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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests morning fire update

Kamiah, Idaho, August 30, 2015 – Many of the widespread wildfires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests made significant runs yesterday, pushed by gusty winds and low relative humidities.  Of note, Tepee Springs Fire spread an estimated 5 ½ miles in a few hours.

Consequently, lands managed by the Nez Perce-National Forest outside of the Palouse Ranger District have been closed to public access.  The action was taken as a precautionary measure during a period of extreme fire activity. 

Prior to the wind event Saturday, the Forests had detected 275 fires which had burned across more than 100,000 acres. 

Suppression activities for fires on national forest system lands had been limited after an August 10 lightning storm ignited numerous fires across north-central Idaho, many close to homes and communities.  Since that time, firefighting personnel and equipment have been concentrated in these areas with private property and homes. 

Consequently, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest managers have had few firefighting resources to actively fight backcountry fires, many of which have grown large very quickly.  It is expected that more fires exist.  Firefighting resources available to the Forests have concentrated efforts on initial attack of new fire starts, monitoring fires, and point protection for the Forests’ lookouts, cabins and pack bridges ahead of advancing fires.

Precipitation across the Forest Saturday was spotty, ranging from none on the Salmon River (where temperatures were in the 100s with gusty winds) to .16 on the Palouse Ranger District.  Forest managers expect very little of that precipitation actually reached the ground.  The precipitation was a season slowing event, but definitely not a season ending event.

After scattered showers today, the weather is expected to be warm and dry early in the week.  Forest managers will monitor conditions and make changes to the Forest closure when it is safe to do so.  Forest managers continue to work with partner agencies and permittees in the implementation of the closure.

The safety of the public and firefighters continues to be the Forests’ number one priority.


Closure notices related to fire activity are posted at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/nezperceclearwater/homeClick on the “Fire Information” icon at the top of the page.