Video: Wildfires scorch the West

updated 7/23/2007 10:41:09 AM ET 2007-07-23T14:41:09

Firefighters faced a threat of strong wind gusts Monday as they battled a huge wildfire in central Utah, where several small communities were evacuated.

Spotty rain and increased humidity during the weekend had helped crews keep the nearly 29-square-mile fire from spreading.

On Monday, however, afternoon thunderstorms were expected to produce wind gusting as high as 50 mph, fire information officer Michelle Fidler said. There was already enough wind early Monday to carry smoke from the blaze 90 miles north to Salt Lake City.

The fire started Friday and remained about 15 percent contained Monday, Fidler said.

The small towns of Oaker Hills, Indian Ridge, Elk Ridge, Indianola and Holiday Oaks had been evacuated, officials said. Ricardo Zuniga, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said a shelter was set up at a school in Mount Pleasant.

Fires across the West
Dozens of other large fires were burning across the West, primarily in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

A wildfire in southern Idaho had covered more than 880 square miles, growing by about 200 square miles in just 24 hours during the weekend. Fire officials said it threatened tracking and radar facilities at Mountain Home Air Force bombing and firing range, which is used by pilots training for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mandatory evacuations remained in effect for the tiny town of Jarbidge, Nev.; an evacuation order for Murphy Hot Springs was lifted for residents only. A lot of grazing land burned, and cattle likely died in the fast-moving blaze, fire spokeswoman Pam Bierce said.

In northern Idaho, a lightning-caused fire had raced across 31 square miles and destroyed nine buildings at a hunting outfitter’s ranch, said fire spokesman Chuck Stanich.

The fire, about six miles southwest of White Bird, was only 10 percent contained Sunday. “Communities to the north and east of the fire are all threatened,” Stanich said.

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