Highway 20 reopens, Idaho town evacuated due to wildfire

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by KTVB.com

NWCN.com

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 5:26 PM

MOUNTAIN HOME -- The town of Prairie and the area of Fall Creek is now under a mandatory evacuation because of the Pony Complex Fire.

We are told residents can evacuate using Blacks Creek Road.

A shelter is in place for evacuated residents.  The Elmore County Sheriff's Office says evacuated residents can go to the Good Counsel Hall in Mountain Home.

This wildfire is especially dangerous because of how fast it's moving.

A 56-mile stretch of Highway 20 was closed most of the day from Mountain Home to Fairfield, but reopened around 3 p.m.

"The fire is growing with the wind and the terrain and they dry conditions and the heat," said Carrie Bilbao with the Boise BLM District.  "With the multiple starts and trying to get resources on them, it's been tough."

Right now all the focus is on the town of Prairie and the area around it as the Pony Complex fire continues to inch closer and closer to homes.  Our crew that was on the scene most of the day says the fire has burned to about one mile away from the town located about 50 miles east of Boise.

Elmore County Sheriff's deputies are going door-to-door talking to homeowners and letting them know that they are under a mandatory evacuation order.

Lightning started 11 fires overnight, forcing the closure of Highway 20 from the Pilot Truck Stop in Mountain Home to the Camas County line.

Ten outbuildings and barns have been destroyed because of these fires that have burned 30,000 acres.

The Pony Complex fire is estimated to cover about 39 square miles, stretching to the southwestern end of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

Many families trying to start vacations in the Sun Valley area were forced to turn around.

Some saw the storms roll through last night and decided to stay in Mountain Home before trying to continue their trip.

"This is the way we've gone before and then we noticed the lightning strikes last night and stopped for dinner and then they kept coming and kept coming, and we decided it probably wasn't a smart move to drive up last night," said Matt Edwards who was headed to Sun Valley.

"According to the road crew it's closed all the way so we're trying to figure out if there's a back way. It might be a little bit farther drive," said Jared Miller.

The Bureau of Land Management has 125 firefighters, 20 engines, eight dozers, six air tankers and a Type I and Type 2 management teams are on their way.

Wind continues to be the biggest problem for firefighters. Large plumes of smoke can be seen billowing from the hillsides, make visibility very poor.

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