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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Fire Update - September 9th

Kamiah, Idaho (September 9, 2017)– Firefighters are scrambling to respond to dozens of new fire starts associated with yesterday’s lightning storm which bombarded the forest south of U.S. Highway 12 with 100-150 lightning strikes.  According to Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert, preventing new fires from becoming established large incidents in the Forest’s number one priority.  “All available firefighting resources have been mobilized, and we are focusing efforts on fires where potential to life and property is highest,” she explained. 

Smoky conditions should improve by this afternoon as the high pressure system lifts, but that means increased wind speeds are expected, with gusts up to 30 mph on ridgetops, and will likely result in increased fire behavior. 

Two new fires from yesterday’s lightning have quickly elevated in priority on the Red River Ranger District.  The Big Elk fire is just north of Elk City and already at 75 acres.  Multiple resources including engines, smokejumpers, bulldozers and a hotshot crew are already assigned to the incident and firefighters are attacking the fire directly.  The Panther Fire is also a high priority.  The fire is located along the Magruder Corridor.  It is just 3 acres now, but Probert stated, “We are concentrating resources to keep it contained and not give it a chance to wrap around the face of the ridge and potentially drop into the Red River valley.”  

CURRENT STATUS BY DISTRICT
Moose Creek Ranger District (208) 926-4258
The Andys Hump fire is currently estimated at 1,535 acres and is burning across the Moose Creek and Lochsa/Powell Ranger Districts.  A Type 2 Incident Management Team (IMT) will take over management of the fire after today. Crews continue to focus efforts on establishing fuel breaks and structure protection measures around the community of Lowell.   The Andy’s Hump fire will be managed by the Team 2 Team along with the Glover and Old Man fires on the Lochsa/ Powell Ranger District as the “Coolwater Complex”.

The Falls fire (30 acres) in the Falls Creek drainage is 100% lined and continues to be monitored and patrolled.  The Brushy fire (102 acres) and the Freeman fire (376 acres) are burning in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.  The Lone Pine fire (12,369 acres) has advanced north of Bitch Lake to become well established in the upper Bitch Creek.  Buck Lake fire (3,920 acres) grew actively southeast and across Marten Creek, as well as north of Rock Pillar.  Moose Creek 1 fire (16,801 acres) is in the Freeman Creek drainage and is about .10 mile from the Freeman fire. Other fires in the wilderness include:  Crow 1 fire (91 acres), Crow 2 fire (120 acres), and Crow 3 fire (8 acres) all in the Crow Creek drainage; the Gardiner Fork fire (10-15 acres) near Gardiner Peak; the Wylies Ridge fire (20-30 acres) 2.5 miles southwest of Shearer Peak; the Ditch Creek fire (4 acres) in the vicinity of Wylies Peak; Chute Creek fire (2,753 acres); Barren Ridge fire (1,110) 1.6 miles south of California Point;  Ballinger fire (1,184 acres) 2.25 miles northwest of Pinchot Point; Isaac Lake fire (1,416 acres) 0.5 miles west of Isaac Lake; Dodge fire (50 acres);Pettibone fire (307 acres), 5 miles northeast of Selway Lodge; and Lonesome fire (23 acres), .5 miles north-northeast of Wylies Peak.  Various identified values at risk have protection measures in place.  An area closure and various 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.  Due to the number of fires reported, those under 250 acres will no longer be reported until size or behavior changes significantly.

Lochsa/Powell Ranger District Powell Office:  (208) 942-3113    Kooskia Office:  (208) 926-4274.
The Hidden fire, at Hidden Lake in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, did not receive any new infrared data to determine recent acreage as aircraft was unable to fly yesterday.  It was most recently estimated at 11,303 acres.  Most activity was on the northwest border with the spot over the Montana border growing to about 10 acres in the Fred Burr Creek drainage.  Getting helicopter support on the spot remains the highest priority for this fire. A new closure order is in effect on the Montana side of the Hidden fire.  For more information visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5446

Both the Glover fire (approx. 100 aces), burning 3.5 miles east of Coolwater Lookout, and the Old Man fire (approx. 650 acres), one mile southwest of Huckleberry Butte in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, will be managed along with Andy’s Hump as the “Coolwater Complex” by a Type 2 IMT after today.    The Little Weitas fire is still estimated to be 107 acres burning in heavy timber 0.75 miles north of Little Weitas Butte.  The Liz Butte fire grew to 686 acres, 0.5 miles north of the Liz Butte cabin, is staffed and structure protection measures are now in place for the cabin.  Both Little Weitas and Liz Butte fires are visible from the 500 road, which remains open.  Liz Butte Road 560 is closed to the cabin.  All of these fires are being managed for resource benefit, utilizing point protection strategies.  They are being monitored and patrolled by air and ground resources as conditions allow.  Trail and road closures are in effect for the public safety.   

Red River Ranger District (208) 842-2245
Four new fires were started yesterday as a result of lightning.  The Big Elk fire is estimated at 75 acres and burning north of Elk City.  Multiple engines, smokejumpers, heavy equipment and a hotshot crew are responding with air support expected.  The Panther Fire is near the Montana Road and estimated at 3 acres.  Crews are responding.  The Ring Fire, located in wilderness and estimated at 75 acres, is being monitored. 

Aerial resources have been successful in holding the Pronghorn fire is currently at 72 acres.  It is burning in timber 3.5 miles north-northeast of the Red River Hot Springs.  Given the potential for extreme fire behavior on this fire in steep terrain, there has been a limited number of firefighters put on the ground to make direct attack.  Fire managers continue to assess opportunities and work on control and mop-up.  An area closure is in effect for the protection and safety of the public.

The Patrol Ridge (807 acres) burning on the Moose Creek Ranger District in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness showed no significant growth in the last 24 hours.  Trail closures remain in effect.  In the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the Rattlesnake Point fire (4,775 acres) also shows minimal activity on the south-facing slope above Bear Creek.   An area closure and trail closures remain on for the safety and protection of the public.  For fire information on many of these fires, please visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/13/#.

Salmon River Ranger District (208) 839-2211
The Hanover fire is estimated at 26,000 acres.  The fire is holding in the Sheep Creek drainage and continues backing into Porcupine Creek.  Helicopter work will continue as conditions allow.  It 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 for a total of 92 personnel. Information for the Hanover fire is available at

One new fire start yesterday in the Rough Creek area is estimated between 20-30 acres.  The Twin Lakes fire, a located 2 miles north of Square Mountain, discovered on September 4, is estimated at 13.5 acres and is burning on both sides of the 383 trail.  The fire is being monitored but remains unstaffed at this time.  The Center Ridge fire is 250 acres and is controlled and being monitored by air. 

Palouse Ranger District (208) 661-5292.
The Strychnine fire is 1,010 acres is burning five miles northeast of Harvard, Idaho.  The fire is being managed by a type 3 incident management organization under the direction of Idaho Department of Lands.  Solid firelines are successfully preventing fire spread and no change is reported.  Nearly all of the fireline has access to water via portable via water tanks and hose lays.  Mop-up efforts are in effect. Smoke will continue to be thick due to weather conditions and multiple fires across the northwest.  An area closure is in effect.  Additional closures are in place on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices.  Information about the fire and closures are available athttps://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5586.



CLOSURES
For full details and maps about forest closures, please visit the forest website: www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices.
RESTRICTIONS
Restrictions:  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.  Information on fire restrictions across the state is located at http://www.idahofireinfo.com/  The Palouse Ranger District is divided by the Coeur D’Alene and Grangeville Dispatch Zones.  The portion of the Palouse Ranger District located in the Coeur d’Alene Dispatch Zone (which includes Laird Park and Giant White Pine Campgrounds and Bald Mountain Lookout) is in Stage II fire restriction and the portion located in the Grangeville Dispatch Zone is in Stage I fire restrictions.  For more information, please call the Palouse Ranger District at 208-875-1131

AIRQUALITY
Forest and Fire Management Staff consider 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.
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