- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A dozen aircraft and more than 130 firefighters worked on Wednesday to contain three central Idaho wildfires sparked by lightning before they become so large they’ll be impossible to put out until the end of the fire season.

“All three of the fires that we have going right now we have crews on doing aggressive initial attack,” said Boise National Forest spokesman David Seesholtz said.

He said late Wednesday that cooler temperatures, light winds and cloud cover helped fire crews on all three blazes.

A 20-acre fire about 3 miles from Idaho City is the most concerning because it’s in heavy timber and about a mile from a phone tower. If the fire reaches the canopy, it could move quickly, he said.

“Right now we’re doing OK with the resources we have today,” Seesholtz said.

A 66-acre fire near Pilot Peak is less worrisome because it’s moved to the top of a ridge.

“It’s not a very clean fire,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of resources to mop it up.”

A third fire northwest of Prairie and south of Arrowrock Reservoir has burned about 175 acres in steep country. However, the area has burned previously.

Seesholtz said that it’s important to quickly get the fires contained because the last week of July and first several weeks of August is the peak of the fire season for the region, with lightning strikes one of the main fire starters.

Meanwhile, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise on Monday upped its National Preparedness to level 4, one step below its top level. Level 4 means three or more geographic areas are requiring higher level incident management teams and there’s competition between geographic areas for firefighting resources.

“We’re having to move more resources because we have more fires that are large in size,” said Jessica Gardetto, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman at the center.

The center says that through Tuesday, nearly 6 million acres have burned nationally in wildfires, which is about 2 million acres more than the 10-year average at this point in the fire season.

However, Gardetto said, the vast majority of those burned acres - about 5 million - have been in Alaska, while the lower 48 is so far having a somewhat below-average fire season. But that could change, she said, with more than two months left in the fire season.


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