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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Eastern Idaho Wildfire Update

Idaho Falls, ID – Several large wildfires are currently burning throughout the western states.  Smoke from wildfires in western Idaho and California is drifting east, mingling with smoke from fires in western Wyoming.  Smoke will likely continue to impact eastern Idaho and western Wyoming in the coming days and weeks, as no significant change in the weather pattern is forecast.  Those with sensitivities to smoke should take precautions, including limiting strenuous activities outdoors.  Several links with information on smoke and air quality, including Idaho DEQ’s Daily Air Quality Reports, are available in the lower right hand corner under the Smoke Information heading.
The Caribou-Targhee National Forest (CTNF) currently has three active fires. 
The South Mink Fire was contained last night at 12 acres in size.  Firefighters are now working on putting out all hotspots within the fire area as well as looking for any spot fires that may be outside of the fire perimeter.  One fire engine and the helicopter will be released at the end of today’s shift.  The remaining resources will continue to monitor the fire through the day tomorrow and are expected to be released at the end of the day pending any unexpected fire activity.
For photos and a video of the South Mink Fire, visit the CTNF’s Idaho Fire Info Flickr album at www.flickr.com/photos/idahofireinfo/albums/72157651399185602.
As a reminder, a road closure is in place for public and firefighter safety.  South Fork Mink Creek Road (Forest Road 163) is closed from the junction of the Bannock Highway (South Mink Creek Road) to the Forest boundary.  This closure will likely remain in place until the fire is out. 
Resources:  1 Helicopter, 1 Handcrew, 5 Engines, 1 Water Tender, 60 Total Personnel
Start Date:  7/25                                            Cause:  Under Investigation
 
The Big Elk Fire was detected last night north of Palisades Reservoir.  The fire is currently 2 acres, burning on a south aspect in douglas fir and grass.  The location of the fire presents a number of hazards to firefighters, including snags, rolling material, steep terrain, and cliffs.  A number of natural fire barriers lie adjacent to the fire, including rock scree slopes and the riparian area near Big Elk Creek.  Therefore, the CTNF will be monitoring the fire to assess its potential for growth while taking actions to protect values at risk, including nearby trails.  When necessary or prudent, helicopters will be used to drop water on the fire.  A web camera will be placed on a ridge near the fire to allow fire managers to constantly view the fire behavior throughout the daylight hours.  While the fire may have been naturally-caused, the last recorded lightning in the fire area was about 10 days ago.  Until firefighters can conclusively identify the cause of the fire from the ground, it remains under investigation.  Resources are now staged in Swan Valley to assist with the fire as necessary.
 
            Resources:  1 Helicopter, 1 Handcrew, 2 Engines, 30 Total Personnel
            Start Date:  7/26                                            Cause:  Under Investigation
 
The Lanes Creek Fire continues to burn about 9 air miles west of Freedom, Wyoming.  Fire staff on the CTNF are managing the fire to meet multiple objectives, including allowing fire to play its natural role in the ecosystem by removing dense conifers and encouraging aspen regeneration.  A web camera allows fire personnel to monitor the fire constantly, while firefighters on the ground have completed pre-treatments to minimize the fire’s potential impact to state and private lands.  Currently the fire is 116 acres and growing minimally each day.  Limited resources are assigned to the fire; however, managers are prepared to increase the staffing to meet the needs of the incident.
 
Resources:  1 Engine, 5 Total Personnel
            Start Date:  6/30                                            Cause:  Lightning
 
One less spark means one less Idaho wildfire.