Residents who evacuated the towns of Pine and Featherville this week received some good news today: they will be able to return to their homes Sunday at 5 p.m.

People returning to their homes will need to provide proof of residency. The Elmore County sheriff's office says they will be checking proof of residency -- a power bill with your name and address on it -- before letting people back in their homes.

beaver creek fire
Kimberlee Kruesi / Times-News

Click here for the latest information on the Beaver Creek Fire. 

Update, 9:05 p.m.: Highway 75 has been re-opened.  

Mandatory evacuations:

wildfires, smoke
Ashley Smith / Times-News

Researchers are flying over Western wildfires to sample the thick smoke they emit to study its role in cloud formation and climate.

The data-gathering campaign is intended to help researchers flesh out one of the least understood areas of climate: the role of aerosols, or particles given off by wildfires, and how they evolve over time.


Update: Click here for the latest information on this fire. 

Update 6:53 p.m.:  The Beaver Creek Fire continues to grow and a fire information officer says "It's an evolving situation." Thursday night the Blaine County Sheriff ordered more evacuations, this time for Timber Gulch South to Zinc Spur. 

Idaho Power

UPDATE 9:40 a.m.: Idaho Power reports power was restored to the Lester Creek area and the Anderson Ranch Bluffs subdivision on Wednesday afternoon after the Elk Complex burned poles. Fall Creek and Pine should have power by Thursday evening, while the area north of Featherville is still too dangerous to access.

Areas near Mountain Home and Prairie got electricity back on Wednesday as well. The Pony Complex had destroyed 37 power poles in that area.

Wildfires, Elk Complex
Ashley Smith / Times-News

New numbers from Elmore County show a total of 38 homes and 43 outbuildings have burned in the Elk Complex fire

Elmore County officials have said the majority of the structure loss came in the Fall Creek area when it burned quickly and with little notice over the weekend.  The assessment of the area wrapped up Wednesday. 

Anne Jefferey / InciWeb

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is warning people in the Wood River Valley to stay indoors and avoid physical activity. This comes after smoke from nearby wildfires has engulfed the area. The Beaver Creek Fire is burning just southwest of Ketchum in the Sawtooth National Forest.

NASA Satellite Image Shows Idaho Wildfires In Stunning Context

Aug 14, 2013
wildfires, satellite image

Southern Idaho's four large wildfires have burned 495 square miles since lightning hit the area six days ago. The entire city of Boise is 80 square miles. This satellite image shows smoke billowing from the four blazes burning in what appears to be a straight line across southern Idaho, just east of Boise.

Ashley Smith / Times-News

The Elk Complex wildfire has already caused hundreds of people to evacuate including those living in the town of Pine.  Tuesday night, the Elmore County Sheriff issued another mandatory evacuation, this time for residents in nearby Featherville.  

Paul Broyles is a deputy incident commander with the team that manages this fire.  He flew over the Fall Creek area west of Pine.  He says 53 structures, including homes, have been lost.  

“The fire was quite intense, quite hot, and I was quite frankly surprised that any homes survived,” he says.

Ashley Smith / Twin Falls Times-News

The incident commander leading the fight against the Elk Complex wildfire near Pine and Featherville says he has a good mix of resources available to fight the fire, and that crews are doing the best they can to protect the towns.

Rich Harvey helped protect these towns from the Trinity Ridge Fire a year ago. He says this year's fire has been much more difficult to fight.

Firefighters, Fire, Crews, Wildfires
Ashley Smith / Times-News

Mandatory evacuations are in place for the central Idaho mountain town of Pine and surrounding communities. That’s because the 125-square-mile Elk Complex wildfire is getting closer. Kimberlee Kruesi is  covering this wildfire for the Times-News in Twin Falls.  

"I'm most struck by the residents' love for this area and true concern," says Kruesi. Sunday night she interviewed people who'd lived in the town of Pine for 15 years. "And they were crying because they knew this area is never going to look the same."

view_camper / Flickr Creative Commons

So far this year, wildfires have burned almost 2.8 million acres across the country. It’s been a deadly year too, with 19 hotshots killed in one Arizona blaze and homes destroyed in states including Colorado and California.

Idaho Statesman

UPDATE 2:03 p.m.: Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter has issued a disaster declaration for Elmore County. The declaration allows resources from Boise, Meridian, Eagle and Donnelly to help protect areas that don't have firefighters of their own. The Elk and Pony Complexes continue to threaten communities.

Wildfire, Fire
Courtesy of InciWeb

Update 8:15 a.m.:  The Pony Complex destroyed two cabins and an outbuilding  this morning in Syrup Creek. Evacuations have been ordered. Crews have been working to protect multiple residences in the Syrup Canyon area including Miller Ranch.

The Pony Complex has consumed 119,543 acres and is now 20 percent contained. The communities of Mayfield, Canyon Creek area and the Danskin and Bennett Mountain Lookouts remain evacuated.

Google Maps

The Elmore County Sheriff's Office is going door-to-door this afternoon evacuating people from the small towns of Prairie and the area of Fall Creek north of Mountain Home. 

A spokesperson from the Bureau of Land Management says the mandatory evacuations were issued after a group of fires known as the Elk Complex moved into the area. People are being evacuated to the Elks Lodge in Mountain Home.  

wildfires, highway 20, road closure
Google Maps

UPDATE 3:27 p.m.: U.S. Highway 20 has reopened after closing for much of the day. BLM fire managers are still working to contain several fires in the area.

ORIGINAL POST: A 56-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 20 is closed north of Mountain Home after lighting sparked several fires last night. The Bureau of Land Management reports the Milemarker 111 fire has burned about 12,000 acres, and is burning next to the highway. The road is closed from Mountain Home to 1st Street West in Fairfield, and it's not clear when the road will reopen.

Lodgepole, Fire
Courtesy of InciWeb

UPDATE 9:34 a.m.:  The McCan fire near Fairfield now has 154 people battling the blaze. The Associated Press reports that fire managers predict they'll have the fire contained Saturday night and controlled on Monday.

As of this morning, the Boise National Forest reports that a total of 18 fires were sparked from lighting Thursday night. The majority of these fires are less than 1 acre in size and are being managed by the Boise National Forest and/or the Bureau of Land Management.

BLM, land, outdoors
Pete Zimosky / Idaho Statesman

Idaho’s state director for the Bureau of Land Management is now running the daily operations for the entire federal agency. Steve Ellis is in Washington D.C. temporarily serving as acting deputy director. 

It’s a job he did for a few weeks back in 2011. This time around, Ellis will be in the agency’s number two position until November.

His temporary home is an apartment in Arlington, VA., far away from his family and horses back in Boise. “I’ve had to get used to taking the subway to work again,” he chuckles over the phone in a recent interview.

A firefighter has died in a truck accident on a one-lane mountain road in Southern Oregon.

Jesse A. Trader was 19-years-old. He was working for a company that was contracted to fight the Big Windy Complex of Fires south of the Rogue River.

Trader’s mother, Gigi Trader says he was a responsible kid who dreamed of firefighting.  “He was about the best kid anybody could ever have. Great student, just finished his first year of college.”

Update: Hilltop Fire Near Boise Contained At 990 Acres

Aug 6, 2013
wildfire, hilltop fire
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

UPDATE 11:05 a.m.: The Bureau of Land Management says the Hilltop fire burning southeast of Boise off Highway 21 was fully contained by 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Fire managers say hotspots prevented them from reaching containment overnight, as they originally expected.

The BLM says the perimeter of the fire hasn't grown, but thanks to better mapping, acres burned is now estimated at 990.

UPDATE 9:00 p.m.: The Bureau of Land Management expects the Hilltop fire to be fully contained within the next two hours.