Update, Monday 3:40 p.m.: The BLM tweeted that Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park has reopened.
Update, Monday 2:30 p.m.: The wildfire has forced the closure and evacuation of Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park.
A wildfire burning south of Bruneau ignited Sunday afternoon and grew rapidly overnight. Evacuations are in place and firefighters are dealing with high winds.
The Loveridge Fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. Sunday and was estimated to be around 4,000 acres by day’s end. In the overnight hours, the blaze grew tenfold to about 40,000 acres by Monday morning.
“We had significant wind out there, and the wind just pushed it across the desert,” says Kelsey Brizendine, the fire information officer with the Twin Falls district of the Bureau of Land Management.
Along with gusting winds, she says weather conditions aren’t helping the battle against the flames. “It’s hot and dry, so basically what that means is that the fire is burning a lot faster,” says Brizendine. “It doesn’t have to dry the fuel out before it lights it.”
In other words, the fire can burn unchecked through the desert of Owyhee County. Several engines, water tenders, and bulldozers are on site and aerial reinforcements have been ordered.
Brizendine says the high summer temperatures are also taking a toll on firefighters. The triple-digit heat is “upping the potential for heat exhaustion and heat related illnesses,” she says. “That’s definitely something we’re keeping an eye on – making sure everybody’s getting enough water.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but lightning was spotted in the area Sunday.
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