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54 new wildfires sparked Tuesday; more than 150 now burning in the area

Helicopters continued to attack on the Lawyer Complex fires west of Kamiah on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 12.

Contributed photo / Gail Stowers
Helicopters continued to attack on the Lawyer Complex fires west of Kamiah on Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 12.



(This story has been updated. See the updates below.)

Lightning sparked another 54 new wildfires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests during the past 24 hours.

More than 150 fires are now burning on the combined forests and nearby state and private lands.

Yesterday, lightning from thunderstorms that passed through northcentral Idaho caused more than 100 new fires. With resources stretched thin, firefighters are working hard to contain as many fires as possible while continuing to identify new starts.

Hot, dry weather will persist through Friday, with additional fire starts likely. Friday is expected to be a critical fire day. Then a cold front will move through the area, dropping temperatures by 15 to 20 degrees.

The highest-priority fires are concentrated in four 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.

A smokejumper on the Big Hill Fire suffered a broken femur yesterday and was quickly transported by air to hospital in Lewiston.

A prescribed burn planned for the North Fork Ranger District this week has been postponed because of increased fire activity and smoke concerns. It will be rescheduled for a future date.

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Thunderstorms moving through the northern part of Idaho County sparked a fire near Reubens at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Fire activity in the past 24 hours:

Lochsa Ranger District: At least 23 new fires. Firefighters were forced to pull off the two biggest fires in the

district because of increased fire activity. The Big Hill and Syringa Fires both started Tuesday. At least two other

fires were controlled and two more were contained.

North Fork Ranger District: Eleven new fires. Firefighters expect to control two fires today.

Moose Creek Ranger District:Thirteen new fires. At least two of the fires have been controlled.

Powell Ranger District: Three new fires. Crews are looking for a fourth reported fire.

Salmon River Ranger District: One new fire. Firefighters were pulled off the Pilot Knob Fire yesterday because of increased fire activity.

Red River Ranger District: Three new fires. Two fires were controlled yesterday and three were contained.

Firefighters were pulled off fires in the Pilot Knob area of the district yesterday because of fire growth.

Check back for updates later today as information becomes available.

Update (11:30 a.m. Wednesday): A storm moving through the area north of Idaho County and presently in the vicinity of Dworshak Reservoir sparked a fire in a stubble field bordering timber near Reubens. Kristen Wright said a helicopter and an airplane have been working the fire, and local farmers went out to disc fields to protect their property.

At 11 a.m. the National Weather Service in Missoula said the storm would threaten the Dworshak area with wind and lightning through this hour.

Update (2:42 p.m. Wednesday): The Idaho Transportation Department is reporting a blockage on Highway 64 between McCloud Road and Ida Road (2 to 4 miles west of the Kamiah area). The road is blocked. Look out for a forest fire.

Update (3:45 p.m. Wednesday): The Idaho Transportation Department is reporting a closure of State Highway 162 between Fort Misery Road (two miles west of the Kamiah area) and Ash Street (Kamiah). The road is closed. Look out for a forest fire. State Highway 64 is closed between Lyons Road (three miles east of Nezperce) and the junction with State Highway 162. A pilot car is in use on U.S. Highway 12 west of Kamiah, as the road is reduced to one lane two miles west of Kamiah. The latest information about travel is available at 511.idaho.gov.

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Helicopters continue to fight the Lawyers Complex fires near Kamiah.

Update (4 p.m. Wednesday): The Idaho County Sheriffs Office is conducting evacuations along State Highway 162 in areas north of Thorn Springs Road and south of Lawyer Creek Road (Flying B Ranch Area). Residents west of and serviced by State Highway 64 from milepost 30 to the end of the pavement and the three-mile corridor located immediately west of State Highway 162 are under Stage 3 (mandatory) evacuations.

Update (5 p.m. Wednesday): The Lawyer Complext Incident Management Team has created a Lawyer Complex Facebook page, a link to which is available through Inciweb, here.

Update (5 p.m. Wednesday): A new map of Lawyer Complex mandatory evacuation areas has been released via inciweb.

Update (6:15 p.m. Wednesday): This just in from Idaho Department of Lands: Hundreds of lightning strikes, high winds, and hot temperatures have resulted in multiple large fires throughout Idaho.

Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) has ordered Type 2 Incident Management Teams (IMT) and a Type 1 Incident Management Team for several fires and a complex of fires in its fire protection areas. Here is a quick overview.

Lawyer Complex - This complex is made up of 21 fires and is approximately 2,000 acres between Kamiah and Orofino. It started Monday (8/10) at about 5:30 p.m. Bob Fry’s Northern Rockies Type 2 Incident Management Team started this morning and is concentrating on the main section of the Complex. Greg Poncin’s Type 1Incident Management Team out of Northwest Montana will arrive tonight to assist with the portion of the complex on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. There are currently 300 personnel working on the fire complex. Updates on the fire, any possible evacuations and road closures can be found here http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4477/

Fisher – This fire is approximately 700 acres, and is burning in heavy timber on a steep area of Big Canyon approximately six miles north of Craigmont. It was reported 6:30 a.m. this morning (8/12). There are 80 personnel currently working the fire with a Type 2 IMT ordered and expected to arrive tomorrow (8/13). IDL crews are being assisted by the Camas Prairie Task Force and the Winchester Rural Fire Department.

West Scriver – This fire is approximately 300 acres, and is 13 miles north of Crouch. Half the land is Idaho Endowment Land the other half if Payette National Forest. It is within the South Idaho Timber Protection Agency jurisdiction. It was reported Monday (8/10) evening. Fire crews made progress today but continue to face the challenges of poor access, heavy timber, and hot temperatures. A Type 3 IMT is on scene and a Type 2 IMT has been ordered and should arrive tomorrow afternoon (8/13.) There are approximately 150 personnel working the fire. More information can be found here http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4470/

Also, this just in from the Payette National Forest: The Payette National Forest has continued to be busy with small lightning-caused fires. There are two new fires and 11 existing fires we continue to manage. Dave Vining, Deputy Fire Staff Officer with the Forest, noted that “Increased fire activity and the hot, dry weather have created some challenges for firefighters, but we continue to be successful in our initial response efforts.”

The Fish Fire burned on private lands today west of the Little Ski Hill. The fire is being managed by the Southern Idaho Timber Protection Association (SITPA) and has attracted some public interest due to its proximity to McCall. The Forest Service is assisting SITPA with fire suppression efforts on the Fish Fire, providing a 20 person handcrew, a type 2 helicopter with 3 rappellers and bucket support, an engine and public information support.

The weather forecast for the next few days is calling for hot temperatures with gusty winds and more lightning, increasing the potential for new starts and increased fire activity on existing fires. The Forest has brought in additional crews from outside the area to supplement local resources and incoming crews are already being assigned to the new fires.

Status update by fire is provided below for each district. Note that some fires include updated size estimates or location information from previous reports due to improved mapping. Fires that are declared out from previous updates are no longer listed.

New Meadows Ranger District:

Teepee: (.10 acre) Located East of Teepee Springs and Hazard Creek drainage, fire activity is smoldering and creeping and but has the potential for roll out. Staffed with four firefighters.

McCall Ranger District:

Loon Creek: (1 acre) Located south of Loon Mountain, fire is burning in light fuels with no real potential to spread. Fire is being monitored.

Blue: (.10 acre) Located south of Blue Lake and Pony Meadows. Fire is out.

Porphyry: (.10 acre) Located west of Porphyry Creek in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Burning in the top of a broken snag in inaccessible ground. Fire is being monitored.

Smith: (1.5 acre) Located west of the Middle Fork of Salmon River in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, burning in brush and snags, staffed with 12 firefighters. Fire is 75% contained.

Krassel Ranger District:

Wangdoodle: (.75 ac) This is a new start located 8 miles south of Warren. Active fire behavior. Currently staffed with aviation and ground resources, additional resources are in route.

Missouri Ridge: (1 ac) This is a new start located 5 miles east of Yellow Pine in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Currently staffed with smokejumpers, handcrew, and helicopter for bucket drops.

Mosquito: (.25 to 0.50 acre) Located on the east side of Mosquito Ridge in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Minimal fire activity. Fire is being monitored.

Trout: (.10 acre) Located 5 miles north of Sheepeater Lookout in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Minimal fire activity. Fire is being monitored.

Dillinger: (.10 acre) Located 3 miles east of Dillinger Meadows in the Frank Church of No Return Wilderness. Fire is being monitored.

Oompaul: (.50 acres) Located 1.5 miles from Williams Peak Lookout. There are 6 firefighters on scene making good progress with containment estimated tonight.

Buckhorn: (.10 acre) Located 1 mile east of Buckhorn Summit and Miners Peak. There are 2 Rappelers on scene. Fire is controlled.

Clay: (.10 acre) Located on the south side of Lick Creek road at the summit. No activity. Fire is being monitored.

Update (12:45 a.m. Thursday): A Type II Incident Management Team was assigned Wednesday to a fire burning seven miles north of Craigmont in the upper reaches of Big Canyon Creek. The Fisher Fire has grown to about 700 acres since being confirmed early Wednesday morning.

"The team will be in place tomorrow and assume command of the fire early Friday morning," Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests fire information officer Rae Brooks said.

Eleven new starts, most of them small, were confirmed on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Wednesday. Firefighters worked to contain fires, then moved onto others. Two of the new starts remained unstaffed.

An interagency task force, assembled last week to provide initial attack in the area, worked all day on the Fisher Fire, concentrating on corralling spot fires.

Two other incident management teams had earlier been assigned to the Lawyer Complex near Kamiah. A bigger Type I team will also be in place tomorrow, helping to manage fires in the Kamiah area. The new team is being in-briefed in Orofino this evening.

Another new fire, Old Greer, is burning in steep, heavily forested terrain about a mile west of Greer on the Old Greer Grade. The Craig Hotshots from northwestern Colorado staffed the fire on their own today. It has now about 30 acres.

The Big Hill Fire, near Syringa, burned actively on all flanks, and onto the 5515 Road. Firefighters placed hose on the 5515 Spur Road to bring water to the fire. Woodrat, also near Syringa, is backing down toward the 5504 Road. It is now 30 acres. The fire is threatening the Woodrat repeater station.

Update (1 a.m. Thursday): The Red Cross is opening a shelter for evacuees from the Lawyer Complex Fire. The shelter is located at the Clearwater Valley Elementary School at 306 Pine Avenue in Kooskia.



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