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Idaho Wildfires: Widespread Destruction, Poor Air Quality, One Fatality


Snake River Hotshot Crew working near the fire line on August 14, 2015. - BOISE NATIONAL FOREST
  • Boise National Forest
  • Snake River Hotshot Crew working near the fire line on August 14, 2015.
The rash of wildfires in this region are having lasting effects far from the fire lines.

An orange air quality alert is in effect Sunday for the Treasure Valley as a blanket of smoke has triggered the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to warn the air is "unhealthy for sensitives groups," i.e. people with lung disease, infants and seniors.

The Soda Fire, which is burning eight miles northeast of Jordan Valley, Ore., at the Idaho/Oregon border, has scorched 283,686 acres. The fire is 25 percent contained, and the decreased winds and cooler temperatures helped the 860 firefighting personnel on scene make considerable progress on Saturday. As a precaution, the Owyhee County Sheriff's office has issued roads roads into Silver City, Idaho, closed to tourists and recreation vehicles but open to Silver City residents.

Eleven fires continue to burn in the Payette National Forest. Officials PNF report the Tepee Springs Fire 20 miles south of Riggins has consumed 4,137 acres in the vicinity of Tepee Springs and Hazard Creek. And additional firefighters were jet-boated into the scene of the Campbell's Ferry blaze along the Salmon River, which has grown to 400 acres.

In the Boise National Forest, the Cougar Fire has burned 590 acres three miles south of Warm Lake and 20 miles northeast of Cascade. Officials there say helicopters were able to make water-bucket drops through much of Saturday. The Valley County Sheriff's office recommends people do not travel the Warm Lake highway (Highway 22) because the road could be closed at any time. Meanwhile, the West Scriver Fire, burning 13 miles north of Crouch, has scorched 595 acres. Motorists continue to report seeing smoke from Crouch and Garden Valley or along Highway 55.

Fire is being blamed for the death of a north central Idaho woman. In Idaho County, 70-year-old Cheryl Wissler of Adams Grade was killed August 14 while preparing to flee from the Clearwater Complex fire. Fires there have destroyed 30 homes and 75 other structures.

This video was shot by the McCall Smokejumper while doing a recon on the fire. This is the TePee Springs Fire on the New Meadows Ranger District.

Posted by U.S. Forest Service - Payette National Forest on Sunday, August 16, 2015