GOODING • A firefighter jumped through a wall of flame Sunday night after lighting a back burn on Highway 46.

What started as two wildfires burning one mile apart, quickly turned into one 8,500 acre fire Sunday afternoon.

The Fir Grove Fire started at 80 acres around 1:30 p.m. 18 miles north of Gooding. As of 9:00 p.m. Sunday it had grown to more than 8,500 acres, and was expected to reach 10,000 by Monday morning, said Josh Olsen, a spokesman with the Bureau of Land Management.

Firefighters closed portions of Highway 46 north of Gooding up to Highway 20.

As of press time Sunday there were no evacuations and no structures were threatened.

Air tankers circled the flames and engines from the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Fairfield Rural Fire Department fought the blaze across rocky terrain near Flat Top Butte.

The fire was remote for the most part, but two ranches had to be safeguarded and a Bureau of Land Management campground lost some terrain. Another danger was a transmission line carrying electricity to the Wood River Valley.

Sunday night, firefighters were still working to protect the power line, which was about to fall. The transmission line is one of two sources of power to the Sun Valley area.

One power pole had been damaged prompting officials to reroute power. Resources committed to the fire include 20 engines, three dozers, two water tenders, one hand crew and various air resources. The fire reached the Thorn Creek Reservoir Sunday night but was more than ten miles from Magic Reservoir.

Ranchers Hank Hafliger and his son Anthony Hafliger, of Shoshone, were escorted past the roadblock on Highway 46 down a dirt road to check on their cattle. They had to stop short of their cows as firefighters worried the transmission line could fall. They turned back, feeling their cows were safe after seeing the direction of the fire.

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High winds — gusting at 25 mph — sent the flames dancing over the highway. Smoke and ash were flying as the firefighters stood on the opposite side of the road guarding against the spread of flames.

Firefighters worked on the blaze into the night and planned to continue fighting the Fir Grove Fire early Monday morning.

Crews estimate containment by 8 p.m. Monday and control by Tuesday, July 30.

Check Magicvalley.com for updates.

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