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    Idaho, Western Wildfires Are Weeks From Being Fully Contained

    By By Brian Edwards, Meteorologist
    August 21, 2013, 5:15:54 AM EDT

    As severe drought continues across much of the West, several large wildfires continue to threaten homes and communities.

    Some of the hardest hit areas over the last few days are located in Idaho where several massive lightning-sparked fires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres combined.

    While the largest of the fires, the Pony Complex, has been 97 percent contained, multiple other fires continue to burn out of control.

    The Elk Complex fire was started by lightning on Aug. 8. It has burned more than 130,000 acres and is only 55 percent contained according to InciWeb.

    This fire continues to threaten several communities, particularly around Pine and Featherville, Idaho. which both lie along the Boise River. The good news is that burnout operations have contained the fire along that corridor and residents were allowed to return Sunday.

    The Idaho Forest Service estimates that full containment of this fire won't occur until Aug. 31.


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    Another fire, the Beaver Creek Fire located northwest of Hailey, Idaho, in the Sawtooth National Forest began on Aug. 7 by lightning.

    This fire grew over 8,000 acres overnight and now has burned over 100,000 acres thus far. It is only 8 percent contained, according to InciWeb.

    Evacuations of several subdivisions in between the towns of Hailey and Ketchum, Idaho, along Highway 75 are ongoing with pre-evacuation notices elsewhere in the vicinity of the fire. The Blaine County sheriff's office says nearly 10,000 homes are under mandatory evacuation or pre-evacuation notices.

    The weather across southern Idaho doesn't look to favor firefighters anytime soon.

    Hot weather with afternoon high temperatures in the 90s will continue through much of the upcoming week. Afternoon relative humidity values below 25 percent combined with 10-20 mph wind gusts could lead to the development of new fires or rapid spreading of ongoing ones, especially through Monday.


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    Some good news is that the threat for rainfall will increase slightly early next week as a pocket of cooler air aloft lifts into the West. This will cause a few thunderstorms to bubble up each afternoon from Tuesday through Thursday. Along with the isolated storms, afternoon relative humidity values won't be nearly as low as they have in recent days.

    However, the isolated nature of the storms means that some places won't pick up any rainfall and the additional lightning could spark new fires at anytime.

    Farther to the south, the Rockport Fire, just northeast of Park City, Utah, has burned nearly 2,000 acres and is 90 percent contained as of Sunday night.

    While the acreage of this fire isn't nearly as big as the ones in Utah, this one does threaten several communities and has already burned at least 12 homes.

    Evacuation orders are in place for Rockport Estates and Rockport Ranches until Monday.

    Dozens of other fires stretch from Washington down through Arizona and New Mexico and with continued dry conditions, more fires are likely to develop in the coming weeks.

    Keep checking back with AccuWeather.com over the next few weeks as we continue to update the wildfires across the West and the forecast for firefighters.

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