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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Fire Update - August 31


Kamiah, Idaho (August 31, 2017) – Lightning activity across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Wednesday resulted in numerous new fires and reports of new fires.  Staffed lookouts and aerial reconnaissance will be busy today as they attempt to identify new starts.  With resources stretched, fire managers are tasked with prioritizing placement of personnel and equipment.  For instance, a district that received no lightning activity will be asked to share firefighters, engines, and so on, with districts that have or expect to have more initial response activity.

Stage 1 fire restrictions are in effect in the Grangeville Fire Restrictions Area, Riverbreaks, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and Uplands.  The restrictions do not include wilderness areas.  Visitors should know before you go: fire and closure information is posted on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests website at www.fs.usda.gov/nezperceclearwater Information on fire restrictions across the state is located at http://www.idahofireinfo.com/.

Forest and Fire Management Staff considered the long-term effects of smoke in their decision to manage fires in the wilderness and roadless areas.  Fire managers are working with air quality specialists to monitor smoke and potential impacts to communities.  For current air quality in Idaho, please visit http://www.deq.idaho.gov/air-quality/burning/current-wildfire-smoke-info/ and for Montana http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/smokereport/mostrecentupdate.aspx .

Current status by district: 

Salmon River Ranger District
Wednesday the Hanover fire (20,221 acres) had some increased fire activity on the north side where it pushed to Umbrella Butte, but favorable winds kept it moving into the wilderness.  Activity on the northwest side of the fire into Boulder Creek was minimal.  The west and south edges of the fire were quiet Thursday, and activity remains west of Sheep Creek on the east side   This fire is being heavily patrolled and containment lines actively monitored.  Two 20-person crews, three engines, a type 3 and a type 2 helicopter, and various pieces of heavy equipment remain assigned to the incident.   Information for the Hanover fire is available at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5459/.  

Three new fires have been staffed:  the Center Ridge fire (approx. 250 acres), the Johnson Ridge fire (1 acre), and the Squaw fire (.25 acre) two miles northeast of Bald Mountain.  Firefighters are working to suppress the fires, supported by aerial water drops.  Reports of additional fires are being investigated.

For more information on fire activity or closures on Salmon River Ranger District, please call (208) 839-2211.

Lochsa/Powell Ranger District
The Andys Hump fire (estimated 70-80 acres), 4 miles east of Coolwater Lookout, is burning in timber and brush on the north and south sides of Coolwater Ridge.  The Glover fire (25-30 acres), 3.5 miles east of Coolwater Lookout, is burning slowly north-northeast.  A closure order is in effect for a portion of the Eagle Mountain Trail #206 and one is expected for a segment of Road #317 in the vicinity of the Coolwater Lookout.  The Old Man fire (25-30acres), one mile east of Old Man Point in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, is moving downhill in brush.  All of these fires are being managed for resource benefit, utilizing point protection strategies.  For information on these fires, please call the Kooskia office at (208) 926-4274.

An additional closure order has been implemented for approximately two miles of Packers Meadow Road #373 from the Idaho/Montana border.  Crews assigned to the Lolo Peak fire will continue to patrol and monitor the area of an earlier burnout.

Fire activity was moderated Wednesday on the Hidden fire (approx. 7,909 acres), at Hidden Lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, due to an inversion over the area most of the day.  Winds produced by afternoon thunderstorms did not hit the fire area.  The fire remains approximately one-half mile from the Idaho/Montana boundary.  Trail closures remain in effect for the safety and protection of the public.  Smoke is expected to impact the local area as well as the Bitterroot and Missoula Valleys.  For information on the Hidden fire or closures, please call the Powell office at (208) 942-3113.

Moose Creek Ranger District
One new fire at Donner Point has been staffed.  Firefighters are completing line and will install hose lays today in efforts to suppress the fire.  The Falls fire (29 acres) continues to burn in the Falls Creek drainage, but remains within the containment line. 

Significant fires in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness include:  Buck Lake fire (2,316 acres) pushed nearly a mile to the east, with short-range spotting to the east; Moose Creek 1 fire (14,858 acres); Lone Pine fire (10,152 acres) has merged with both the Mink Peak and Tony fires and continues to move east towards Moose Ridge and northeast toward the Selway River and the Moose Creek 1 fire;  Chute Creek fire (approx. 2,460 acres); Pettibone fire (approx.. 307 acres);  Lonesome fire (6 acre).  Fire mangers continue to communicate with the Bitterroot National Forest regarding fires with potential to move onto that forest.
These wilderness fires are being monitored by air.  Various identified values at risk continue to be under point protection, including lookouts and bridges. An area closure and trail closures remain in effect.  Visitors recreating on the Selway River should expect to see smoke and fire in the area and should use caution, watching for falling trees and other hazards.
For more information on fire activity or area closures on the Moose Creek Ranger District, please call (208) 926-4258.

Red River Ranger District
Seven fires were reported and staffed Wednesday.  The Flat Iron fire, the Stag fire; the Mike fire, and the Red Horse fire are all contained.  Firefighters have lined the French fire, 3 miles southeast of Elk City, and the Blanco fire, 5 miles north of the Red River administrative site.  The Aardvark fire (.25 acre), 8 miles east of Elk City on Simmons Ridge is staffed and being suppressed with the assistance of aerial water drops.  The Bat fire is out.

The Patrol Ridge fire (580 acres), 4.5 miles east of Windy Saddle, continues steady growth around the perimeter, including north toward the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. 

Minimal fire activity is seen on wilderness fires on the district.  The Rattlesnake Point fire (approx. 4,626 acres) between Rattlesnake Creek and Sabe Creek on the Salmon River continues to have minimal growth to the north toward Rattlesnake Point and along Trail #577.  Due to lack of significant growth over the past weeks, this will be the last report for theBleak fire (182 acres) north of Sheep Hill Lookout and  the Plummer fire (estimated 200 acres), east of the Hanover fire.  An area closure and trail closures remain for the safety and protection of the public.

Visitors to the Red River Ranger District wanting to travel the Magruder Corridor Road, Forest Road 468 to Darby, Montana, are advised that there is no through traffic.  The road is closed by due to fire activity on the Nelson Creek fire.  The road is closed 4 miles west of its junction with the West Fork Road (Montana State Highway 473).   For more information about the Nelson Creek fire and closure, please see InciWeb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5549/.

For more information on fire activity or area closures on the Red River Ranger District, please call (208) 842-2245.

For fire information on Hanover, Moose Creek 1, Rattlesnake Point, Lone Pine, Mink Peak, Chute, and Hidden fires, please visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/13/# .