- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

LOWMAN, Idaho (AP) - A state highway reopened Tuesday morning after being closed by a wildfire for more than two weeks, and the evacuation level for a small town in mountainous central Idaho has been lowered.

Officials opened State Highway 21 south of Lowman to Idaho City after Idaho Transportation Department workers cleared hazard trees along some 25 miles of the road. However, drivers are being warned not to stop along the highway because of heavy smoke in the region.

Fire officials say cooler temperatures and mild winds Monday and Tuesday are helping the 1,600 firefighters battling the 100-square-mile blaze that started July 18. As of Tuesday, the fire had only grown by 989 acres in the last 24 hours, fire spokesman Josh Thompson said.

“This is the first day the increase has been less than a thousand for quite a while,” Thompson said.

Boise County authorities also reduced the evacuation level for about 120 homes in the Lowman area to the lowest level, advising residents to just be alert.

However, the Banks-Lowman Road to the west of Lowman remains closed with fire burning on both sides of the road. Rocks have been falling onto the road due to the fire, making the steep hillsides unstable.

“From what I hear there is a lot coming down,” Thompson said.

Firefighters are currently working to get lines around the blaze.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, based in Boise, six wildfires in Idaho have burned more than 121 square miles in 2016. Only California has had more wildfires burn more land this year than Idaho.

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