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Monday, August 24, 2015

Forest assigns firefighting resources to high priority fires


KamiahIdaho , August 24, 2015 –Nez Perce-Clearwater Fire managers continue to monitor and protect structures including lookouts, cabins and trail bridges within the Forests’ boundary while awaiting the arrival of firefighting personnel and equipment to staff many fires within the Forests that were not staffed due to the priority allocation of firefighting resources to fires that threatened homes, outbuildings and private property.

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. 

The Selway Complex, originally 27 fires burning on both sides of the Selway River east of Lowell, is also being managed by a team of fire specialists based at Red River.  Those fires have burned a combined acreage of more than 32,000 acres.

The 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, two fires account for the majority of the acreage:  the 1500-acre Snow Creek Fire and the 550-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 separately.  It is threatening the Scurvy Mountain Lookout.  Firefighters are working to protect that facility.

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 12 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 covered an estimated 1000 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 1800 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.  It made small “runs” in Jay Creek yesterday.  While structure protection continues for the Powell area, plans are being made to protect the historic Graves Peak Lookout located within the SelwayBitterroot Wilderness.  

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.  

More firefighting resources are being allocated to the Jay Point Fire as they become available.  Tomorrow, the Clearwater Complex Incident Management Team will assume management of the fire. 

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.

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 more than 3000 acres.

Fires of note include:  
• Lone Park Fire – Located roughly three miles east of the Cook Ranch, this fire is 25 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, Motorwayand Municipal Complexes and many other fires is available at: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov.  Information 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.