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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Forest continues to manage fires with limited resources

Kamiah, Idaho (August 21, 2015) – As a majority of area firefighters concentrated their efforts improving firelines and fighting fires within the wildland urban interface, fire managers on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests continued to manage existing and new fires with the limited resources made available for fire management in more remote backcountry areas.

Fire activity for the southern zone of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is mostly concentrated within the Red River Ranger District.  Two new fires were detected and staffed including the 10-acre Lone Park Fire located roughly two miles east of the Cook Ranch.  It is staffed by eight smokejumpers supported by helicopter water drops.  Firefighters are working to protect structures at the Mallard Creek and Cook Ranches.  A second fire, the Slaughter Fire 3.5 miles west of Concord in the Gospel Hump Wilderness is two acres and being monitored.

The Baldy Fire in the Newsome Creek drainage continues to burn mostly along the ridge from south of the Pilot Knob Lookout north past Pilot Rock to Pilot Creek.  It is estimated to be 1200 acres. Firefighters have taken actions to protect the lookout tower and equipment at Pilot Knob.

A National (Type I) Incident Management Team was briefed in Grangeville this afternoon and is taking over management of the Baldy Fire on the Red River Ranger District, and the Wash Fire which is located on the Moose Creek District north of Elk City.

(5:00 p.m.) The Forest just received word that the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office has issued a Stage I evacuation alert and notice to residents in the Elk City area (including Newsome) due to potential high winds and the potential for fire growth on both the Baldy and Wash Fires. 

In other news from the Red River District, the Little Green Fire in the vicinity of the Green Mountain Lookout grew to an estimated 200 acres.  Fires in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness are active, with both the Crown Fire near Crown Point and the Rattlesnake Fire burning north and south of the Crofoot Ranch growing to an estimated 1000 each.  Trail closures anticipated.

Fires were also active in the central zone where 11 fires continue to spread in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and eight fires remain active in the front country.

Firefighters are setting up structure protection equipment for the Selway Falls packer cabin, the Fenn Ranger Station and private inholdings upriver from the Fenn Ranger Station.  Closure orders are being developed for the Selway fire area and a section of Bear Creek Trail 516.

Firefighters are making progress on many fires across the Nez Perce-Clearwater Forests, despite minimal resources available.  A cold front is expected to move into the area Friday, bringing with it gusty winds that will affect fire behavior.  Temperatures should be in the mid-70’s, with relative humidity in the 25 to 30% range.

Following is a summary of fire activity in the Nez Perce-Clearwater Forests:

Moose Creek Ranger District:
New fires:  0
Active fires:  The Moose Creek Ranger District has multiple fires still burning in the front country. Wart Creek, Falls Point 3, Copper Indian fires are staffed.  North and South O’Hara,
Staffing is minimal as most resources are committed to higher priority fires around structures.
Contained fires:  0
Controlled fires:  0
Area and Trail Closures:  Trail closures will be in effect today.
Special Note:  The Motorway Complex is comprised of several fires on the Lochsa-Powell, North Fork, and Moose Creek Ranger Districts including Woodrat, Big Hill, Wash, Slide, and a group of fires located near the Lolo Motorway.  The Woodrat fire has also burned onto lands managed by the Maggie Creek Protection District.  The Motorway Complex, like many other fires in the area, is the result of recent lightning storms. Rick Kusicko’s North Idaho Incident Management Team (IMT) assumed command of the Complex at 7:00 a.m. today.   Please contact the fire information line, at 208-926-4170 or motorwaycomplex@gmail.com.  As always, check fire information and updates on http://inciweb.nwcg.gov.   

North Fork Ranger District:
New fires:   0
Name of fire(s): Larkin Complex (Snow, Upper Twin, Twin, Roaring, Heather, Minnesaka) Snow is the largest at 400 acres.  Wolf Pack (Wolf 1-4) - 10 acres total.  Indian Henry fire – 1.5 acres
Active fires: 11
Contained fires:  0
Controlled fires:  0
Area and Trail Closures:  None 

Red River Ranger District:
New fires:  0
Active fires:  7
Contained fires:  0
Controlled fires:  0
Area and Trail Closures:  Closures associated with the Baldy, Deadwood and wilderness fires.

The greater Powell area remains under a stage I evacuation alert as the Jay Point Fire three miles west of Powell continues to spread.  Estimated to be more than 100 acres, the fire burned the Jay Point Lookout Thursday.  The White House, Wendover, Powell and White Sands Campgrounds have been closed.

Fire closure orders are posted at:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices.  Please check back regularly as conditions and closures change frequently.
Forest news releases related to wildfires and other incidents are posted at the http://www.fs.usda.gov/news/nezperceclearwater/news-events.
Information for the Clearwater Complex (Lawyer 2, Lolo 2, Carrot Ridge, Fisher and Syringa fires) and many other fires is available at:  http://inciweb.nwcg.gov.
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.