KAMIAH A Type I incident management team is en route to Lawyers Creek Canyon approximately three miles west of Kamiah, where lightning storms caused more than two dozen fires in the area yesterday. Across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and in surrounding lands, more than 100 fires have been confirmed. A Type II team was due to arrive at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
"We're expecting another 50 to 80 more," combined forests fire information officer Rae Brooks said. "We do have several threatening structures."
"The situation is really dynamic," Brooks noted. "We're still identifying them -- we have people up in the air looking for more fires."
Update (9:15 a.m. Tuesday): "It seems our quiet fire season has come to an end," Vickie Guthrie of the Red River Ranger District said.
The Red River Ranger District reported 19 new fires ignited by lightning in the Pilot Knob and upper Newsome Creek drainage areas, eight of which are already staffed at about a tenth of an acre each. More firefighters are en route to some of the others. Inasmuch as lightning activity was intense in those general areas, Josh Bransford, District Fire Management Officer, anticipates that even more fires may appear.
The Little Green Fire was also found Monday 1.5 miles northwest of the Green Mountain Lookout. It is estimated at a quarter acre. This fire is a low priority at the present time and is not staffed.
Earlier in the week, the Flint Fire was discovered Aug. 9 three miles south of the Lumber Luke Campground north of Elk City. It is one-tenth acre and is in patrol status. The Crown Fire, five miles south of the 14 Mile Trailhead on the Magruder Corridor, in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness has demonstrated more active fire behavior over the past week and has grown to an estimated 100 acres. That fire continues to be actively monitored by air.
The weeks-old Blue Fire, ignited June 27 four miles southeast of Dixie, continues to be monitored both from the ground and by air patrol. Over the past few weeks, there has been no increase in acreage of the Blue Fire, and it remains at 325 acres.
The forecast for the next few days is calling for temperatures well above normal through Thursday, with potential for scattered thunderstorms Tuesday and Wednesday. Gusty winds remain a concern. With the chance of wetting rains at 10 percent and expected humidity in the 20 percent range, new fires are likely.
Stage One fire restrictions remain in effect except in designated wilderness areas.
Update (10:30 a.m. Tuesday): Lightning sparked more than 70 new fires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests during the past 24 hours. Fire managers are busy staffing the new fires, identifying additional starts, and planning for numerous new fires expected from thunderstorms today.
An additional 25 starts are burning on state and private land. Fire managers from all land-management agencies are working together to ensure the protection of life, property and structures.
Bob Fry’s Northern Rockies Type 2 Incident Management Team has been assigned to handle a fire burning on state land in Lawyer’s Creek Canyon near Kamiah.
During the storm, more than 2,500 lightning strikes hit the area.
Temperatures are expected to be well above normal area over the next few days, with scattered thunderstorms today and Wednesday. Gusty winds remain a concern. With the chance of wetting rains at 10 percent and humidity predicted in the 20 percent range, new starts are likely.
Lochsa Ranger District: 25 new fires, including at least five in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Salmon River Ranger District: 25 new fires in the Pilot Knob area, including two under the Pilot Knob Lookout.
Red River Ranger District: 19 new fires in the Pilot Knob and upper Newsome Creek drainages. Eight are already staffed.
Moose Creek Ranger District: Five new fires, all staffed.
North Fork Ranger District: Three new fires early Monday, holdovers from thunderstorms on Sunday night. All are staffed and expected to be completed today.
Palouse Ranger District: No new fires.
Powell Ranger District: No new fires.
Update (10:33 a.m. Tuesday): Due to wildfire smoke in our area, an Air Quality Advisory is now in effect for the Nez Perce Reservation.
Update (noon Tuesday): MAGGIE CREEK - Numerous fires were reported after lightning came through our area, Monday, August 10. Currently, resources from Idaho Department of Lands, United States Forest Service and the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association are supporting suppression efforts in the Kamiah and Orofino areas.
As high temperatures, low relative humidity and additional thunderstorms are predicted for the next few days, fire officials anticipate additional fires to be reported. A Type 2 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team has been ordered and will arrive in the area this evening to support suppression efforts.
Firefighter and public safety are being assessed and fires are being prioritized for suppression. Reducing risk to firefighters and the public is the first priority in every fire management activity.
Fire officials encourage the public to call their local agencies for road closures and other restrictions. The public is asked not to access an area that has active fire.
Other supporting agencies include Idaho and Lewis County Rural Fire Departments, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Corrections, and Yukon Territory.
The main Kamiah-area fire has been named the Lawyers Complex. It is currently staffed by multi-agency personnel. Fire is actively burning. Additional information will be released as it becomes available. In addition, fire information will also be added to InciWeb and can be located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.
100 personnel are working the Lawyers Complex Fire, which is listed at 800 acres and zero percent containment.
Update (2:30 p.m. Tuesday): Per Inciweb, Level II evacuations are being implemented on the north side of Highway 64 in connection with the Lawyers Complex fire. Level II evacuations indicate that residents need to be prepared to leave at a moments notice. Contact Lewis County Sheriff's office at (208) 937-2447 for more information.
Update (4:30 p.m. Tuesday): Per Inciweb, Highway 64 from Nezperce to Kamiah is closed due to active fire behavior.
Update (4:45 p.m. Tuesday): Per Idaho Transportation Department, State Highway 162 is blocked at mile post 19, between Fort Misery Road and Lawyer Creek Road due to forest fire west of Kamiah.
Update (5 p.m. Tuesday): Per Idaho Transportation Department, State Highway 162 is no longer blocked.
Update (5:15 p.m. Tuesday): As of 4:30 p.m. the Red River District reported 17 fires in the Pilot Knob and northern Newsome Creek drainage, all of which are staffed except for one reported 30 minutes ago. Firefighters were making good progress toward suppression of all of them until gusty winds kicked up the Baldy fire, 1.5 miles north of Pilot Knob Lookout. It is making a push to the west toward Road 466 and the District boundary. Because of safety concerns, all ground personnel were immediately pulled away from that fire to appropriate safety zones. The fire continues to be attacked by air.
"I know that Newsome landowners are very concerned about their inholdings, so I’m going to go into a little more detail than usual about the locations of the fires nearest the Newsome town site," Red River Ranger District's Vickie Guthrie said. "Four fires are in the immediate vicinity of the Pilot Knob Lookout and roughly three miles west of the town site, while the Nugget Fire is 1.5 miles east of the town site, and the Wagon Fire is 1.5 miles northwest of the town site along Road 284. Josh Bransford tells me that 'there is no immediate threat to the private properties at Newsome.' In fact, we have not yet evacuated the Pilot Knob Lookout."
Two fires were found in the vicinity of the Red River Hot Springs. The 1166 Fire is one mile south of the hot spring, and the Butter Fire is 2.25 miles SE of it. Both fires are staffed. "It turns out that the fire I reported this morning as the Little Green Fire is actually the Butter Fire just mentioned," Guthrie said.
The Gold Point Fire was just called in by a member of the public and a firefighter is looking for its exact location, but it is approximately three miles south of Elk City in the general vicinity of Gold Point.
At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Elk City office reported a thunder cell, bringing with it a downpour of rain, hail and high winds.
Update (9 p.m. Tuesday): The interagency website idahofireinfo.blogspot.com notes a Northern Rockies Type I Incident Management Team has been assigned to the Lawyer Complex near Kamiah. A Type II team from western Montana received an in-briefing this afternoon and will take command of the complex at 6 a.m. tomorrow.
Greg Poncin's Type I team is slated to arrive tomorrow and will be in-briefed in Orofino at 6 p.m. Command will pass from Bob Fry's Type II team to Poncin's team the following day. Lightning from thunderstorms that passed through North Central Idaho Monday sparked more than 100 new fires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and nearby state and private lands.
Firefighters continue to detect new areas from yesterday's storm, and more new starts are expected after lightning again hit the area today. The highest-priority fires are concentrated in four main areas: Kamiah, Pilot Knob, Syringa and Lolo Creek. At least 25 fires are burning in the Kamiah area and another 25 have been identified around Pilot Knob. Firefighters are also evaluating a cluster of 10 fires at Mex Mountain.
The Lawyer Complex consists of 21 fires, all started Monday by lightning, The fires total about 800 acres, and are burning in steep canyons on the north side of Highway 64, which runs between Kamiah and Nezperce.
With hot, dry conditions and more thunderstorms predicted for the next few days, fire managers anticipate that the number of fires will grow.
Level II evacuations are in place for the Lawyer Complex on the north side of Highway 64 between Mile Posts 20 and 30.5 and on Highway 12 from Mile Posts 61 to 64. Under Level II evacuations, residents should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. For more information on evacuations, call the Lewis County Sheriff's office at 208-937-2447. Highway 64 from Nezperce to Kamiah has been closed because of fire activity.