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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Billy Creek fire near Idaho-Washington border grows to more than 3,000 acres

A plane makes a retardant drip over the Billy Creek fire south of Lewiston, Idaho, on Thursday.  (August Frank/Lewiston Tribune)
Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON, Idaho – Boaters lounging on a Snake River beach on Independence Day could see two helicopters scooping water as part of the work to control the Billy Creek fire burning in Idaho about 20 miles south of Asotin, Washington.

Multiple planes were involved in the effort , with some dropping water and others dropping retardant on the blaze that ignited Wednesday, rapidly growing to 3,000 acres by Thursday, near the Idaho-Washington border, according to an Idaho Department of Lands news release.

As of late Sunday morning, the fire has spread to 3,169 acres and is 10% contained, the release reads.

The fire near the Billy Creek Ranch house in the Craig Mountain Wildlife area is burning on the breaks of the Snake River and is visible from Heller Bar. The smoke can be seen from as far away as the top of the Lewiston Hill.

The land is managed by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

A fuel shed and an old chicken coop that had been converted to a meeting room were lost to the blaze, but a ranch house, barn and shop are secure, said J.J. Teare, supervisor of the Idaho Fish and Game’s Clearwater Region based at Lewiston.

Fire crews stayed at the house Wednesday night, Teare said.

The cause of the fire, which started about 3 p.m. Wednesday, is still under investigation as of Sunday morning.

Since there are few other fires in the area, the Idaho Department of Lands had ample resources available Wednesday, Teare said.

A total of 132 fire personnel, with the use of equipment such as dozers, helicopters and boats, are working to suppress the blaze, according to the Department of Lands on Sunday.

Further north in Whitman County, a structure was “fully engulfed” by a fire started by a single firework in a dry brush field and spread near LaCrosse, Washington, on Thursday, according to a post on the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

The fire was under control Thursday evening.

Spokesman-Review staff contributed to this report.