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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25 Nez Perce-Clearwater Fire Update

Kamiah, Idaho , August 25, 2015 –A smoke inversion once again limited the spread of most fires and also presented challenges for fire personnel working to managing numerous fires burning on lands administered by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. 

Nez Perce-Clearwater Fire managers continued to monitor fires and protect structures including lookouts, cabins and trail bridges within the Forests’ boundary.   Resources to fight more remote fires are limited because firefighters and equipment are concentrated in areas where homes and private property are threatened.

Incident management teams are assigned to two complexes burning primarily on national forest system lands.   These complexes are of concern for many reasons, including their proximity to private property and residences.

 The Motorway Complex, originally more than 50 individual fires, is located roughly in the vicinity of the Lolo Motorway north of Syringa and east of Pierce.  Fires associated with that complex have spread across more than 29,000 acres.  Fire information is available by calling 208-926-4170.

The Selway Complex, including the Baldy (1350 acres) and Wash (24,000 acres) Fires, are burning roughly nine miles northeast of Elk City.  They are being managed by the Southern Area Incident Management Team, based at Red River.   Information regarding those fires is available by calling 208-842-2215.

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is currently managing four geographically distinct complexes of fires.

On the Forests’ North Zone (Palouse and North Fork Districts), the Larkin Complex consists of 15 fires burning in an area roughly 30 miles northeast of Pierce.  In total, those fires have spread across more than 3000 acres.  While most fires remain small, three fires account for the majority of the acreage:  the 1500-acre Snow Creek Fire, the 770-acre Wolf Pack Fire, and the 600-acre Heather Fire.

Also on the North Zone, the 90-acre Scurvy Mountain Fire, located roughly six airline miles southeast of the Kelly Forks Work Center, is being managed as an separate fire.  It is threatening the Scurvy Mountain Lookout.  Firefighters have wrapped the lookout as a fire protection measure.  (See photo on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests’ Facebook page.)

Due to fire activity, Scurvy Mountain Trail has been closed from its junction with Road 581 to Scurvy Mountain Lookout.

The North Zone’s Palouse Ranger District re-opened the Laird Park and White Pine Campgrounds which had been closed due to the proximity of the Big Lost Fire. 

On the Central Zone (Lochsa-Powell and Moose Creek Districts), the Forests are managing two complexes:  The Lochsa South and Wilderness Complexes. 

The Lochsa South Complex consists of 11 fires located on the south side of the Lochsa River from Warm Springs Creek on the east to the Selway River on the west.  These fires have burned across an estimated 1000 acres.  The largest fire in the complex is the Grit Fire at 500 acres.  The 200-acre Lone Knob Fire is up the drainage approximately one mile from Wilderness Gateway Campground and outfitter and guide area.  Fire personnel are monitoring these fires and implementing protection actions for the Wilderness Gateway area.  The Fire Lake and Grit Fires have each burned roughly 500 acres.

The Wilderness Complex consists of eight fires which have burned roughly 6000 acres.  These fires are located within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.  The largest fire within the complex is the Army Mule Fire which is estimated to be 1950 acres. It is located approximately nine miles northwest of Elk Summit.   The Baily Fire is 1100 acres, with Meeker at 1000 acres.

Structure protection is being set up at many sites including Shissler Lookout, Selway Lodge, and Selway Falls and Meadow Creek Cabins.

Also within the Central Zone is the Jay Point Fire located roughly 1.5 miles west of Powell.  It now covers an estimated 800 acres.  One hundred twenty firefighting personnel are now assigned to this fire.  They have constructed a saw line from the Lochsa up to the ridge line above Powell at Tom Beal Road 362.  Structure protection continues for the greater Powell area. 

As the fire continues to spread, it has the potential to impact the Powell area and U.S. Highway 12.  All Powell area campgrounds remain closed, and a level 1 evacuation alert remains in effect for the greater Powell area. 

An area closure remains in effect for a large area south of Powell in the vicinity of the Jay Point Fire area.   It closes access to such destinations as Walton Lakes, Wind Lakes and Tom Beal Park.

Management of the Jay Point Fire has transitioned to the Incident Management Team managing the Clearwater Complex (406)309-0371.

On the Southern Zone comprised of the Red River and Salmon River Districts, a small cluster of fires within the Red River Complex remain active. 

That complex is located south of Elk City.  Originally six fires, two have been declared out.  To date, they have spread across nearly 3100 acres.

Fires of note include: 
·         Lone Park Fire – Located roughly three miles east of the Cook Ranch, this fire is 50 acres.  Structure protection is in place at Cook Ranch.
·         Rattlesnake Fire – This 1250-acre-fire is burning northeast from Crofoot Ranch toward Sheep Hill Lookout and south to the Salmon River.  It has moved westward down river from Rattlesnake Bar toward the mouth of Bargamin Creek.
·         Crown Fire – Located near Crown Point, this fire is roughly 1500 acres and continues to burn north-northeastward toward Trail 580.
·         Little Green Fire – This 300-acre-fire is near the Green Mountain Lookout.  Structure protection is in place.

The large number of area, road and trail closures makes much country inaccessible for Forest visitors.    Prospective visitors are encouraged to visit the Forests’ website to view a summary, comprehensive map, and actual orders which provide details about the restrictions and closures.  These closures and fire information is posted at:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/nezperceclearwater/home .  Click on the “Fire Information” icon at the top of the page.
Information for the Clearwater, Motorway, and Municipal Complexes and many other fires is available at:  http://inciweb.nwcg.govInformation regarding the Selway Complex and the four Forest-managed complexes will be posted soon.

New wildfires can be reported to the Grangeville Interagency Dispatch Center at 208-983-6800, or to the Idaho County Sheriff’s office at 208-983-1100 or Clearwater County Sheriff’s office 208-476-4521.