BOISE — A wildfire advancing toward the small towns of Featherville and Pine has stalled — at least for now.
Fire officials say the reprieve gives crews a chance to take a more aggressive approach in attacking the Trinity Ridge Fire’s edges and interior during operations Thursday.
On Wednesday, authorities urged residents of the two communities to begin pre-evacuation measures as the blaze moved within four miles of Featherville. Dozens of residents began packing belongings and heading out of town.
The blaze started two weeks ago in the Boise National Forest and has scorched more than 108 square miles.
“Yesterday was more of a defensive mode for fire crews with the focus on protecting structures,” said Dave Olson, spokesman for the Boise National Forest. “Today, there will be more opportunities to be more aggressive.”
Olson said the thick plumes of smoke from the fire actually helped slow the fire’s spread on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Olson says crews have made progress on the Springs Fire near Banks. The blaze is now 75 percent contained.
Crews fighting 12 big fires hoped to take advantage of a brief break from extreme heat and strong winds to protect threatened homes and build lines around fire perimeters.
The advance of the Trinity Ridge Fire toward the small communities of Pine and Featherville stalled Wednesday, giving residents more time to protect their homes and cabins and prepare for a possible evacuation.
In eastern Idaho, growth of the Mustang Complex Fire slowed after days of rapid growth as flames quickly burned stands of timber killed by bark beetle infestation. The fires there have now burned more than 114 square miles and are moving northeast to within three miles of the Montana border.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter issued a disaster declaration Wednesday because of fire damage. The order clears the way for the Idaho National Guard to get involved in firefighting activities.
Officials said both fires are likely to continue burning until the fall before rain, snow or cooler temperatures move in to shut things down.