Wildfire in east-central Idaho threatening homes, watershed

July 26, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — More than 800 wildland firefighters and support staff are battling a blaze in east-central Idaho that officials say is threatening homes, an important north-south corridor, energy infrastructure, recreation opportunities and the municipal watershed for the town of Salmon.

The Moose Fire on Tuesday grew to nearly 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) burning grass, timber understory and dead and down material in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. It’s only 10% contained.

Firefighters are protecting structures in several areas as well as the U.S. Highway 93 corridor, a major north-south route. Two helicopter pilots fighting the fire died last week when their CH-47D Series “Chinook” crashed in the Salmon River. Plans call for removing the helicopter from the river with a large crane.

The cause of the fire that started July 17 is undetermined. High temperatures and very dry relative humidity are hampering efforts to control the blaze. Smoke has also been a problem.

Firefighting plans call for trying to check the fire along U.S. Highway 93 and do preparation work to protect structures in the fire’s path. Firefighters are also worried about long-range spotting where embers can drift far from the fire and start new spot fires.