Wildfire in east-central Idaho threatens homes and watershed

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More than 800 wildland firefighters and support personnel are battling a blaze in east-central Idaho that officials say threatens homes, an important north-south corridor, energy infrastructure, recreation opportunities and the municipal watershed of the town of Salmon.

On Tuesday, the Moose Fire reached nearly 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) burning grass, undergrowth, and dead, downy material in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. It is only 10% contained.

Firefighters are protecting structures in several areas as well as the US Highway 93 corridor, a major north-south route. Two helicopter pilots fighting the fire died last week when their CH-47D Series “Chinook” crashed into the Salmon River. Plans include removing the helicopter from the river with a large crane.

The cause of the fire that broke out on July 17 is undetermined. High temperatures and very dry relative humidity hamper fire control efforts. Smoke was also an issue.

Firefighting plans include trying to control the fire along U.S. Highway 93 and doing preparatory work to protect structures in the path of the fire. Firefighters are also concerned about long-distance spotting where embers can drift away from the fire and ignite new spot fires.

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