UPDATE: Lavaside Fire reaches nearly 1,200 acres. Homes remain threatened.
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LATEST UPDATE (8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22)
FIRTH — The Lavaside Fire has grown to 1,192 acres since it started Wednesday afternoon near Hell’s Half Acre west of Firth.
The majority of the growth happened Thursday as a result of high winds, which fanned the flames from 200 acres to well over 1,000 acres by the evening.
As of 8:30 p.m., homes near 700 North in Firth remained threatened, and fire crews were working diligently to protect them. Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland has confirmed that at least one rural home has been damaged by the fire.
The fire remains extremely active, and so far firefighters have only been able to get 25% containment on the blaze. Full containment is not expected until Saturday evening, according to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management news release.
Evacuation recommendations remain in place. The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office has recommended the entire community of Firth evacuate as a precaution. A Red Cross shelter has been set up at A.W. Johnson Elementary in Firth for anyone displaced by the fire.
Several roads immediately surrounding the fire are closed. Officials warn residents to stay away from the area.
Additionally, the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to stop bringing in donations. For the moment, authorities already have far more supplies than are needed.
UPDATE: (5 p.m. Thursday, April 22)
The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office has asked the entire community of Firth to evacuate as a precautionary measure due to the proximity of the Lavaside Fire.
Sheriff Craig Rowland confirmed that one house along 700 North in Bingham County had its roof catch on fire. It’s not clear what the current condition of the home is.
Previously, Rowland ordered evacuations on 700 North just off U.S. Highway 91 at around 2 p.m. Thursday, Rowland said. A request — not an order — was made for the entire community around 4 p.m.
Additionally, A.W. Johnson Elementary in Firth, which is close to 700 North, closed early due to the fire. Officials say the school is now being used as an evacuation center for people who have been displaced.
As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the fire had grown to about 500 acres, BLM spokeswoman Kelsey Griffee said.
Conditions remain dry and windy throughout the region.
ORIGINAL STORY: (9 p.m. Thursday, April 22)
FIRTH — Firefighters are working on getting a handle on eastern Idaho’s first large wildfire of the year.
The Lavaside Fire started at around 3 p.m. Wednesday, near Hell’s Half Acre, four miles west of Firth, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Kelsey Griffee.
During the night the fast-moving fire grew to about 190 acres before firefighters began making progress on the blaze. At the moment the fire is 25% contained. Fire activity has decreased significantly since Wednesday, however, high winds are expected to increase activity again on Thursday afternoon.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
When the fire started, there were several threatened buildings in the area, and some residents were evacuated for a short time, according to Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland. Later on Wednesday, those residents were allowed to return to their homes. As of Thursday morning, no buildings are threatened.
Nothing substantial has been burned by the fire. So far, officials say it has mostly burned grass, brush and juniper on flat terrain.
Thick juniper, willow, and cottonwood vegetation are making extinguishment difficult. A 20-person hand crew is arriving Thursday afternoon to help fight the fire.
Full containment is expected by Saturday evening.
The 2021 fire season has started early in eastern Idaho. Already this year, the region has seen more than a dozen controlled burns that have turned into small wildfires. The Lavaside Fire is the largest fire we’ve seen this year. Generally, the fire season doesn’t start until late spring or early summer.
Officials remind residents to take special care when burning debris, ditches or fields.