UPDATE: Rapidly Growing Soda Fire Continues to Threaten U.S. 95 at Idaho/Oregon Border 

click to enlarge The Soda Fire, as seen from the air on Thursday afternoon. The fire has burned almost 220,000 acres of Owyhee and Canon Counties, as well as parts of Oregon. - WILLOW GARNETT HILL
  • Willow Garnett Hill
  • The Soda Fire, as seen from the air on Thursday afternoon. The fire has burned almost 220,000 acres of Owyhee and Canon Counties, as well as parts of Oregon.
UPDATE: August 14, 2015  7 a.m.

The Soda Fire continues to be one of the largest wildfires in the U.S.. As of 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 13, it had grown to 218,000 acres. The fire spans a distance of more than 40 miles long and 10 miles wide, eight miles northeast of Jordan Valley. No evacuations are currently in place, and U.S. Highway 95 remains open, but may close periodically throughout the day. Fire crews are putting a special focus on sage grouse habitat and grazing land in the area.

Upper Reynolds Creek, as well as the Jump Creek Recreational site and all trailheads from Silver City to Jump Creek are currently closed. The roads to Silver City are also closed to anyone other than residents.

"We had a really successful day. With the additional 200 firefighters and weather that worked with us today, we made some great progress," said Operations Section Chief Jason Butler in a statement on Aug. 13.

Right now, there are more than 400 firefighters working to contain the Soda Fire. Some of those are from the Owyhee and Canon County fire departments, working to protect structures along the Snake River. As of Thursday evening, the fire was 11 percent contained. Crews expect to battle a strong, dry cold front today, which will bring with it moderate to gusting winds.

Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little offered some words to those impacted by the massive fire yesterday: 
"It has been devastating to watch the Soda Fire take over parts of Owyhee County throughout the past two days," he said in a statement. "Idaho families are doing all they can to protect their homes, their livestock and their livelihoods as this massive fire only continues to grow. As a lifelong Idaho rancher, I have seen in years past how fires like the one we have now affects families, and many of our communities. We Idahoans are known for stepping up and helping each other during tough times. I have observed this happening as people continue to offer the families at the forefront water and food, along with a place to shelter their animals. This is the community I am so proud to call my home. I would also like to personally thank the men and women who are risking their lives to stop the fire from growing even more. The fire crews extend to volunteer firefighters who have left their homes and families to help other families in need. Please keep these brave firefighters, the families, and all those affected by fires in our state, in your thoughts and prayers.”
click to enlarge The Soda Fire currently has more than 400 fire crews working to slow its growth. - INCIWEB
  • InciWeb
  • The Soda Fire currently has more than 400 fire crews working to slow its growth.
Two other counties in Idaho struggling with wildfire issued a state disaster declaration on Aug. 13, according to a news release from the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security. The Idaho and Lewis counties have continued to fight the Lawyer Complex Fire, burning more than 3,710 acres in north central Idaho. The fire started on Aug. 10 and has caused evacuations and road closures near Kamiah. 

The state disaster declaration will allow local governments the ability to access state and federal resources to assist them with the fight against the fire. 

"We are seeing some pretty extreme fire behavior, which is why I want to ensure that the local officials have whatever they need as they work to put the fire out and then transition to putting their communities back together," said Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in the news release.

More than 200 firefighters are now on scene to fight the West Scriver Fire burning 13 miles north of Crouch. The fire is around 600 acres and burning in extremely dry fuel conditions, snags and rough terrain. Hot and windy conditions are predicted today, and fire officials do not have an estimated containment at this time.

Five other fires in the Cascade Ranger District started on Aug. 13, all west of Warm Lake. The Cougar Fire is the most pressing, burning only three miles southwest of Warm Lake and 20 miles northeast of Crouch. Winds topped 40 miles per hour overnight. There are 52 firefighters working on the fire now, and the Trail Creek Hot Springs near Warm Lake is currently closed.



ORIGINAL POST: Thursday, Aug. 13 at 9:40 a.m.

Windy and extremely dry conditions, along with temperatures in the high 90s, won't make things any easier today for hundreds of firefighters on the scene of the 200,000-acre Soda Fire—so far, the region's largest wildfire of the season.

Officials have periodically closed and reopened nearby U.S. Highway 95 as the flames come perilously close to the highway. As of the morning of Aug. 13, Highway 95 was reopened but law enforcement warn travelers that the section of roadway could be closed at any time. Late Wednesday, the Owyhee County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation order for residents west of U.S. 95 from Market Road to Cemetery Road south of Homedale, but that evacuation order was lifted overnight.

Fire officials said the blaze was about 11 percent contained at sunrise, and they're advising motorists to use other routes of travel and avoid U.S. 95 if possible. If motorists must use U.S. 95, they are warned not to stop on the highway due to the fire's active behavior.

In the Boise National Forest, the West Scriver Fire has now burned approximately 500 acres 13 miles north of Crouch. Motorists have been able to spot smoke from Highway 55 near Smiths Ferry as 135 firefighters battle the blaze. Meanwhile, the Wolf Fire, eight miles east of Jackson Peak, has burned 52 acres with 48 firefighting personnel on the scene.


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