Crews Gain On Idaho Fire

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Firefighters had made enough progress against a north-central Idaho wildfire by Wednesday that mail delivery could resume to some homes in the area for the first time in more than a week.

Only 20 homes were still considered threatened Wednesday, and none of the 80 houses originally in the path of the fire had been damaged.

''Getting the mail service back indicates to the residents that things are getting pretty cold along that fire line,'' said Pat McKelvey, a member of the incident command team fighting the fire. ''It's not time for everybody to start driving out there yet, but we are beginning to demobilize some of the crew now.''

A voluntary evacuation order remained in effect, but many residents had started returning home.

The fire charred 4,800 acres of state forest land near Grangeville, about 40 miles from the Oregon state line. It was 60 percent contained Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the region, changing weather was expected to help quell what remained of wildfires along the Interstate 90 corridor in western Montana, fire officials said. Cold, wet weather was expected in the region Wednesday with a possibility of light snow at higher elevations.

Altogether, 23 large fires were active Wednesday in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Washington, the National Interagency Fire Center said. So far this year, wildfires have burned 6.4 million acres, compared to 6.1 million at this same time last year, the center said.