Fires are burning across Idaho and the Northwest. Though smoke has lifted in the Treasure Valley, it’s still thick in the air in parts of northern Idaho.
Wildfires are winding down in some areas, but the region still has a long way to go before the end of fire season is in sight.
EVACUATIONS IN EFFECT NEAR RIGGINS
The Tepee Springs Fire grew from 48,000 acres Saturday to 79,570 acres Sunday, with some flames jumping north across the Salmon River, according to fire officials
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The Nez Perce National Forest was closed down to the public except for the the Palouse Ranger District.
The fire is now 2 miles east of Riggins, according to fire officials.
Residents near Riggins have been told to evacuate amid two days of aggressive growth, and the fire also prompted the emergency closure Thursday of nearly 18 miles of the Lower Salmon River to all recreational use. The Idaho County Sheriff’s Office initially diverted rafters at French Creek and sent them onto Forest Road 246, leading to McCall. But by Friday morning that road was also closed, and rafters were being intercepted at Vinegar Creek, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced.
A pilot car is being employed to lead vehicles from Riggins into and out of the area.
The fire dropped to 25 percent containment Sunday, according to the BLM’s report on InciWeb. Fire managers say the fire made runs through the tops of trees and had long-range spotting with embers shooting out ahead.
More than 800 firefighters are working to protect structures, put in fire lines and use burnouts along U.S. Highway 95 and the Salmon River.
U.S. 95 remains open, but officials said motorists should be alert for fire equipment moving on the highway.
Food and water is being sent up Vinegar Creek for floaters who have been held up due to fire activity.
Residents can learn more about evacuations by calling the Adams County Sheriff at 208-253-4227, the Idaho County Sheriff at 800-922-9141 or for the Grangeville area, 208-983-1100.
OTHER IDAHO FIRES
In North Idaho, a group of blazes, now dubbed the Clearwater-Municipal-Motorway North Complex that earlier destroyed 42 homes near Kamiah is now 75 percent contained and at about 130 square miles.
Due to hazardous conditions, large portions of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest are being shut down to public use. Recreationists in the area need to relocate and anyone planning a trip in that direction is asked to find an alternative destination.
The Rapid Fire has burned 6,954 acres in subalpine and mixed conifer forest about 12 miles southeast of McCall as of Sunday. It is 40 percent contained. The fire grew about 1,000 acres due to winds and heavy fuel Thursday. Air support crews worked to strengthen containment lines around the southern part of the fire over the weekend.
The 1,237-acre Cougar Fire, about 20 miles northeast of Cascade in Valley County,was about 92 percent contained as of Sunday. Fire crews continue to be released, though fire managers remained watchful for strong winds, which reached gusts of 30 mph Saturday, that could scatter embers outside the containment lines. Higher humidity Sunday was predicted to help crews contain the blaze.
The Campbells Fire was reported at 7,576 acres Sunday in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness southeast of Dixie. It is burning through timber in Fall, Ruf, Moore and Trout creeks, and now includes Burnt Knob. Crews are doing structure protection at Campbells Ferry.
The Treasure Valley’s air quality, unhealthy early in the week, is expected to hold steady at yellow (moderate) through Monday, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality reports.
But much of the rest of the state is still impaired by smoke from fires across the region. Air quality in Moscow, Lewiston and Grangeville was listed as red (unhealthy) through the weekend.