BOISE — Firefighters gained ground on a number of wildfires across the West but struggled in southern Idaho, where winds fanned a fast-moving blaze across nearly 300 square miles of sagebrush and dry grass, and other fires – including a fast moving fire near Mountain Home — closed portions of Interstate 84, authorities said Monday.

And with more 100-degree plus temperatures predicted for today, accompanied by lightning strikes and more winds, it may not get easier. Treasure Valley residents should brace for another day of bad air quality in the “yellow” category as smoke from area fires settle in.

More than 200 firefighters were working Monday to contain the fast-moving Kinyon Road Fire near Twin Falls that was among the largest in the nation. Another 75 firefighters were headed to the Kinyon Road fire that was sparked by a Saturday lightning storm and had spread to 190,000 acres. The fire had been threatening six homes in the Castleford area, west of Twin Falls, early Monday but was no longer considered a threat by the afternoon.

The wildfire had spread on the Saylor Creek bombing range, a training space operated by the Mountain Home Air Force Base, by Monday afternoon but was not threatening any structures.

A steady, 20 mph wind from the east has been pushing the blaze northwest, where firefighters are now focusing their efforts, officials with the Bureau of Land Management said.

“The fire has been pretty well laid down near Castleford,” said BLM spokeswoman Heather Tiel-Nelson.

Crews had hoped to contain the blaze late Sunday when a storm cell moved in, bringing some rain but also increased winds. The region's grass and sagebrush also have provided readily available fuel for the wildfire, which was 40 percent contained.

"The wind has been a big factor," Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kyli Gough said. "With these light fuels being the way they are, even a small amount of wind can pick up the fire and move it pretty quickly."

A 56-year-old man treated Sunday for a heat-related illness has been released from a Twin Falls hospital and is expected to rejoin his firefighting crew Tuesday, officials said.

 

MOUNTAIN HOME

A lightning strike seven miles north of Glen's Ferry at around 4 p.m. Monday sparked a fire that quickly grew and reached Mountain Home in a few short hours, BLM spokeswoman Mallory Eils said.

The Benwalk fire burned an estimated 15,000 acres and led to closing of I-84 in both directions between milepost 99 and 121. As of 11 p.m. Monday, I-84 remained closed.

The fire prompted evacuations at several businesses and closed a portion of Highway 20 for several hours. The road and businesses were later reopened.

There are 18 engines, five crews, six dozers, two water tenders and resources from Mountain Home Rural Fire Department working to fight the blaze along with air support.

 

OREGON

The National Weather Service has issued "red flag" warnings for much of Central and Eastern Oregon, which means conditions are lined up for fires to ignite. Those conditions include lightning in the forecast and dry conditions on the ground, along with warm and windy weather.

Lightning strikes were blamed for the Long Draw Fire, a blaze about 20 miles south of Burns Junction, Ore., that torched approximately 30,000 acres and closed portions of Highway 95 as flames ran parallel to the road, BLM officials said. The road was reopened later Monday night and closed again when winds changes resulted in dangerous driving conditions.

The state has two large wildfires. A 290-acre blaze in Grant County, east of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, is about half contained, while gusty winds are pushing a the Miller Homestead fire west of Frenchglen. That fire was estimated at five percent contained and up to 5,000 acres Monday afternoon.

 

OTHER FIRES

Firefighters made progress in California, Utah, Wyoming Colorado and Montana, where the country's biggest wildfire is burning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The 250,000-acre Ash Creek Fire in southeastern Montana was 90 percent contained and expected to be fully contained later Monday.

But the victory could be short-lived. Lightning, heat and 50 mph wind gusts are forecast to sweep into central and southeastern Montana later this week. Also burning in southeastern Montana was the Taylor Creek Fire, which has charred more than 62,000 acres about 12 miles southeast of Fort Howes. That fire was 65 percent contained.

In northern California, a wildfire burning near a main highway in the eastern Sierra Nevada was more than 85 percent contained.

The 1,103-acre blaze west of Highway 395 was spotted Saturday and briefly threatened about 300 homes but had no active flames early Monday. With the Inyo County area expected to see strong winds and high temperatures early this week, crews were concentrating on dousing hotspots to avoid flare-ups

Crews battling the Sites Complex Fire near the farming community of Maxwell in Colusa County were hoping to take advantage of lighter winds. The fire, which started Sunday, has consumed about 1,600 acres and was 10 percent contained.

Several miles to the west, a wildfire in the Mendocino National Forest was estimated at around 2,500 acres and led to the closure of campgrounds and the evacuation of a handful of homes early Monday. That fire was 10 percent contained.

In Utah, cooler temperatures and rain helped firefighters gain the upper hand on the state's largest active wildfire. The 108,000-acre Clay Springs Fire in Millard and Juab counties was 91 percent contained, officials said. The weather helped crews move a string of other wildfires in Utah closer to containment.

Rain and cooler weather helped the fight against wildfires burning in Wyoming.

The largest of those fires was roughly 150 square miles and burning northwest of Wheatland. Rainfall over the weekend allowed firefighters to attack parts of the Arapaho fire that were previously inaccessible, and it was 75 percent contained.

In Colorado, wet conditions made Gov. John Hickenlooper confident enough to lift a statewide fire ban he ordered last month. Amid recent widespread rainfall, extreme fire conditions eased in all of Colorado's 64 counties.

The rain, however, brought its own problems. One of the main highways to Leadville was closed after the road washed out following heavy rains that also caused a mudslide in northern Colorado. One lane was re-opened by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a highway near the High Park burn area in northern Colorado has reopened after the third mudslide in as many days. Colorado Highway 14 in Poudre Canyon was closed for about three hours Monday morning because of a slide that was 5 feet high and 200 feet wide.

In Washington state, the U.S. Forest Service said a 675-acre wildfire between Entiat and Chelan was human-caused. The fire began Thursday and grew Saturday as hot temperatures and low humidity arrived in the region. However, the blaze in Navarre Coulee was 75 percent contained after burning areas of steep terrain.

 

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