By Kimberlee Kruesi Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho — Firefighters have made progress suppressing Idaho’s largest wildfire but anticipated extreme fire weather conditions could make putting it out more difficult in the next few days.
The lightning-caused fire is burning on the Idaho side of the Snake River near the Oregon and Washington border and has burned more than 101 square miles.
Firefighters have contained nearly half of the flames since the Big Cougar fire erupted Aug. 2, but 200 structures are still threatened.
Firefighters were working on protecting homes and outbuildings against the advancing flames and an evacuation order was in place for residents living along the Salmon River from the confluence with the Snake River to the Oxbow.
However, triple-digit temperatures were expected to challenge firefighters Monday, and high wind gusts will drop into the fire region later this week.
Smoke from wildfires burning in northern Idaho and Oregon has resulted in unhealthy air conditions throughout the state’s panhandle and central areas.
Visibility had dropped to less than 3 miles in McCall and Cottonwood while farther north, air quality officials warned that people sensitive to smoke pollutants should not be outside for long periods. Officials also said heavy exertion, such as exercising outside, should also be avoided in those same areas.
Overall, wildfires are burning currently nearly 123 square miles throughout Idaho.
In southern Idaho, firefighters were able to make significant gains on suppressing the Timber Butte fire burning in Gem and Boise counties. The fire has burned almost 11 square miles since it lit Aug. 9. The cause is still being investigated.