Officials closed a portion of State Highway 21 in both directions in southwest Idaho Tuesday morning -- due to the Pioneer Fire, a seven-square-mile wildfire burning trees, brush and grass in rugged terrain.
Fire managers gave no timeline for when the highway might reopen -- as some 850 firefighters backed by aircraft work on fire lines to contain the blaze that started July 18.
The highway is closed from east of Idaho City to north of Lowman, as firefighters prep the area for defensive operations.
“Firefighters will be removing brush and cutting trees along the roadway. Due to the hazards associated with that activity, public traffic needed to be fully restricted,” said Incident Commander Mark Rosenthal. “Existing road systems are often a key containment point for wildfires and can be very effective when prepared ahead.”
The highway is a well-traveled route from highly populated southwest Idaho to vacation areas in central Idaho.
The alternative route for the Idaho State Highway 21 section is the Banks – Lowman Road (Highway 17). That route is accessible from Boise on Highway 55 to Banks, and then through Garden Valley to Lowman.
The fire, burning about eight miles north of Idaho City, is about 30 percent contained, according to fire officials.
No structures have been destroyed.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
(Associated Press contributed to this story)