NUMEROUS WILDFIRES SCORCHING EAST IDAHO: Firefighters, air tankers busy keeping up with blazes

August 18, 2018

Firefighters are trying to keep up with the numerous wildfires that have ignited in the East Idaho area during the past few days.

As of Saturday afternoon, firefighters had contained a large wildfire that ignited Thursday on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation and had caused the evacuation of nearly 50 houses. Firefighters had also contained numerous lightning-caused wildfires that ignited in East Idaho when thunderstorms barreled through the region on Friday night.

But a massive wildfire burning between Challis and Salmon, another that has crossed into Bear Lake County from northern Utah, and a new blaze north of Idaho Falls are still burning out-of-control.

Authorities said that newest wildfire ignited Saturday morning in the area of Highway 33 east of Sage Junction and about 25 miles north of Idaho Falls. As of Saturday afternoon the wildfire had scorched 200 acres but firefighters said they expect to have it fully contained Saturday night.

The fire has not caused any injuries to people or damage to structures. Authorities said the blaze is burning on flat terrain in grass and brush and has not caused any evacuations because the flames are not threatening any structures.

Fire officials said the wildfire was caused by lightning.

Firefighting aircraft are assisting firefighters on the ground in battling this blaze as well as the one that’s spread into Bear Lake County.

The wildfire currently burning in southeast Bear Lake County ignited on Thursday afternoon in northern Utah east of Bear Lake and since then has spread into both Bear Lake County and southwestern Wyoming.

The wildfire has destroyed two fire trucks and several power lines and is threatening ranches, homes and other structures in the area. Authorities have told residents who live near the wildfire to be prepared to evacuate. The fire is burning about six miles southwest of Cokeville, Wyoming.

As of Saturday afternoon, the blaze had scorched nearly 14,000 acres and was only 20 percent contained. There is no estimate on when the wildfire will be fully contained.

Authorities said the fire has not caused any injuries to people or damage to structures.

Over 100 firefighters are battling the blaze and authorities have issued a warning that scooper planes are landing on Bear Lake to get water to fight the fire and visitors to the lake should use caution. Numerous roads in the area of the wildfire have been shut down indefinitely.

Fire officials have not yet commented on what could have caused the wildfire.

The region’s other raging wildfire is also its largest. The blaze west of Highway 93 between Challis and Salmon has been burning since early August and authorities said Saturday afternoon that it has grown to over 34,500 acres and is zero percent contained.

The fire is also the only one currently burning in the region that has caused injuries. Two people helping firefighters suffered minor injuries during the wildfire’s first few days.

The blaze is threatening numerous houses and other structures and residents have been told to be prepared to evacuate if necessary. The wildfire is burning in higher elevation timber country and there is no estimate on when it will be fully contained.

Nearly 700 firefighters are battling the fire with help from firefighting aircraft and many roads in the area have been closed.

Lightning caused the wildfire — just like it did the several wildfires that ignited Friday night in East Idaho.

Friday night’s lightning-caused blazes ignited north of Dubois, west of McCammon and south of Interstate 86 between American Falls and Pocatello Regional Airport. The fires ranged in size from less than acre to 80 acres but authorities said they were all contained by Saturday afternoon and none caused any injuries to people, evacuations or damage to structures.

Fort Hall authorities have not yet said what caused the only current East Idaho fire that’s resulted in evacuations.

The blaze that ignited Thursday afternoon on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation east of the Interstate 15 Fort Hall exit resulted in nearly 50 houses being evacuated on Thursday evening.

Those residents were allowed to return to their homes on Friday morning when firefighters with help from numerous firefighting aircraft were able to get the upper hand on the 2,500-acre wildfire.

Fort Hall authorities reported Saturday afternoon that the fire was 100 percent contained and had not caused any injuries to people or damage to structures.

Update hourly