WASHINGTON – Idaho state authorities ordered the evacuation of more than 2,200 homes on the weekend while firefighters worked to put out a series of blazes that in the past few days have destroyed at least 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of forest, local media reported.
CNN reported that a combination of strong winds and low humidity have helped feed the fires, which have spread across more than 37,665 hectares (about 94,000 acres) since Friday.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter flew by helicopter over the zones affected by the fires, which just in the Sun Valley vicinity have forced the evacuation of some 1,600 families, CBS television reported.
Authorities say that a fire in the Beaver Creek area that broke out after a lightning strike more than a week ago has consumed more than 24,300 hectares (about 61,000 acres) and firefighters have been unable to bring it under control.
Another blaze in the area of Elk Complex has damaged more than 50,625 hectares (126,000 acres) but firefighting teams have managed to bring it 50 percent under control.
Gov. Otter said that the series of fires is due to an increase in summer temperatures after a winter with less precipitation than normal.
The authorities’ main priority is to deal with the Beaver Creek fire, given its proximity to residential areas in the towns of Haley and Ketchum.
According to the daily Idaho Statesman, the fires this season, when taken together, are larger than the fire destruction in Yellowstone in 1988, which was also fed by strong winds and dry conditions.
In 13 of the past 25 years, forest fires have damaged more than two million hectares (five million acres) around the United States, the daily added.