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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Highline Fire Update - Sept. 6


Location: The Highline Fire and Goat Fire are both burning on the Payette National Forest, Krassel Ranger District, entirely within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (https://tinyurl.com/y8qomgpm), approximately 23 miles east/northeast of Warren, Idaho.
Date of OriginJuly 28, 21017 @ approx. 7:00 p.m.
Cause: Started by lightning
Current Size: Highline Fire: 70,938 acres / Goat Fire: 605 Acres
Current SituationThe Highline Fire continued to actively burn under a thick layer of smoke. The most active area is located on the southwestern perimeter in the Ramey Creek watershed. The fire in this area is burning in thick timber and continues to burn aggressively with torching, limited crown fire and spotting out to one quarter mile. The fire advanced approximately one half mile in this area on Tuesday. Heavy smoke is slowing fire spread on other portions of the incident. On the western, northern and eastern perimeters the fire continues to actively back with average spread distances of one tenth to one third of a mile per day. The smoke is not expected to begin clearing out until Thursday muting overall fire behavior. After several days of limited growth due to being inundated with smoke, the Goat Fire experienced favorable winds and daytime warming resulting in moderate growth to the southwest. A RED FLAG Warning is in effect until 10:00 p.m. tonight for a Haines of 6 (high level of atmospheric instability). Hot, dry, and unstable conditions will continue over the fire area through tonight under a ridge of high pressure. Thick smoke over the fire area will also continue, and will likely limit the impact of instability. North winds will continue through at least today with the earliest chance for thunderstorms beginning Thursday afternoon. The chance of thunderstorms will increase Friday afternoon into the weekend. Firefighters will continue to monitor the Highline and Goat Fires for impingement of Management Action Points that will prompt additional point protection at other Values at Risk within the Fire Planning Area. Active point protection efforts will continue at Root Ranch and Cold Meadows. Fire progression to the south has triggered the need to assess the areas around Smith Creek, Big Creek and the Edwardsburg community approximately 10 miles to the southwest of the fire. Passive point protection will occur at the Lower Chamberlain Bridge, Arctic Point and Rock Rabbit Lookouts and the bridges in the Big Creek area. Firing operations will begin around Root Ranch if necessary. Fire progression towards additional Management Action Points and Values at Risk including Sheepeater and Butts Point Lookouts, Fern Creek Cabin, and priority areas along the Salmon River Corridor will be monitored to determine the need for point protection actions. Stonebraker and Chamberlain Guard Station will be monitored by air.
Percent Containment: The Highline and Goat Fires have no current containment. They are lightning-caused, natural fires burning in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Firefighters 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 to firefighter exposure, inaccessible terrain, or other limitations.
Fire Management StrategyThe 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, for the right reason. This management approach allows the Highline Fire to play its natural role in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to achieve ecological benefits for enhancement of forest health and wildlife habitat, while protecting values at risk and providing for firefighter and public safety. Suppression actions will be taken where lightning 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 if threatened by the fire.
Fire ResourcesFire crews assigned include the Boise Interagency Hotshot Crew, the Teton Wildland Fire Module, and the Salmon-Challis Crew #7. Crews and miscellaneous overhead are spiked-out at Root Ranch. Firefighters may need to conduct burnout operations and point protection to protect Root Ranch, Cold Meadows, and values along the Salmon River Corridor. Fireline leadership, safety officers and paramedics are also with the crews. Crews are being supported (food, water, equipment, supplies) with two light helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. A total of 91 personnel are assigned to the overall incident. An Incident Command Post is setup in McCall to coordinate all fire response and support actions.
Values at RiskRoot Ranch, Cold Meadows Guard Station, Lower Chamberlain Bridge, Arctic Point, Butts Point, Sheepeater and Rock Rabbit Lookouts, and values along the Salmon River corridor from Corn Creek to Lantz Bar. Threats to the historic structures at Stonebraker and Chamberlain have been reduced. Infrastructure located along the Salmon River Corridor include the Salmon River Lodge, Corn Creek Boat Launch and Campground, Horse Creek Bridge, Stub Creek and Lantz Bar Guard Stations, and Fern Creek Cabin. Root Ranch is a private inholding with 12 structures. Cold Meadows Guard Station has five administrative buildings at the site. Point protection has been successful in safeguarding and protecting structures. There have been no losses or damage to any structures.
Fuels and Terrain: These fires are burning through a diverse and variable landscape due to a history of large fires in the area. Vegetative communities can be described as ranging from sparse grass/brush on the lower to mid-slopes of the Salmon River, through a zone of ponderosa pine/Douglas fir on the canyon’s upper slopes to a mixture of Lodgepole pine/subalpine fir at the highest elevations. Previous fires left a mosaic of conditions in the timber fuel types, with areas of relatively clean understories to areas of jackstraw dead and down with an over-story of regeneration. The most significant fire movement has been through areas of heavy dead and down fuels in association with a timber over-story. The fire has burned very active when the relative humidity is less than 16%; wind gusts are greater than 20 mph; temperatures greater than 80 degrees and a Haines Index of 4 or more. Typical burn periods are from mid-day to early evening.
Injuries: None to-date
Closures: The Chamberlain Airstrip is closed due to fire activity. The Cold Meadows Airstrip is closed due to runway conditions. A Forest Area Closure Order is also in effect for the Highline Fire area. The Cabin Creek Airstrip is closed due to being within the closure area. Please visit the following link for the Highline Fire Area Closure Order: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5500/40016/.
Fire Restrictions: The Payette National Forest is under STAGE 1 FIRE RESTRICTIONSClick this link for designated sites where campfires are allowed. If a site is not signed as being a designated site, then campfires are not allowed at that site. There are no fire restrictions in the Frank Church River or No Return Wilderness. For more information: http://www.idahofireinfo.com/p/wilderness-fire-restrictions.html.
For More Information: Follow the Payette National Forest on Twitter at @Payette Forest, and on Facebook at U.S. Forest Service – Payette National Forest. Subscribe to email updates via GovDelivery at https://goo.gl/R2fDJr. If you have a question, please email us at payettefireinformation@gmail.com. Visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5500/ for more information on the Highline and other fires throughout the nation and www.idahofireinfo.com for information on fires throughout the state of Idaho.
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