Wildfire evacuations ordered in northern Idaho as 2 fires grow


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GRANGEVILLE, Idaho — Residents in a remote and mountainous area of northern Idaho have been told to evacuate ahead of one fire and be ready to evacuate ahead of another.

The Idaho County Sheriff's Office late Monday issued the evacuation order for an unknown number of homes threatened by the 2-square-mile Highrange Fire burning 20 miles southwest of Grangeville.

A warning to be ready to evacuate also went out for residents of homes threatened by the 30-square-mile Big Cougar Fire burning about 25 miles south of Lewiston, spokeswoman Meg Nemitz said.

The lightning-caused fires that started over the weekend were listed Tuesday as having no containment. About 125 firefighters are in the region fighting them.

It's unclear how many homes or residents are involved in the evacuations. Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings didn't return a call from The Associated Press on Tuesday. Maps show about 10 structures in the area of the Highrange Fire, Nemitz said.

But she also said fire managers on Tuesday took firefighters off the Highrange Fire because of smoke settling in the region that reduced visibility.

"There's an inversion, so they pulled everyone out of there," Nemitz said. "They pulled them back to a safe distance."

The evacuations for the Highrange Fire are along Getta Creek, while residents along the Snake River are being threatened by the Big Cougar Fire.

The Highrange Fire is burning through grass and timber in steep, rugged terrain and backing toward structures along Getta Creek. The Big Cougar Fire about 20 miles away is also burning through grass and timber, though it has expanded much faster.

"The winds are such localized winds, driven by the topography," Nemitz said. "That's possibly why."

No structures have been lost, and no injuries have been reported, she said.

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