LOWELL – Last week’s bout of wet weather gave firefighters the upper hand on several local blazes.
As of last Tuesday morning, Aug. 19, the Johnson Bar Fire totaled 7,850 acres 10 miles southeast of Syringa.
With favorable weather for “burning out” forecast in the Johnson Bar Fire area last Monday, Aug. 18, increased activity was anticipated near the Selway River confluence as command worked to seal off the main fire’s north and east edges. Lines on the south side of the fire were completed last Sunday, Aug. 17, and the northwest indirect lines were constructed down Lodge Creek to the Middle Fork Clearwater River. A burnout near the confluence was completed Aug. 18, and another was planned “to check the northerly progression of the fire in Decker Creek.”
A portion of the Johnson Bar Fire above Lowell on the north side of the Clearwater was staffed with one engine on Monday. A group tasked with structure protection and initial attack of any new fires worked in the Selway Corridor and along U.S. Highway 12. Evacuation notices and closure orders remained in effect, with only residents of the Selway River corridor allowed access up the Selway River Road from U.S. Highway 12.
Johnson Bar, Wild Goose and O’Hara campgrounds remain closed, as do: Road 470 (Swiftwater Road) from Swiftwater Bridge to Road 286; Road 651 (O’Hara Road) from O’Hara Bridge to Road 1129; Road 1129 from Road 286 to Road 651 and the Selway River from O’Hara Bridge to the confluence.
While an interagency command team departed the Rain (3,990 acres), Myers (2,001 acres) and Prospector (71 acres) fire complex last Monday, Aug. 18, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest prepared to keep a 20-person crew in place for structure protection “if needed.” An area southeast of Elk City bounded by Forest Road No. 421, Forest Road No. 468 and several trails – mostly Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness – remains closed to the general public. Campsites along the Salmon River remain open, as do the boundary roads and trails.
Last week, the Red River Ranger District also responded to: the Narrows Fire, 1.5 miles northwest of Ox Bow Campground; the Williams Fire, five miles south of Old Golden; the Prong Fire, 3.5 miles north of Green Mountain; the Elk Fire, five miles north of Green Mountain Lookout; the Wildhorse and Rocky fires (near Wildhorse Campground); the Slaughter Fire in the Gospel Hump Wilderness; and the Steep Fire, four miles southeast of Sheep Hill Lookout.
The Somers Fire on the Oregon side of the Snake River was last reported 58 percent contained at 35,917 acres with 373 personnel assigned.
Details about fires across the state and the nation are online at inciweb.nwcg.gov.