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Monday, August 21, 2017

Highline Fire Update for August 21


Location: The Highline Fire is burning on the Payette National Forest, Krassel Ranger District, entirely within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, approximately four miles north of Chamberlain Basin.

Date of Origin: July 28, 21017 @ 7:00 p.m.

Cause: Started by lightning

Current Size: 20,307 acres

Percent Containment: The Highline Fire has no current containment. It is a lightning-caused, natural fire burning in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Firefighters on scene are conducting point protection which is a wildfire response strategy that protects specific assets or highly valued resources from the wildfire without directly halting the continued spread of the wildfire. Points or zones being protected may be communities, individual structures, areas of high resource value, etc. Continued wildfire spread may be desirable in order to achieve management objectives or may be inevitable due to extreme burning conditions, safety concerns, or other limitations.

Current Situation: The Highline Fire was not as active yesterday as it has been in the past few days due to decreasing winds, which moderated burning conditions over majority of the fire area. On the north third of the fire area, there continues to be no discernible activity. On the west flank, the fire continued backing to the west mainly in Lodgepole Creek area and west of Moose Meadow. On the southern end, the fire was under an inversion, primarily smoldering with a few pockets of fire activity. The same conditions were also occurring on the east flank, with smoldering and few active pockets of burning. A new fire start, named the Goat Fire, was discovered yesterday. It appears to be a holdover lightning fire and was estimated to be 20-30 acres in size. It is located northeast of the Highline Fire and south of the Salmon River corridor near Goat Point. Aerial surveillance showed it burning on the upper one third of the slope and backing downslope to the southwest in mature Lodgepole pine. The northeast side looked like it burned into a portion of a 2007 burn scar. The Weber Basin Type 2 Initial Attack crew was released yesterday. They have been providing point protection to structures in Chamberlain and Stonebraker. The Hells Canyon Wildland Fire Module will continue patrolling and mopping up hotspots at both sites for the next few days. The majority of burnout operations to protect structures around the Chamberlain Guard Station has been completed. The Snake River Interagency Hotshot crew (14 personnel) has also been inserted into Root Ranch to evaluate and initiate point protection measures in order to protect the values at risk. Firefighting equipment (pumps, hoses, nozzles, water handling equipment) has been moved to Root Ranch preparation for possible burnout operation in the event the Highline Fire threatens the site.

Fire Management Strategy: The Payette National Forest has selected a monitor/point protection fire management strategy as the fire is burning within the wilderness, started naturally by lightning and burning in the right place, at the right time, with the right resources. This approach allows the Highline Fire to play its natural ecological role in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to the greatest extent possible while protecting the known values at risk and providing for firefighter and public safety. Suppression actions will be taken where lightning-caused fires pose serious threats to life and/or property within wilderness or to life, property or natural resources outside of wilderness. Monitoring and point protection will continue to be the course of action and point protection will be implemented for values at risk should they become threatened.

Fire Resources Assigned: Fire crews are on scene include the Hells Canyon Wildland Fire Module (10 personnel) and the Snake River Interagency Hotshot crew (14 personnel). Both crews and miscellaneous overhead are spiked-out (24-hours on-scene because of the remote nature of the fire location in the wilderness) at the Chamberlain Guard Station, Stonebraker Ranch and Root Ranch. Crews are conducting burnout operations and point protection at these administrative sites in order to protect the Chamberlain Airstrip, Chamberlain Guard Station, Stonebraker Ranch, and Root Ranch structures and facilities. In addition to these crews, there is also fire leadership and a paramedic with crews. Crews are being supported (food, water, equipment, supplies) with a Type 3 helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. Total of 42 personnel including crews and miscellaneous overhead are assigned.

Structures Threatened - Values at Risk: Chamberlain Guard Station, State of Idaho Fish and Game facilities at Stonebraker Ranch, Root Ranch, Arctic Point Lookout, Cold Meadows Guard Station, and heritage and natural resource values within the Wilderness. No buildings or structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fire. Point protection at Chamberlain Guard Station and Stonebraker Ranch has been successful thus far in safe guarding and protecting structures and will continue to be the strategy for protecting values at risk. Historic structures at Stonebraker Ranch, a State of Idaho Fish and Game administrative site under Forest Service protection, includes one residence, three cabins, one bath house, four sheds, one historic barn and an airstrip. Historic structures at Chamberlain Guard Station includes seven cabins, four outbuildings and a public airstrip. Root Ranch is a private inholding with 12 structures including the main cabin, sleeping quarters, cookhouse building, airstrip, and various outbuildings.

Fuels/Terrain: Majority of the Highline Fire is burning within old fire scars from 2000. Fuels consist of stringers of mature mixed conifers at mid-elevations, stands of subalpine fir at higher elevations and areas of heavy dead and down logs with regeneration, grass and brush. Terrain is steep and remote.

Injuries: None

Closures: The Chamberlain Airstrip is closed due to fire activity. A Forest Area Closure Order is also in effect for the Highline Fire area. For more information on the Highline Fire Area Closure Order, go to: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5500/38216/. For a map of the Highline Fire Area Closure, go to: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/map/5500/1/68941/.

Fire Restrictions: The Payette National Forest is under STAGE 1 FIRE RESTRICTIONSClick this link for designated siteswhere campfires are allowed. If a site is not signed as being a designated site, then campfires are not allowed at that site.

For More Information: Highline Fire InciWeb page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5500/. Members of the public interested in receiving fire information updates are asked to send an email request to payettefireinformation@gmail.com. Follow the Payette National Forest on Twitter at @Payette Forest and on Facebook at U.S. Forest Service – Payette National Forest.