Wildfire claims sage grouse habitat in Idaho

AP News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2015 1:26 AM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Here's a look at wildfires burning Wednesday around the West:

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IDAHO-OREGON

A blaze in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon fanned by shifting winds quickly grew to 185 square miles, causing about 50 homes to be under an evacuation notice and burning key sage grouse habitat.

The fire blew across U.S. Highway 95 and moved a mile and a half in 8 minutes, said fire spokeswoman Carrie Bilbao of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The road later reopened.

With no sign of the fire dying down, Owyhee County Sheriff officials sent an evacuation order. As of 3:30 p.m., roughly 30 homes had been evacuated, with that number expected to rise later in the day.

There were no reports of injuries, and just one structure has been lost in the sparsely populated area. No cause has been determined for the fire was about 20 percent contained.

About 40 square miles of the fire is in Oregon.

Authorities are expected to decide this fall whether sage grouse need federal protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Habitat loss is a key consideration.

Elsewhere in Idaho, lighting strikes in forests have started numerous fires. Most have been quickly contained.

In eastern Oregon, dozens of homes south of Baker City have been evacuated in the path of two growing wildfires. Officials say people who live in a rural community and surrounding ranchland were told to leave.

In the central part of the state, officials closed some recreation areas in the Umpqua National Forest because of wildfires.

Also, wildfire near Warm Springs was caused by sparks when an RV's trailer lost a wheel. Officials said the fire grew quickly to nearly 8 square miles, forcing the closure of a stretch of U.S. 26 and destroying a trailer home.

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CALIFORNIA

A wildfire north of San Francisco has charred 26 square miles and was only 6 percent contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

At least 150 people have been evacuated, and many more were advised to voluntarily leave their homes as the fire chews through dry timber and brush.

Elsewhere in the state, evacuation orders were lifted as crews increased containment of a small wildfire sparked by a burning motor-home in rural Riverside County that left one person burned.

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WASHINGTON

A wildfire burning near Spokane has scorched 150 acres, and evacuations are in effect.

Department of Natural Resource officials say the fire is threatening 15 to 20 structures, including homes, and residents should be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

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MONTANA

High temperatures and low humidity caused the rapid growth of a new wildfire in a remote part of Glacier National Park.

Park officials say the blaze has burned more than 23 square miles and was threatening the Upper Nyack cabin, a historic patrol cabin. Some trails and campsites were closed.