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Pittsburg Fire: Hotshot crews working in Big River Canyon

Closure area map available for download; meeting set for 7 p.m. MT in Riggins

Pittsburg Fire map with closure area, July 18.

Pittsburg Fire map with closure area, July 18.

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Wallowa-Whitman Forest Supervisor John Laurence has implemented an area, road, and trail closure for the Pittsburg Fire, which is located on the Idaho side of the Snake River in Hells Canyon north of Pittsburg Landing between Jones Creek and Big Canyon Creek.

Deer Creek Road (also known as Pittsburg Road or County Road 493), Pittsburg Landing Campground, the boat ramp and parking lot, and the Snake River all remain open. In addition, the Oregon side of the Snake River is open for visitors travelling the river. However, all lands within one quarter of a mile of the Snake River on the Idaho side, beginning at Pittsburg Landing north to Getta Creek are closed to the public.

Visitors travelling to the Pittsburg area should be aware of the additional fire traffic on the Deer Creek Road (County Road 493) and drive with caution. There is also a helibase at Pittsburg Landing so fire activity will be occurring in that area. Recreationists on the river may also encounter helicopters dipping out of the Snake River and need to stay clear of these hovering aircraft when activities are occurring.

The area closure for the fire and vicinity begins in the Northwest corner of the area closure (Section 1, T27, R2W) where it meets the Snake River; then follows the border of National Forest Service (NFS) lands to the east to the border of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Nez Perce National Forest (Howard Ridge); then follows the border between the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the Nez Perce National Forest heading south to County Road 493 (Deer Creek Road); then heads west and south along the north-side of County Road 493 (Deer Creek Road) approximately 700 feet to the Pittsburg Landing Campground; then heads west and north another 700 feet from the Pittsburg Landing Campground to the Snake River; and finally north along the Snake River to the northwest corner of Section 1, T27, R2W where it meets the Snake River. National Forest System Road 1805 and any unmarked roads or trails in the area closure are closed as well. See attached map.

The lightning caused wildfire has burned 8,000 acres in the Jones Creek and Big Canyon Creek areas of the Hells Canyon NRA. The fire is burning mostly in grass, and is currently burning on, or threatening federal, state, and private lands. Firefighters have been aggressively fighting this fire, but are concerned about the forecast and fuel conditions. “Public and firefighter safety is a significant concern, and incident management personnel are looking at all options for suppression,” stated Forest Supervisor John Laurence. “Our Washington Type II Team 1, led by Incident Commanders Mike Ciraulo and Bob Johnson, is working with the private landowners as conditions change,” added Laurence.

Currently, there are approximately 200 personnel on the fire, 5 crews, 7 engines, 3 helicopters, 1 air attack, and air tankers as needed. There are currently no evacuations. Incident Managers are working very closely with the Idaho County Sherriff who would make any decisions on evacuations and notify effected residents. Currently, the fire is 5% contained.

For more information:

• Phones: 208-239-2769 or 360-915-3821

• Inciweb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3965

• Email: pittsburgfire2014@gmail.com

UPDATE: "Suppression operations continued to be successful yesterday. The fire remained active in the Big River canyon area along the southwest perimeter of the fire," command noted in its July 18 morning update. "Firefighters will continue to construct and strengthen firelines around the fire perimeter. Dozer and hand lines have been constructed around significant portions of the fire. A hot shot crew will work in Big River Canyon today and construct fire line. Contingency control lines are being constructed in the event that the fire grows beyond its current perimeter. The fire will be monitored throughout the night."

A dry cold front is expected to bring wind through the area this weekend.

A public meeting will be held at Salmon River High School in Riggins, at 7 PM (MDT) in the Old Band Room tonight.

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