ADAMS COUNTY -- The Wesley Fire is growing in the Payette National Forest near the town of New Meadows. The flames were sparked by lighting on Sunday and have now charred about 4,000 acres in the nearby mountains. Fire and smoke can be seen driving on U.S. Highway 95 and Idaho Highway 55 from Council, New Meadows and McCall.
The town of New Meadows and the Meadows Valley are filled with smoke from the fire.
"We had two positive strikes that ended up causing two fires to grow together, which now is the Wesley Fire," said fire information officer La Dawn Saxton from the Payette National Forest.
On Tuesday, winds blew the fire north toward New Meadows. The fire is miles outside town, but smoke is filling the air.
"We have smoke in the valley and it's impacting all the communities around - Council, New Meadows, McCall, clear north to Riggins," said Saxton.
Saxton expects the smoke to hang around for several weeks unless they get some kind of precipitation.
"There are a lot of people complaining about the smoke, giving them headaches, and having some difficulty breathing," said Jessi Martin who works at New Meadows City Hall.
Martin said Tuesday was the worst day for smoke yet. "There are a lot of phone calls being made to City Hall asking questions regarding the fire," Martin said. "And the Forest Service has been really great about getting us information in regards to the fire situation."
Activity picks up in New Meadows this time of year as hunting season starts.
"This time of year we have archery season going on, it's a very popular area," said Saxton.
Crews brought more than 60 hunters and campers out of the fire area. People in New Meadows have faith their town will be safe.
"I think the fire crews know what they're doing and they're going to do a great job in taking care of the fire," Martin said.
Saxton said air resources are key to fighting the Wesley Fire. It is in a steep, remote location with few access roads.
The Forest Service is working with folks from town to set up community meetings. The first one is scheduled for Thursday evening at Salmon River High School in Riggins. It starts at 7 p.m.