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Friday, August 14, 2015

Cougar Fire grows and impacts travel to Warm Lake

The Cougar Fire has grown to 150 acres. Observations place it 3 miles SW of Warm Lake and 20 miles NE of Cascade, ID, burning in a lodgepole forest. Initial attack strength includes several engines, a hotshot crew, and an initial attack hand crews totaling 65 personnel working in very steep terrain. Aerial support is limited. Law enforcement has been posted at several intersections along Warm Lake Highway for safety.

Due to fire activity on the Cougar Fire the Boise National Forest has issued an area closure. The closure order does not affect the area immediately adjacent to Warm Lake as that area is not within the closure area boundary. However the closure may affect travel to Warm Lake. The area closure starts at the junction of the Warm Lake road (Highway 22) and Clear Creek road (#409). It follows Highway 22 to forest road(# 474) to Stolle Meadows, which is just west of Warm Lake. The area closure also includes Stolle Meadows road (#474) to Tyndall Creek Trail (# 107) continuing on to Clear Creek road (#409) and back up to the Warm Lake highway. The area closure also includes the Trail Creek hot springs area. The Valley County Sheriff is currently recommending that people do not travel the Warm Lake highway (Highway 22) and the highway could be closed at any time.

Embers from the Cougar fire have already started several small spot fires near the Warm Lake road.  We are concerned we may end up with fire on both sides of the highway, a hazardous situation which would entrap travelers. The order becomes effective immediate and the closure area could be expanded if conditions warrant.

A new fire has started today near Landmark and is relatively small at ¼ acre.  Four other fires in the Cascade Ranger District were spotted yesterday, all just west of Warm Lake and each less than two acres.

The West Scriver Fire is now 600 acres, 13 miles north of Crouch. Effective today, it is being managed by a Type 2 incident management team. There are 2 dozers, 1 water tender, 4 engines, 2 hotshot crew and 5 Type 2 crews, totaling 200 personnel. They are being supported by three helicopters with water buckets. A main objective today is to build a fire line across the fire's southern perimeter.

Latest reports for the Wolf Fire, located 8 miles east of Jackson Peak, indicates an increase to 55 acres. The Interagency Hot Shots and smoke jumpers have built a scratch line to temporarily lessen the fire's spread and then will monitor it.

Increases in fire activity and initial attack responses throughout the west, and particularly in Idaho, Oregon, and California, have resulted in raising the National Fire Preparedness Level 5, the highest rating possible and only its fifth designation in the last ten years. This indicates that resources, such as fire fighters, helicopters, and air tankers are becoming more difficult to obtain locally and nationally.

Today's forecast brings gusty winds and low relative humidity ahead of a cold front. 30% precipitation is expected, with winds 6-9 mph and gusts up to 35 mph.