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Friday, August 14, 2015

Firefighters face critical day on Nez Perce-Clearwater fires

Kamiah, Idaho (Fri., Aug. 14, 2015) -- Firefighters will again battle dozens of lightning-caused
wildfires in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests under dangerous conditions that are ideal for
rapid spread of fires and ignition of new starts.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today for the
Forest and surrounding areas. A cold front and thunderstorms passing through the area will create
strong winds that could significantly increase fire activity throughout the afternoon and evening.
The weather change will swing winds around from the southeast this morning clockwise to the north as the cold front arrives. Wind gusts could reach 30 to 35 mph later today. To ensure their safety,
firefighters could be pulled off the fire line in some areas during the most critical periods.

Yesterday, fires burning in the Syringa and Pilot Knob areas of the Forest were folded into the new
Clearwater Complex under the direction of Greg Poncin’s Type 1 Incident Management Team. The
Clearwater Complex includes dozens of the fires sparked by lightning since Monday. Besides the Syringa and Pilot Knob branches, the complex also has Kamiah, Fisher and Lolo branches.

Two of the largest fires in the Syringa branch both grew yesterday. Woodrat, now about 150 acres, has crossed the 418 Road and spotted in multiple areas. The Big Hill Fire has grown to 25 acres and
crossed the 5515 Road. Firefighters are working to hold the fire north of Syringa.

An area closure for the Forest’s Lochsa District that went into effect yesterday includes Woodrat, Big
Hill and also the Fourbit Fires south of Mex Mountain, where a cluster of fires is growing into a single large fire. At least 30 wildfires are still burning within the Lochsa closure area, rendering it unsafe for the public. Two Lochsa lookouts have been evacuated -- Pilot Knob and Walde.
Lightning strikes were reported on the Forest again yesterday, along with new starts.

The Red River Ranger District had nine new fires, with seven staffed. Ten fires were declared out.
Firefighters are trying to pinpoint the exact location of the Deadwood Fire, burning about three miles
southwest of Elk City on the Crooked River. The fire has grown to about 15 acres.
Moose Creek Ranger District had nine new fires. The 100-acre Pilot Knob Fire is being monitored until coming under the command of the Type 1 team.