Crews from across the Palouse are battling a wildfire that is threatening an estimated 20 to 40 structures in north Moscow.
Michael McManus, incident commander for the Idaho Department of Lands, said some structures have been lost in the blaze that is spanning an about 30-50 acres.
He has not heard any reports of injuries to people or livestock. As of Monday evening, he said it was unclear if the destroyed structures were homes or barns.
Homes near Idlers Rest Road, West Twin Road and Moscow Mountain Road have been evacuated.
The fire began at approximately 1:30 p.m. and covers an area between Idlers Rest Road and Moscow Mountain Road.
There are 100-120 emergency personnel on the scene, two helicopters and five air tankers.
The cause of the fire is undetermined. It is primarily affecting private land and was zero percent contained as of 7 p.m.
The wind Monday caused “rough conditions” for the firefighters, McManus said. The forecast showed wind continuing into the night to Tuesday.
Despite the conditions, McManus remained optimistic.
“Fire’s looking pretty good right now, though,” he said. “We’re holding our own, definitely.”
He asked the public to respect any road closures near the fire and stay out of the area.
The fire is affecting fields and timber. Idlers Rest Nature Preserve, which features popular hiking trails, is threatened but has not been impacted by the flames, McManus said.
Fire departments from Moscow, Pullman, Troy, Palouse, Potlatch and Whitman County Rural Fire districts were on the scene Monday.
Helicopters were dropping water from nearby ponds onto the flames. Onlookers parked their cars on top of hills to get a good look at the smoke rising from the area.
Officials from the Red Cross on Monday afternoon invited residents displaced by the blaze to the Latah County Fairgrounds for temporary shelter.
No one had taken the Red Cross up on the offer of temporary shelter as of nightfall. Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Autumn Gibson said they planned to remain open until 9 p.m.
If evacuees show up in need of somewhere to sleep, she said they will open the evacuation shelter and get food for dinner and breakfast. She said the service would still be available after this time, but those who arrive after 9 p.m. should call (800) 272-6668 for assistance.