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Idaho highway reopens as two wildfires continue to burn alongside road

by Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman (Boise) |

A state highway reopened Monday morning after closing due to two wildfires burning near the roadway.

According to the Idaho Transportation Department’s online road closure map, Idaho 21 was closed between Seafoam Road and Iron Creek Road (milepost 113 to 120) on Sunday due to the Vader Fire. A pilot car is leading drivers through the area, and travelers should expect delays.

The 400-acre fire started Friday afternoon and was 10 percent contained as of Monday morning, according to reports on InciWeb, a government wildfire information website.

The Vader fire is burning south of Idaho 21 near Vader Creek and the Cape Horn Guard Station, about 14 miles northwest of Stanley. According to InciWeb, traffic to and from Stanley is being rerouted on Forest Service Road 203. Travelers in the area should expect heavy smoke and delays.

The Vader fire isn’t the only blaze burning along Idaho 21. The Canyon Fire, which started July 14, is burning about 10 miles down the road toward Lowman. That fire shut down a different portion of Idaho 21 for a brief time on Friday.

The Canyon Fire is just over 300 acres and was 26 percent contained Sunday evening. Fire crews conducted burn operations along the highway and north of the blaze in hopes of confining it.

The Forest Service reports high fire danger in the Salmon-Challis National Forest where the Vader Fire is and moderate fire danger in the Boise National Forest.

Warm weather, thunderstorms and high winds forecasted for the coming week could complicate firefighting efforts.

According to InciWeb, there are currently three active wildfires in Idaho. The third, called the Shady Fire, is burning northeast of the Vader Fire in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.