- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

IDAHO CITY, Idaho (AP) - More than 1,400 firefighters are battling a blaze in rugged terrain in southwest Idaho that grew to 66 square miles Tuesday and has destroyed a state-operated backcountry yurt.

Officials say the timber-fueled fire grew by about 5 square miles and is 28 percent contained with full containment not expected until mid-September.

About 35 homes were under pre-evacuation orders, though not immediately threatened.

Crews on Tuesday planned to build fire lines and use previous wildfire burn scars to try to prevent the fire from moving farther north, though winds could force firefighters back as has happened in recent days.

“It’s a little unpredictable so we have some contingency plans if we have to pull them out of there,” said fire spokesman Dave Chevalier.

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.

The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation has five other yurts it manages as part of an agreement with the Boise National Forest, and several remain threatened.

“We are really concerned about the loss of recreation opportunity in the area,” said Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Jennifer Okerlund. “The trail system is heavily used by folks in both summer and winter.”

She said Parks and Recreation met with U.S. Forest Service officials Monday and federal officials said the partnership is still intact and both entities would work to make sure backcountry yurt opportunities are available in the future.

Ten helicopters were supporting ground crews as well as drops by retardant bombers. More than 50 fire engines and eight bulldozers were also taking part.

Two firefighters have been pulled off the lines, one because of burns when fuel spilled on him. He was treated at a Boise hospital and is recuperating at his parents’ home in Boise.

Chevalier said another firefighter had to leave with abdominal pains.


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