STANLEY — The Idaho Department of Transportation has closed an 11-mile section of State Highway 21 in central Idaho because of a wildfire burning near the road in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
Paul Sever of the Central Idaho Interagency Fire Center said the Banner Fire on Saturday approached the road and crews are using the highway as a firebreak and falling trees and clearing brush.
He said it’s unclear when the highway that connects Boise to the recreation area surrounding the tiny mountain town of Stanley will reopen. Sever said the closure starts about 15 miles west of Stanley.
He said 35 mph winds fanned the blaze that he estimated had grown to about 400 acres, or more than half a square mile, late Saturday.
Fire crews continued to pour into the region and numbered about 300 late Saturday and are expected to exceed 400 on Sunday, Sever said.
Helicopters and air tankers are also being used to battle the blaze that’s burning in timber in rugged terrain about 11 miles northwest of Stanley near Banner Summit.
“We’re aggressively going after it at this point,” Sever told The Associated Press on Saturday. “There’s quite a bit of area ahead of it.”
The fire has forced the closure of Lola Creek Campground, Marsh Creek Trailhead, and a Boy Scout camp. The Bradley Boy Scout Camp was unoccupied when the fire was reported Friday afternoon and will not be used while the fire is in the area. The fire is thought to be caused by lightning.
Sever said a Type 2 incident management team will take over management of the fire on Sunday. A Type 2 is a regional team with more experience dealing with larger, complex fires.
Sever said no one has been injured by the fire. He said officials are concerned the fire could advance toward the nearby Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
Lightning sparks more fires
A storm moving through Saturday afternoon produced numerous lightning strikes south of Mountain Home.
The lightning caused multiple fires.
Bureau of Land Management officials said the blazes were between 40 and 50 miles south of Mountain Home, with the largest at 500 acres and 120 acres.