FEATHERVILLE, Idaho -- Idaho's governor has activated the national guard in response to at least nine major wildfires burning across Idaho, including the 68,000-acre Trinity Ridge Wildfire in Elmore County.
The Trinity Ridge Fire has blackened more than 100-square-miles of the Boise National Forest and is currently threatening the small communities of Featherville and Pine.
In a Thursday morning update, officials from the Boise National Forest said the fire thankfully hadn't burned much closer to Featherville overnight. Instead, they say the fire expanded west, overtaking the western ridge of Sheep Mountain.
Also on Thursday, flames passed through the tiny community of Rocky Bar, Idaho without damaging any of the half-a-dozen buildings located there. Cooler temperatures and lower winds on Friday are expected to keep the fire at bay, at least temporarily.
Sheriff's deputies say that means they'll open area roads to residents and homeowners from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday. A community meeting regarding the status of the fire is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. at the Idaho City Town Hall.
On Wednesday, the Elmore County Sheriff's Office closed nearby roads to all incoming, non-emergency traffic, and instructed nearby residents to collect all important belongings and prepare for evacuation. The move came after the fire grew significantly Tuesday night. All roads near Atlanta, Idaho were also closed.
On Wednesday, Dave Olson with the Boise National Forest told KTVB he believed the wildfire would eventually reach the community of Featherville.
However, Thursday, officials with the fire's overhead incident command team said they were uncertain if the fire would reach the town or not.
The reason: they say the fire's forward progress slowed overnight on Wednesday due to favorable weather.
"The weather we had yesterday was not as harsh as we predicted," said public information officer Steve Till. "The good news is the fire was less active than we thought it would be, so it's given us some more time."
Till says that means residents and homeowners will have more time to prepare a possible evacuation. In the meantime, he says firefighters will continue to clear brush and hazardous items from around homes, along with trimming trees. More than 900 personnel are currently fighting the fire.
NATIONAL GUARD ACTIVATED
When Idaho's governor signed a disaster declaration on Wednesday, he effectively allowed the Idaho Department of Lands to trigger its agreement with the Idaho National Guard to provide additional support to fire crews. That means Idaho Emergency Operations Center has been activated and will be issuing assignments to the Idaho National Guard.
Authorities in Elmore County have also requested that the Bureau of Homeland Security pursue federal assistance to help protect threatened property and communities near the Trinity Ridge Fire.
Officials expect the fire to keep growing on Saturday and Sunday due to forecast higher temperatures and winds in the area. For more information, see the InciWeb Trininty Ridge Fire website.
Location: Five miles west of Garden Valley, Idaho
Size: 6,150 acres
Percent Contained: 75%
Estimated Containment Date: Monday August 20th
Notes: A fire update meeting has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Garden Valley incident command center. The public is asked to use caution when traveling on Highway 55 and Banks Lowman Road due to the heavy fire traffic. For more information, see the Inciweb Springs Fire website.
Location: Salmon-Challis Nat'l Forest, 18 miles north of Stanley, Idaho
Size: 77,251 acres
Percent Contained: 3%
Estimated Containment Date: Tuesday October 16th
Notes: The Main Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River remain open although some of the access points have been closed. Most forest service Roads are closed throughout this area. Several campgrounds have been evacuated. For more information, see the Inciweb Halstead Fire website.
Mustang Complex fires
Location: Wilderness terrain approximately 50 miles west of Salmon, Idaho
Size: 85,537 acres
Percent Contained: 3%
Estimated Containment Date: N/A
Notes: The Salmon River Road is reopened on Thursday, after having closed at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15. Pilot cars are guiding traffic.
River recreationists should check in at the North Fork Ranger Station at the intersection of U.S. 93 and Salmon River Road for the latest updates on closures and road conditions in this area. For general fire information, contact the fire information center at 877-356-8984. Visit the Mustange Complex Fire InciWeb homepage here.
Minidoka Complex Fire
(Cave Canyon Fire, Hot Well Fire, Deer Hollow Fires)
Location: Oakley, Idaho
Size: 97,616 acres
Percent Contained: 87%
Estimated Containment Date: Saturday August 18th, 2012
Notes: Firefighters have contained the Hot Well Fire. The Cave Canyon Fire and Deer Hollow Fires continue to burn. Evacuation orders have been lifted near the community of Rock Canyon. For more information, see the Inciweb Minidoka Complex Fire website.