SHOSHONE — Hindered by wind, smoke and a vain of lava rock, the Bureau of Land Management Twin Falls District has nearly contained two fires that blazed across the southern Idaho desert this weekend.
More than 85,000 acres have burned in less than 72 hours.
The Mammoth Fire north of Shoshone was re-mapped at an estimated 50,182 acres. The fire was reported Friday afternoon and led to two evacuation orders Friday and Saturday. One house and two minor structures have been destroyed.
As of 10 a.m. Monday, the fire was 40 percent contained.
“All of the power is back on, and things are looking pretty good,” BLM spokeswoman Kelsey Brizendine said.
Multiple short-duration outages were reported because of the fire, Idaho Power Co. spokeswoman Stephanie McCurdy said. But 29 customers in Shoshone and Richfield lost power for six hours or longer Friday evening.
The fire had raged quickly over a few days as aircraft were grounded due to low visibility from smoke. Most of the smoke is from Canada, Washington and Oregon fires, Brizendine said. Aircraft have not been able to fly since Saturday afternoon.
“It was blowing so fast and so hot, there wasn’t really much anybody could do,” she said.
Firefighters started a backburn at Picabo Desert Road, which helped to contain the most active flank of the Mammoth Fire as it burned northeast.
Idaho Power Co. had concerns about losing power to the entire Wood River Valley over the weekend after the Mammoth Fire reached one of two transmission lines, McCurdy said. The other power line had been down for scheduled maintenance, but the power company paused those activities to get that line back up and running in case of an outage.
As it turned out, some poles burned, but there was not enough damage to cause an outage, McCurdy said.
The Mammoth Fire was expected to be fully contained by 8 p.m. Monday and controlled by 8 p.m. Thursday.
“Most of what’s burning is the interior pockets,” Brizendine said. These should not result in additional burned acreage.
There are 24 engines, two initial attack hand crews, one hot shot crew, 20 overhead, four dozers, three water tenders and one camp crew on scene.
BLM firefighters have nearly contained the Shoestring Fire, which was reported Saturday afternoon on Idaho 46 between Gooding and Wendell. The fire has burned 35,737 acres in Gooding, Lincoln and Jerome counties. It was estimated to be contained by 6 p.m. Monday, with control estimated for 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Fire crews have gotten containment lines all around the Shoestring Fire, while interior pockets continue to burn, Brizendine said.
The cause of the Mammoth and Shoestring fires is still unclear.
Despite little wind Monday morning, the BLM expects thunderstorms this week that could produce gusty winds up to 40 miles per hour.
The National Weather Service in Boise has issued a red flag warning for thunderstorms Monday afternoon and evening. An air quality advisory has also been issued by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for Camas, Gooding, Jerome and Twin Falls counties.