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Environment

Soda Fire Balloons To 123 Square Miles In Southwest Idaho

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Scott Urban
/
The Idaho Statesman

A wildfire in southwestern Idaho, fanned by shifting winds and numerous storm cells, grew twelve times in size over a 24-hour span to 123 square miles by early Wednesday.

The fire about 40 miles southwest of Boise closed U.S. Highway 95 that connects Marsing, Idaho, with Jordan Valley, Ore.

Some 200 firefighters backed by about a dozen aircraft as well as fire engines and bulldozers are attacking the blaze in grassland and sagebrush.

There are no reports of injuries or structures lost in the sparsely populated area. The fire is 20 percent contained.

Officials say 15 square miles of top-level sage grouse habitat has burned.

Authorities this fall are scheduled to decide whether the birds need federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.