday, but didn’t expand rapidly, according to a Forest Service press release.

Helicopters dumped water on the blaze and were able to keep fire activity minimal, officials said.

The north end burned hot Sunday, and the blaze grew, but officials didn’t have an accurate up-to-date report of the acreage as of 7 p.m.

The fire is burning north toward Highway 22 so certain roadways have been shut down. Highway 22 could be closed at any time, so drivers are encouraged to take different routes or drive cautiously.

The West Scriver Fire

The blaze burning about 13 miles north of Crouch, is holding at about 600 acres, according to a Forest Service press release.

Crews advanced on the fire, forming a fire-line with bulldozers, engines and hand crews. They’ve made good progress, and the blaze was 40 percent contained as of Sunday, officials said.

Forest Service officials asked that the public avoid Packer John Road #689 since that’s the main way for personnel to get to the blaze.

The Tepee Springs Fire

The fire, burning about 4,100 acres 20 miles south of Riggins, is still at 0 percent containment. The fire spread moderately Saturday due to burning, rolling debris, according to a Forest Service release.

About four crews and three engines are working on the blaze that started on Wednesday due to lightning.

The Payette National Forest is closed in the vicinity and recreationists have been evacuated, according to the release. Public access is closed off past the cattle guard 1 mile north of Goose Lake and Goose Lake Road.

Officials are urging the public to drive slowly along Highway 95 from Tamarack Mill to Riggins since smoke is decreasing visibility and there is fire activity in the area.

The Wolf Fire

The fire has shown minimal activity as of Saturday. The Wolf Fire is burning about 55 acres 8 miles east of Jackson Peak and the hand line crews built appears to be keeping the fire at bay, according to a Forest Service press release.

The Clearwater Complex fires

In Idaho County, a 70-year-old woman was killed Friday when she fell while preparing to flee from a wildfire expanding quickly between Lewiston and Kamiah, the Idaho County Sheriff’s Department said Saturday.

Cheryl Lee Wissler, of Adams Grade, died from a head injury, authorities said. An estimated 30 homes and 75 other structures were lost to the Clearwater Complex fires, officials said. Those blazes are surrounding Kamiah, about 60 miles east of Lewiston, and burning to the edge of Clearwater River. They have charred more than 50 square miles.