UPDATE: Howe Peak Fire shifts away from community; evacuation on standby
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HOWE — The Howe Peak Fire has shifted direction away from the small community of Howe, and some evacuated residents are being allowed to go back to their homes.
As of 7:30 p.m. Thursday, U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials said the blaze had grown to about 1,500 acres, but was now moving west away from the community. The fire started burning at about 1 p.m. about four miles south of Howe.
Several residents who had evacuated told EastIdahoNews.com that authorities were allowing them to return to their homes.
However, BLM spokeswoman Kelsey Griffee said residents are being asked to remain ready to leave in case the fire shifts to the north again.
The Howe Peak Fire got within a mile of the community during the mid-afternoon. Residents say high winds were contributing to the fast-moving fire.
Idaho Highway 33 has reopened from the US 26 junction to Howe.
About 70 to 80 local and federal firefighters are battling the fire alongside a number of air tankers. They expect to continue fighting the fire throughout the night. So far the fire is 20% contained, and full containment is expected by Saturday evening.
Multiple retardant drops were made south of Howe to prevent the fire moving towards the town, according to a news release. Firefighters will continue securing the fire perimeter to protect Howe and slow fire spread. Additional firefighters have been ordered and will arrive Friday..
EastIdahoNews.com will update this story when we get more information.