About 20 Homes Evacuated Outside Grangeville, Idaho

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (AP) -- About 20 homes outside of Grangeville have been evacuated because of the 500-acre Blackerby fire, the Idaho County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.

The fire, burning about five miles southeast of this northcentral Idaho town of 3,200 people, was threatening 48 structures overall, said Bridgett Cafferty with the Idaho Department of Lands.

Fire officials did not know what caused the blaze, which started Tuesday. A road leading up a steep grade into town had been closed to all traffic, but the town itself did not appear to be at great risk, said Stephanie Babb with the sheriff's office.

''So far, it hasn't topped over the hill toward us, so we're looking pretty good,'' Babb said.

Additional firefighters had been called in to battle the blaze, and about 200 workers were expected to be on the fire by Thursday, Cafferty said.

Another fire burning 15 miles west of North Fork in central Idaho remained at about 1,300 acres, fire managers said.

But because the Hale Gulch fire was burning in steep terrain, it was at risk of spreading, Incident Commander Jerry Brunner in a statement.

That fire was threatening 20 homes, three commercial properties and one outbuilding, but no evacuations had been ordered, said David Howell, a spokesman for the Central Idaho Dispatch Center.

Recent cool weather gave about 400 firefighters time to clear vegetation along three sides of the fire, Howell said. The blaze is about 10 percent contained.

So far, the Salmon River in the area remains open to recreationists, but fire managers are working with police and the North Fork Ranger District on evacuation and road closure plans, officials said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press