THOUSANDS OF ACRES CLOSED TO PUBLIC AS FIREFIGHTERS TRY TO STOP RAGING EAST IDAHO WILDFIRE
Thousands of acres have been closed to the public because of a raging wildfire near Dubois north of Idaho Falls.
The East Idaho Interagency Fire Center announced Sunday afternoon that they were closing a 12,500-acre area bordered by Interstate 15, Stoddard and Indian creeks and Pleasant Valley Road because of the large wildfire burning just south of the closed area.
The Fire Center said firefighters want to do work in the closed area to prevent the wildfire from spreading there, so they want everyone to leave that area. The now closed land is within the boundaries of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and is frequented by people hunting and camping.
The closed area could remain off limits to the public until Sept. 30, the Fire Center reported.
Despite the closure, authorities still maintain that firefighters are making progress in their efforts to extinguish the wildfire.
The blaze is no longer threatening houses but still grew by about 200 acres on Saturday and possibly grew even more on Sunday morning and afternoon.
The blaze ignited Wednesday evening about nine miles northwest of Dubois, a town north of Idaho Falls, and by Friday night the flames had scorched about 12,000 acres and caused many people to be evacuated.
On Saturday authorities said the wildfire had grown to 12,200 acres in size but firefighters were making progress and the blaze was about 50 percent contained.
Authorities said their “main concern” is that the wildfire could move to the east and impact the town of Spencer and ranches along the Interstate 15 corridor. The fire was threatening about 20 houses and several hunting camps on Friday but by Saturday night only one small structure remained threatened by the flames.
Firefighters successfully defended multiple structures from the fire on Saturday morning and afternoon despite winds of nearly 50 mph fueling the blaze. The high winds are expected to continue on Sunday.
The Fire Center on Saturday night said firefighters expected to have the wildfire fully contained by Wednesday but it’s unclear if that’s still the case.
Authorities said they’re still trying to determine what caused the wildfire, which is burning on private and Bureau of Land Management land.
The Stoddard Creek campgrounds as well as numerous people hunting and camping have been evacuated from the area. Pleasant Valley and Dry Creek roads have been shut down because the fire.
About 200 firefighters equipped with five bulldozers and 14 fire trucks are battling the blaze, which is burning in grass, brush and timber. The firefighters are being assisted by firefighting aircraft.
Authorities said firefighters have stopped the wildfire’s spread to the south and are trying to build fire lines along the blaze’s eastern and western flanks to keep the flames from spreading to the nearby houses and hunting camps.
There have been no reports thus far that the fire has caused any damage to structures or injuries to people.