The fourth straight day of 100-degree heat in Southwest Idaho kept fire crews hopping.
Firefighters responded to nearly a dozen lightning-caused fires in the Payette National Forest, and the Boise National Forest got its first significant action of the summer after Monday's lightning storm left five small blazes in its wake. For the second consecutive day, a range fire closed a section of Interstate 84, causing major congestion for travelers between Boise and Twin Falls.
Tuesday's forecast had called for 102 degrees, but smoke and haze from Monday's fires might explain why the temperature hit just 100, and that came late in the day, the National Weather Service said. That haze meant a yellow (moderate) air-quality alert for the Treasure Valley on Tuesday.
The Weather Service says temps will be at or above 100 through Friday - a seven-day stretch that would still fall short of the record nine days, recorded in July 2003 and July 2006.
Three small fires near Boise County's Clear Creek Subdivision along Idaho 21 at Grimes Creek prompted fire officials to issue a voluntary evacuation request. The 8-acre Avelene Fire was within a half-mile of structures, according to a news release from the Boise National Forest.
Engines from the Idaho Department of Lands, the Forest Service, and Clear Creek and Wilderness Ranch fire departments responded. Two helicopters and two single-engine air tankers worked the fire until darkness, and a 20-person hot-shot crew was en route at about 8:30 p.m.
Two other fires - Clear Creek 2 and Clear Creek 3 - started nearby. Both were smaller than five acres late Wednesday, as higher humidity mitigated the flames. The causes of all three are under investigation.
The C Fire, about 10 miles east of Donnelly, burned about 100 acres by late Tuesday afternoon. The U.S. Forest Service has 25 firefighters working that fire with support from a helicopter, officials said.
Earlier Tuesday, a one-car rollover crash started the 2,000-acre-plus MM 66 range fire just off Interstate 84 east of Boise. The car ignited grass north of I-84 around 1 p.m. near the weigh station at milepost 66. Both westbound lanes of I-84 were closed from about 3 to 4:30 p.m., with intermittent closures and one open lane for much of the rest of the afternoon.
A motor home caught fire during morning rush hour traffic on Eagle Road in Meridian near Fairview Avenue. Meridian police officials say the driver noticed smoke coming from the engine of the RV and pulled over to the side of the road when the engine caught fire just after 7:30 a.m.
Fire crews put out the blaze before it spread, but the RV had significant damage, and traffic was delayed in the northbound lanes of Eagle Road until about 9 a.m.
BLM fire crews spent much of the day Tuesday mopping up the Benwalk Fire, which burned 25,000 acres of grass-filled desert off I-84 Monday and Tuesday near Mountain Home. The BLM expects the fire to be contained by 10 a.m. Wednesday. Benwalk closed I-84 from about 6:30 p.m. Monday until after midnight as firefighters worked to protect the travel service center at exit 95 in Mountain Home at the junction of I-84 and U.S. 20, which includes gas stations, a motel and restaurants. None of those buildings sustained significant damage and were open for business Tuesday morning.
A steady wind fueled the Kinyon Road Fire across nearly 340 square miles of grass and sagebrush in south-central Idaho over the past three days. It's the biggest fire in Idaho. The Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday the fire had stopped spreading and was 75 percent contained after burning 216,050 acres. The lightning-caused wildfire that started on Saturday was expected to be fully contained by early Wednesday.
The lightning-sparked 13,000-acre South Indian Fire was controlled Tuesday night, and Bruneau Dunes State Park was to reopen Wednesday.
The other large fire in the BLM's Boise District is on the south edge of the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness. The Jacks fire has burned about 20,000 acres and the BLM said a control time is unknown.
)2012 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)
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