Lightning-Sparked Idaho Fires Burn Over 240,000 Acres

By Courtney Spamer, Meteorologist
August 14, 2013; 8:08 PM ET
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The Elk Fire southeast of Boise, Idaho, continued to rage during the day Tuesday, sending a plume of smoke skyward over 30,000 feet high.

This blaze, along with the adjacent Pony Complex Fire, have combined to scorch over 240,000 acres since lightning sparked both fires on August 8.

According to the Incident Information System, 53 structures have been destroyed as of Tuesday evening by the Elk Fire, along with three boat docks.

The Elmore County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation order Tuesday of the Featherville and Pine areas.

The smoke across the Treasure Valley created unhealthy air quality conditions for sensitive groups on Tuesday, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Northwest Regional Radar
Significant Increase in Fire Risk Projected by 2100 for Western U.S.
Idaho Weather Radar

As of Tuesday evening, the Elk Fire was 10 percent contained, as compared to 5 percent contained Tuesday morning. Lighter winds Tuesday helped firefighters gain a little edge.

The Pony Complex Fire was 40 percent contained as of Tuesday evening.

The above satellite image is from Sunday, Aug. 11, when the fire was already causing smoke to stretch across central Idaho. (Photo credit to NASA)

However, due to the vast area the fire covers, as well as the tricky terrain, firefighters don't expect the Elk Fire to be fully contained until the start of October.

Multiple road closures are likely to continue, including roads off of I-84, where Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in place. More details on closures are available here.

It will be dry through the rest of this week across the area with low humidity each afternoon. On the good side, winds are not expected to be strong, which will help crews in their attempt to get the upper-hand on the ongoing fires.

By this weekend, a weak frontal boundary will move through the area, but it will be too dry for this front to produce rain.

Temperatures will be marginally lower behind this front, but daytime highs will still climb into the upper 80s and lower 90s this weekend in Boise and the Treasure Valley.


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