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Lightning storms in forecast have Idaho fires bosses on high alert

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Aug 27 2013 10:22:00 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 27 2013 10:22:35 PM MDT
Lightning storms in forecast have Idaho fires bosses on high alert
MISSOULA, Mont. -

A large wildfire in Idaho is spreading farther into Montana and threatening recreation sites and critical structures.

Our First Alert weather team is tracking developing conditions in Idaho, which is at the highest risk of wildfires in the entire country.

Right now Idaho has some of the nation’s largest fires burning in its forests, all of which were lightning-sparked.

The Beaver Creek Fire has burned over 111,000 acres.  That fire is roughly 135 miles east of Boise.

The Elk Complex, just east of Boise, has burned over 131,000 acres.

The Pony Complex, east of Boise, is reported to be 100 percent contained but that blaze has burned nearly 150,000 acres.

By comparison, the Mustang Complex, which burned in 2012 west of the North Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, burned over 340,000 acres.  

NBC Montana has been keeping an eye on the Gold Pan Complex ever since it crossed the Idaho-Montana state line.  That fire has now burned over 38,000 acres.

Fire managers tell us crews fighting the Gold Pan Complex are focused on protecting structures.  They tell NBC Montana the closest home to the blaze is roughly 9 miles away; however they say there are a number of outfitting camps, campgrounds and bridges in the Salmon-Challis National Forest that they are working to protect.

With storms and lightning predicted to hit central Idaho and the Salmon area over the next week, forest managers around Idaho tell us they are preparing for tough week.  

Idaho fire bosses tell us 40 of the 42 fires that burned in the Salmon-Challis National Forest this year were sparked by lightning strikes.  That’s why they estimate we will see anywhere from one to a dozen new fires flare up in central Idaho just this week.

Fire officials tell NBC Montana the Salmon-Challis National Forest is incredibly dry, providing potential new lightning-strike fires with plenty of fuel.

Close to 90 percent of the fires burning in the Boise National Forest, just north of Salmon-Challis, are also lightning-started.

We asked officials when we can expect some relief from fire-starting weather and they tell us they hope the shorter days and cooler nights of September will bring some much needed relief.

For more information on any of the above fires, click here.