44 wildfires burn across the West, with warning of more ahead

Members of the Idaho City Hotshots work on burnout operations around Pine, Idaho, where the Elk Complex lightning-caused fire continued to burn.
(Ashley Smith / Associated Press)
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Eleven states across the West are suffering under brutal blazes as weather forecasters warned Thursday that more wildfires could break out soon.

The National Weather Service signaled early Thursday that strong winds and dry conditions could fuel new outbreaks in Idaho, Utah and Hawaii. “Any fires are expected to exhibit extreme fire behavior,” it said.

Any new wildfires would add to the 44 blazes already burning from Alaska to Arizona, five of which were first reported Wednesday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.


Overall, Idaho is battling nine wildfires, followed by Alaska with eight and Oregon with six. Five other states, including California and Utah, are confronting multiple blazes, and three more states have one wildfire each.

Despite the widespread damage, the 3,073,404 acres burned by wildfires so far this year represent a decline of nearly 3 million acres from the same period last year.

The massive Elk Complex fire in Idaho, which for days had been the nation’s top fire priority, has destroyed 38 homes and 43 other structures, fire information officer Lisa Keibler said. It swelled to 116,914 acres Thursday as erratic winds and temperatures in the 90s gripped the region.

Keibler said 856 firefighters on the scene are focused on protecting homes and burning out unlighted grass and brush. Some residents are still refusing to evacuate their homes.

Sparked like many in the West by lightning, the fire destroyed all 38 homes during its rapid advance in the 48 hours after it ignited. It is now 25% contained.

The Rockport 5 wildfire near Park City, Utah, has destroyed 14 homes and still threatens hundreds more, according to Summit Wildfire Information.


It had burned 2,000 acres and was 25% contained by Wednesday evening.


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