Popular Idaho travel route open despite wildfire
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A wildfire in southwestern Idaho about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Boise grew on Friday, but officials say a heavily traveled north-south route that connects urban populations with outdoor recreation areas is open.
Officials said the fire near Gardena grew to 5.5 square miles (14 square kilometers) but that Idaho Highway 55 is open in both directions.
Officials say motorists shouldn’t stop along the road and may encounter limited visibility due to smoke as well as rolling rocks and other debris.
“It’s certainly very important that (Highway 55) is open,” said fire spokeswoman Mary Fritz of the Idaho Department of Lands. “But it’s a tough one. It’s a narrow canyon.”
About 160 firefighters are battling the fire that started Wednesday evening and is burning in timber and grass. Its cause is under investigation.
Idaho Power meanwhile has restored electricity to all but about 30 of the nearly 3,000 customers who lost power Thursday due to damaged power poles.
In west-central Idaho a wildfire near the small community of Pollock is about 5 square miles (13 square kilometers), and some residents were warned of the possible need for evacuation.
About 425 firefighters are battling that blaze on the west side of U.S. Route 95 about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Riggins. The fire in timber and grass started at about noon on Monday. Its cause is under investigation.
Authorities said the road is open, but motorists could have reduced visibility due to smoke in the canyon corridor.
Officials said hot, dry conditions and gusty winds in the rugged area will likely push the fire south.
In southwestern Idaho, a fast-moving rangeland wildfire burning in grass and brush on Friday was measured at 95 square miles (246 square kilometers), but firefighters appeared to be getting the upper hand as crews put in lines to stop the fire from spreading.
“Things are starting to look good out there,” said fire spokeswoman Kelsey Brizendine.
She said 11 aircraft, including helicopters and airplanes, are fighting the lightning-caused blaze that is burning between the Bruneau and Jarvis canyons and in the canyons. Officials say structures in the sparsely populated area are not immediately threatened.
Firefighters on Friday planned to focus on the northwest and southwest corners where the most active fire remains, Brizendine said.