BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Danger eased for several central Idaho resort towns threatened for days by a 169-square-mile wildfire, allowing managers to give some weary firefighters a break and consider sending them to tackle other late-summer blazes that continue to flare up elsewhere within the state and across the West.
The Beaver Creek Fire near Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley was 30 percent contained Wednesday, with more progress expected.
Some 1,000 homes in this posh resort region of high desert and rugged mountains remain under evacuation orders, however, a reminder of the intensity with which the blaze advanced after being touched off by lightning Aug. 7.
Those allowed to return to their homes were told to remain on alert, given conditions remain parched.
"Be prepared to depart again immediately should conditions change," said a warning from the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.
Crews fighting the flames since the Beaver Creek blaze escalated late last week are exhausted. Several were released Wednesday to go home for required days off after having worked 14 days in a row, the maximum legal limit. Once they return, they will be available to respond to new or ongoing fires in Idaho or elsewhere.
Elsewhere in Idaho, 13 homes near the town of Weippe in the state's heavily forested north-central mountains were evacuated ahead of a small but unpredictable blaze, called the Incendiary Fire, started Sunday by lightning.
Deep inside the Boise National Forest near the historic mining town of Atlanta, a crew of more than 150 firefighters was battling the 14-square-mile Little Queens fire after it made a run south toward cabins and homes. A mandatory evacuation order was in effect for Atlanta, given its remote location and difficulty for residents leaving the area on forest roads.
Spurred by winds and fed by unusually dry fuels, the Little Queens Fire prompted a closure order for portions of the Boise and Sawtooth National forests. The blaze remained uncontained by fire officials said the erratic behavior it exhibited Tuesday had calmed Wednesday.
"I don't think the storm has developed like they thought it would," fire information spokesman Jerry Rohnert said about the blaze's behavior. He said, however, that stronger winds with lightning could materialize Wednesday evening or Thursday.
Several structures east of Boise burned Tuesday night, though firefighters had control of that wildfire Wednesday. The Highland Alley Fire, estimated at just less than a square mile, remained under investigation. It started near Idaho Highway 21 near the Lucky Peak Reservoir.