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Monday, August 20, 2018

Kiwah Fire Update - August 20th

...RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON TO 9 PM MDT FOR SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS AND GUSTY OUTFLOW WINDS…
The Central Idaho Dispatch Zone is at EXTREME Fire Danger. 

The lightning caused Kiwah Fire, was detected at approximately 5:30 p.m. on July 17, 2018.  Fire managers estimate size at 15,437 acres.  The fire is burning in a mixed conifer forest on the Middle Fork Ranger District and is being allowed to play, as nearly as possible, its natural ecological role in the environment while providing for firefighter and public safety.  The fire is located in steep, inaccessible terrain northwest of Indian Creek Guard Station within the Indian Creek drainage in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.  Yesterday, fire activity was minimal on all sides of the fire, with no significant growth.  Fire managers continue to monitor progress on the east side of the fire by lookouts.  The potential for the fire to continue to grow remains, as there are many burning areas within the fire perimeter. 

There are two closures associated with the Kiwah Fire.  The Salmon-Challis National Forest, Middle Fork Ranger District, Kiwah Fire Emergency Trail Closure Order #04-13-18-600 and the Payette National Forest, Krassel Ranger District, Kiwah Fire Emergency Road Closure: #0412-524.  The closure orders are on Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/5995/

Fire management is being coordinated between the Salmon-Challis National Forest and the Payette National Forest.  The Kiwah Fire is being managed to restore and maintain ecological process consistent with the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Management Plan.  A priority of fire mangers is providing employee and public safety while defending the identified values at risk.  Specific values potentially threatened with this fire include private property and mining infrastructure, Forest Service Guard Stations, Middle Fork Salmon River boat traffic, road and trail improvements, lookout buildings, communication sites, and cultural resources.  The cultural resources are abandoned, historical mining structures.  Challenges firefighters are facing on this incident include extended hot and dry conditions, heavy fuel loading, and limited availability of firefighting resources to support this fire. 

Firefighters are implementing a point protection strategy.  A point protection strategy is a wildfire response strategy, which protects specific assets or highly valued resources from the wildfire without directly halting the continued spread of the wildfire.  The strategy takes in to account exposure to firefighters, values at risk, impacts to area user groups, and in the case of the Kiwah Fire, wilderness values.  The selected point protection strategy was determined to best balance for protection of values and firefighter safety. 

To date firefighters have created protection plans for the Stibnite Mine Site, Thunder Mountain, Indian Creek Guard station, and Pistol Creek Ranch areas.  To date, significant progress has been made to implement these protection plans, with point protection measures in place on both the Salmon-Challis and Payette National Forests.  The fire will continue to be monitored for fire spread in the direction of these values.  There are 10 firefighters assigned to the Kiwah Fire.  Work will continue into the coming weeks. 

Firefighters and fire managers will continue to utilize the resources available complete the needed work as efficiently as possible.  Fire managers expect the Kiwah Fire will continue to spread until a significant precipitation event occurs.  Typically, season-ending weather events occur in this area between the last half of September through the first half of October. 
An upper low situated to our west will create the focus for fire weather concerns today.  Scattered thunderstorms will be the focus of concern across all zones particularly during the mid to late afternoon hours with gusty winds upwards of 60+mph.  Improving conditions are expected late evening.  Watch for quickly changing and shifting wind directions.

Nationally, there are 53 uncontained large fires in the west managed under a full suppression strategy, and 57 large fires managed under a strategy other than full suppression.  These fires are contributing to the smoke, which is drifting into the valleys surrounding Salmon and Challis.  The public can find further information on smoke at http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/https://arcg.is/1zfeqH, andhttp://idsmoke.blogspot.com/.

Updates and information will be provided as significant changes occur.  The Kiwah Fire is on Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5995/

Visit the Salmon-Challis National Forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/scnf/home, and check out News & Events, ‘Like Us’ onhttps://www.facebook.com/salmonchallisnf, and ‘Follow Us’ on https://twitter.com/SalmonChallisNF for further information.