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Level 2 evacuations are in effect around Pioneer Fire

Posted at 10:38 PM, Aug 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 23:45:30-04

Level 2 evacuations are now in effect for campgrounds near the Pioneer Fire, from Pine Flats Campground to Kirkham Hot Springs, north and south of the South Fork of the Payette River.

Boise County Sheriff's office issued the Level 2 evacuations Friday afternoon. This includes Deadwood Campground and Park Creek Campground. Highway 17 is closed at Gallagher Creek, near the old Rattlesnake Lodge seven miles east of Garden Valley.

Level 2 evacuations are voluntary, but highly recommended.

The massive Pioneer Fire burning in Boise County is approaching 80 square miles and is showing little sign of slowing down.

Flames are now burning in timber that is less than 2 miles of the mountain community of Lowman.

Teams of firefighters have been working for days getting the community ready in the event the fire makes its way even closer to the community.

Crews say they are still very concerned about several homes and cabins in the area. They say a little work on the residents' part today can go a long way toward protecting their property.

Fire crews have helped by putting in hand lines around homes in the areas most at risk. They then soaked the ground with sprinklers using water that has been brought in for extra protection.

Norman Long has owned a cabin for the last 15 years, and he says he is very thankful for the help of the fire crews.

"The stuff that me and my son did around here we could handle. Stuff down into the gully, we're just not able to do that stuff," explained Long, who said he is no stranger to fires.

He said he's lost two properties in the Utah mountains, but this fire nearing his cabin hits especially close to home.

"This is my wife's dream. She has always wanted a cabin. She's always wanted to be by the river. And to be this close, and to have this -- it's heartbreaking," said Long.

Long has made several trips taking furniture out of the cabin just in case.

Fire crews say, for many rural residents, it is not if a fire happens, it is when, so preparations are a must.

"I mean, if you're going to live in the mountains, you are going to deal with fire," said Cliff McClure, a task force leader. He recommends a 30-foot barrier around the home and limbing the trees all the way up. "The more the homeowners do to help, the faster we can go about our job of protecting that area."

Fire crews say they've got the fire about 30 percent contained  and with the favorable conditions Thursday, they hope that number will continue to grow.