- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IDAHO CITY, Idaho (AP) - Firefighters are setting up sprinkler systems to protect buildings in the central Idaho town of Lowman as a wildfire on Wednesday expanded to 75 square miles.

Officials said slightly cooler weather and winds from the northwest should help firefighters trying to prevent flames from reaching the small town.

“There’s a structure protection group that is going around to all the homes in Lowman, assessing them, and clearing around the homes,” said fire spokeswoman Jennifer Myslivy.

She said there are no evacuation notices. A community meeting with fire officials is planned Wednesday evening.

Nearly 1,500 firefighters are battling the blaze burning timber in rugged terrain.

Fire crews have repeatedly had to abandon fire lines as the fire moved north, but Myslivy said crews are trying to build another fire line using a prescribed burn from the spring near Lowman.

She said firefighters called in to put in fire lines include Type 1 Hotshot crews, considered among the most elite firefighting crews.

“It’s hot and dry, the winds are just kind of pushing it,” Myslivy said. “With that fuel it’s hard for the fire fighters to get the upper hand. It’s just making hard pushes through that fuel.”

The fire has destroyed a state-operated backcountry yurt. The $60,000 yurt is a round, tent-like structure with a dome roof and plastic skin. It’s not clear what day it was destroyed.

There are six yurts in the system that the state operates on the Boise National Forest under an agreement with the Forest Service and that are booked months in advance for winter use by backcountry skiers.

At least two other yurts have survived, but firefighters have not made it to the other three to check on their condition.

State Highway 21 is closed from 6 miles north of Idaho City to south of Lowman.

Officials estimate the fire won’t be contained until mid-September.

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