BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Firefighters are trying to stop a 10-square-mile wildfire that’s burning through primary sage grouse habitat in a remote part of southwest Idaho.
Nearly 200 firefighters backed by 10 aircraft, 17 fire engines and six bulldozers on Tuesday worked to contain the fast-moving fire that started Monday morning.
“The plan is to secure the dozer lines they have established and suppress any of the active flame,” said fire spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
She said the area contains grasslands and sage brush with scattered ranches. The area also contains top habitat for sage grouse, which are being considered for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Federal land managers earlier this year announced a wildfire strategy that included protecting sage grouse habitat from the massive wildfires that have been increasing in the last decade.
Bilbao noted fire managers have been responding with that in mind, and that accounted for the large amount of equipment and firefighters sent to the fire.
“It seems like a lot, but considering the fact that this is primary sage grouse habitat, it’s not surprising,” she said. “Also, this is our main fire we have going for the BLM.”
Two Rangeland Fire Protection Associations, made up of local residents, are also working to contain the blaze.
Bilbao said no structures have been lost but the search is on for cattle believed to have been grazing in the area when the fire started. The cause is under investigation.
Elsewhere in Idaho, officials with the Payette National Forest and Boise National Forest say lightning in the last 24 hours has sparked a dozen fires and crews are responding.
In northern Idaho, officials say numerous lightning caused fires have also started in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and crews are working to contain them while they’re still small.
Firefighters across the state are contending with low humidity and high temperatures. In southwest Idaho, a temperature around 100 is expected, as are more thunderstorms with potential lightning.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.