Fires

Foothills fire near Avimor grows, but containment increases

Highway 55 Fire threatens Avimor homes

Firefighters from Eagle, Boise and BLM attack the Highway 55 Fire near the Avimor community of homes north of Eagle Tuesday July 26, 2016. The fire started along Idaho 55 late in the afternoon. Fire crews were able to create a fire line preventing
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Firefighters from Eagle, Boise and BLM attack the Highway 55 Fire near the Avimor community of homes north of Eagle Tuesday July 26, 2016. The fire started along Idaho 55 late in the afternoon. Fire crews were able to create a fire line preventing

Wednesday morning update: Eagle Fire Department Chief Mike Winkle said he was confident crews will contain the 440-acre fire near Avimor by Wednesday evening. If all goes well, crews expect the blaze will be controlled by Thursday evening, he said.

There wasn’t any fire activity by Wednesday morning, Winkle said, but they haven’t completed a containment line, and hot spots could flare up as the temperatures rise. The fire is 20 percent contained, as of 12:45 p.m. But it grew from 300 acres in the morning to 440 acres by the afternoon, according to a Bureau of Land Management tweet.

Related: Pioneer Fire approaching 10,000 acres.

“Obviously yesterday was the big push,” Winkle said. “We were able to get the fire knocked down by the evening.”

About 100 people are still on the fire, including units from all Eagle Fire stations and assistance from the Bureau of Land Management. Wednesday will be critical to keeping the fire at bay, Winkle said. But he said he is confident, with low winds predicted throughout the day, that crews will accomplish their goal. Half of the fire personnel at the scene may be able to leave by Thursday, he said.

None of the approximately five homes that were threatened Tuesday were damaged or destroyed. Part of that was due to excellent Firewise preparation by the residents themselves, he said.

“They've got great defensible space,” Winkle said.

Earlier reporting continues below:

Flames and firefighting planes came close to the Avimor subdivision Tuesday evening, but no homes were threatened and the active fire headed away from the development, officials said.

As of 8:30 p.m., the fire was 10 percent contained, burning in grass and brush, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management reports. Its leading edge was 50-percent active and heading northeast, away from homes, BLM reports.

The Highway 55 Fire grew fast in hot, dry conditions, going from 30 acres to 250 acres within a couple of hours and prompting intensive response from various agencies to protect structures. The fire began on private property and efforts were led by the Eagle Fire Department, but by 7:30 p.m. it had burned onto BLM land, the agency reports.

BLM, Eagle and Boise Fire Department crews fought the fire, and a hot-shot crew was called in from Vale, Ore.

Single-engine tankers and helicopters were called in to attack the blaze from the air, and firetrucks, bulldozers and hand crews also responded.

Initial reports indicated multiple small fires started within a half-mile area east of Idaho 55 shortly before 4:30 p.m., burning in light fuel with areas of heavier fuel, according to scanner chatter. It started near milemarker 52 off Idaho 55 north of Eagle, the BLM reports.

Investigators say the fire was human-caused but are still working to determine exactly how it started.

No evacuations were ordered, but access to the fire area was restricted, and Ada County reportedly advised Avimor residents not to enter unless necessary as the fire grew Tuesday evening.

Crews were expected to stay on the fire through the night, with the air attack resuming about 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Caleb Strough captured this video on Instagram of a plane dropping retardant on the Mile Marker 14 fire. The blaze along Idaho 21 east of Boise consumed 4,306 acres and three small outbuildings in in late July.

Erin Fenner contributed to this report.

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