- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Fire crews are working to prevent about 18 lightning-sparked fires in rugged terrain in the Boise National Forest from burning all summer.

“If there’s a big wind event, this fire could get a lot bigger,” said Jerry Rohnert, spokesman for the Whiskey Complex fires.

That’s why a Type 1 National Incident Management Team has been called in, he said, which took over Wednesday morning and has better access to equipment, supplies and personnel. The fires started Sunday and are listed as the top priority in the region.

Rohnert says air tankers were used Tuesday but smoke has prevented them from attacking the fire Wednesday. Two helicopters are making water drops.

The plan, he said, is for firefighters to put out the smaller fires that are 5 acres or less, and then concentrate on three larger fires, all east of Garden Valley.

The largest is about 1.5 square miles. Residents of about 70 homes in the area are under voluntary evacuation. No structures have been reported lost.

Smoke from the fires on Wednesday was moving into the Boise area.

Farther north in central Idaho, the lightning-caused Preacher Fire has scorched nearly 50 square miles in two days burning quickly through grass and brush. But fire managers on Wednesday said they had made good progress and estimated the blaze would be contained by late Thursday.

“Things are looking really good today,” said fire spokeswoman Kelsey Dehoney.

She said the fire southwest of Carey is burning mostly in land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and includes some grazing allotments. But she said no range animals have been killed by fire that’s been fanned by erratic winds.

Seventeen miles east of Lowman, smokejumpers and a hot shot crew are working on the remote Blue Jay Fire, which is at about 100 acres.

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