Red Flag Warning issued, Powerline Fire grows to over 51,000 acres
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POCATELLO — Propelled by winds over the weekend, the Powerline Fire near Pocatello is now more than 51,000 acres in size — and it’s expected to grow even larger Monday due to the weather.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning in southeastern Idaho. Predicted high winds and thunderstorms will create critical fire conditions, which means new fire starts are possible, and any fires that are already burning will expand rapidly.
The warning goes into effect at noon Monday until 10 p.m. West winds of 10 mph are expected in the following counties: Bonneville, Bannock, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida, Bingham, Power and Minidoka.
Scattered thunderstorms in the area will create erratic winds in excess of 40 mph, which could fuel the Powerline Fire. A cooling trend is expected later in the week, which should bring relief to firefighting efforts.
On Sunday the winds began pushing the Powerline Fire southward, being pushed by winds out of the north. The fire did not advance farther north on Sunday and remains west of Kinport Peak, according to a Bureau of Land Management news release.
So far the Powerline Fire has burned lands managed by the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, the BLM, Idaho Department of Lands, and Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
Many roads in Power and Bannock counties have been closed, and a growing number of homes have been evacuated. Some of the closures include the Arbon Valley Highway, Michaud Creek Road, Mink Creek Road and Trail Creek Road. Campers in the Mink Creek area were evacuated Sunday along with residents of Pauline, according to the BLM news release.
Six rural buildings have burned, and about 20 homes are threatened by the fire, which is dangerously close to both Pocatello and Pauline.
Firefighters conducted burn-out operations around Pauline to protect the town. No structures were lost Sunday.
Multiple firefighting resources are assisting in containment of this fire. There are 26 engines, four water tenders, six dozers, and eight hand crews on scene. Air resources are based out of Pocatello Tanker Base. One very large air tanker, one heavy air tanker, seven single air tankers, and four helicopters supported the fire Sunday.
Over 160,000 gallons of retardant had been dropped on the fire as of Sunday.
Air Quality advisory
The air quality in southeastern Idaho is worsening. National Weather Service and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality officials say smoke and ash are making the air unhealthy.
The advisory is in effect for the following cities: Pocatello, Chubbuck, Burley, Shoshone and Hailey.
Anyone who is sensitive to increased particulate or smoke levels should avoid prolonged or strenuous
outdoor activity. All others should limit prolonged or strenuous outdoor activity, according to a news release from the National Weather Service.
For more information please access the department’s website at http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov.