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SUNDAY: Kamiah-area fire remains command's top priority

Lawyer Complex tops 20K acres; Clearwater Complex team managing Lawyer, Lolo, Fisher, Syringa and Pilot Knob fires

Aug. 14 in Kamiah.

Photo by David Rauzi
Aug. 14 in Kamiah.



(This story has been updated. Further updates can be found here.)

Nearly 800 personnel are now working the Clearwater Complex, which now exceeds 52,000 acres in size.

Three Incident Management Teams are currently assigned to the Clearwater Complex and are based in Kamiah, Kooskia and Craigmont. The Lawyer Complex, which exceeded 20,000 acres yesterday, remains command's top priority. In order of priority, the Clearwater Complex team is managing the Lawyer, Lolo, Fisher, Syringa and Pilot Knob fires. Here's the major update Clearwater Complex incident command sent out Saturday night, which is still the most current information command has made available:

Update (10 p.m. Saturday): The Clearwater Complex is now 52,759 in size, with 775 personnel working the fires. Here's the IMT's full report:

Three Incident Management Teams are currently assigned to the Clearwater Complex and are based in Kamiah, Kooskia and Craigmont, Idaho. Additional ground and aerial resources have been ordered. Air resources can only fly when weather and smoke conditions are favorable. Multiple lightning caused fires in the complex, in order of priority, are listed below:

Lawyer 2 Fire – Kamiah area. The areas west of Kamiah experienced moderate fire behavior. Some sections of the perimeter were placed in patrol status while resources were transferred to the Woodland area for structure protection. Mop up and cold-trailing operations were also conducted around yesterday’s weather-caused spot fires.

Mandatory Evacuations remain in place on the west, north and east sides of Kamiah outside of the city limits. U.S. Highway 12 is still open but may periodically have a pilot car moving traffic through the fire area north of Kamiah.

An estimated total of 50 primary structures and 75 outbuildings were lost due to wind driven fire activity. Early this morning, the Idaho County Sheriff and his deputies began working with firefighters within the fire area to identify and assess the condition of these structures prior to notifying affected property owners. Structure protection remained a high priority throughout the fire area.

Additional fires assigned to, and included in, the Lawyer 2 Fire acreage are Old Greer, Kamiah Gulch, Lawyer 6 and Adams Grade.

At approximately 4 p.m., Aug. 15, these fires were estimated at 20,580 acres and 15% containment.

Lolo 2 Fire – South of Weippe and north of Woodland (Woodland is approximately five miles northeast of Kamiah)

Significant progress was made putting line around the southwest, Woodland, and Harrisburg perimeters. Hot shot crews conducted some firing operations to remove ladder fuels. Land owners also provided significant assistance in structure protection which remained a high priority.

At approximately 4 p.m., Aug. 15, the fire was estimated at 3,300 and 0% containment.

Fisher Fire – Big Canyon area approximately 7 miles north of Craigmont.

This area experienced less wind today providing firefighters an opportunity to construct fireline along most of the north side. Most of the resources were from the Grangeville taskforce but local ranchers provided much needed support.

Evacuations will remain in place as there is still active fire on the landscape.

At approximately 4 p.m. Aug. 15, the fire was estimated at 20,000 acres and 0% containment.

Syringa Fires (Wood Rat and Big Hill fires) - northeast of Syringa

The Woodrat Fire is estimated at 3,400 acres with 5% containment. The Big Hill Fire is estimated at 100 acres with 10% containment. No additional information is available at this time.

Pilot Knob (Red River area). The fire area estimated at 100 acres with 0% containment. No additional information is available at this time.

New Firefighting Resources: We received two additional air resources today. One is a black hawk helicopter from the National Guard. The other will be assisting with recon.

Update (10:15 a.m. Sunday): From the Red River Ranger District:

Saturday was generally a good day on the Red River Ranger District. We now have 12 people available for initial attack of new fires. Also available are three dozers, a heavy helicopter and one skidgine (skidder with large water tank), with more in route. Crews were able to call “out” two fires in the Newsome drainage, and we expect to have two more out there today.

The Swale and Swale 2 Fires on the northern side of the Elk City Township are lined and crews are mopping them up.

The Deadwood Fire two miles northwest of the Jerry Walker Cabin is assigned to a Type 3 incident commander. The fire is estimated at 120 acres and has a dozer line around it. Today crews will work to “plumb” it with a hose lay.

The Bear Fire is located in difficult terrain 1.5 miles east of the Tribal fish facility on the Newsome Road (#1858). Firefighters were able to get a line around 80% of it Saturday.

We did pick up two new fires Saturday, the Lion and Pig Foot Fires, also in the Newsome drainage. At .10 acre each, both are staffed and were looking pretty good Saturday. Just recently (today) two additional fires have been spotted near Table Meadows Campground, and fire personnel are headed that way.

The Baldy Fire north of Pilot Knob Lookout is roughly 350 acres and is being monitored by a Type 3 incident commander. As mentioned Saturday, that fire and others at Pilot Knob will be made a part of the Clearwater Complex and assigned to Greg Poncin’s Type 1 Incident Management Team. The Newsome area residents have been advised to prepare to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

Other fires on the District include: the Little Green Fire near the Green Mountain Lookout; the Rattlesnake Fire in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness near Crofoot Ranch and one mile north of the Salmon River; the Blue Fire four miles southeast of Dixie (very little activity over the past few weeks); and the Noble Fire four miles west of Big Mallard Creek Trailhead. All of these fires are being monitored by air.

South of the Salmon River, the Payette National Forest continues to address a fire at Campbell’s Ferry. That fire has not crossed the river onto the District. Red River fire personnel are in constant contact with the Payette Forest.

We recognize that many people are concerned about the fires north of us near Kamiah and Nez Perce. Information for those fires and many others is available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov.

Update (11 a.m. Sunday): Clearwater County's website has current information about the fires and evacuations near Orofino, and a Type I team will take over management responsibility on Monday evening.

Update (noon Sunday): Just in from Clearwater County:

Please be advised that the road and residents of the Greer Grade are on LEVEL 3 EVACUATION. HIGHWAY 11 GREER GRADE WILL HAVE A PILOT CAR LEADING CARS BOTH UP OR DOWN THE GREER GRADE. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE ROAD WILL BE CLOSED. Lolo Creek road from the top of Greer Grade along rim is at Level 2 Evacuation. Be prepared to leave at moments notice. City of Greer is at Level 2 Evacuation.

Update (12:15 p.m. Sunday): Dworshak State Park campgrounds are available for evacuees, but power has been disrupted at Dworshak Reservoir's Dent Acres C.G. From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Dworshak Reservoir:

Because of multiple fires burning in the region near Orofino, electrical service to Dent Acres Campground has been disrupted, also affecting sewer and water availability.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir are closing the camp except for dry-camping in a large parking lot. Water and power services are also unavailable throughout the park, although the boat ramp and day-use area remain open.

Campers, visitors and residents displaced by Clearwater Basin fires are encouraged to go to Dworshak State Park, where full services are available at Freeman Creek Campground, according to Idaho State Parks and Recreation staff. For camping information at Freeman Creek Campground, contact IDPR at 208-476-3132.

“Sometimes internet mapping apps direct drivers to take a gravel road – Don’t go that way. Follow the signs and stay on the pavement,” said Mary Stanley, IDPR visitor assistant at Dworshak State Park.

Stanley recommends drivers arriving from Orofino follow the Cavendish Highway (Old Idaho 7) to Freeman Creek Road, which leads directly to the park and campground. For more information about Dworshak State Park, check out IDPR’s website https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/dworshak.

Clearwater Power crews are deployed to repair power outages, but some areas are still unreachable due to fire conditions. There is currently no estimated power-restoration time. Power outage maps are available at http://www.clearwaterpower.com.

Currently, area fires have not spread to Corps-managed lands at Dworshak. The dam, visitor center and recreation areas are operating as usual, with the exception of the Dent Acres power outage. For information and updates about fires near Dworshak, go online to Clearwater County’s website www.clearwatercounty.org.

The risk of wildfires is extremely high throughout the Pacific Northwest because of exceptionally hot weather, dry landscape and drought conditions, and forecasts for more of the same. To reduce the risk of accidental wildfires, fire restrictions are in effect at all recreation and camping areas at Dworshak and throughout Clearwater County http://firerestrictions.us/id/clearwater-area.

For the latest information about Dworshak outdoor recreation opportunities and updates about facility services, go to www.facebook.com/dworshakdam.

photo

Clearwater Complex fire perimeter map, current as of 3:18 a.m. Aug. 16.

Update (1:45 p.m. Sunday): The Clearwater Complex fires now encompass nearly 53,000 acres. From the incident management team:

The total acres for the Clearwater Complex is 52,759. This includes the Lawyer 2, Lolo, Fisher, Pilot Knob, Carrot Ridge, Woodrat, Big Hill and Four Bit Fires.

Overall the containment is 15 percent. Total personnel is 755.

The Clearwater Complex is being managed by Greg Poncin’s Type 1 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team and Rick Kusicko’s North Idaho Incident Management Team. The Teams are based in Kamiah, Kooskia and Craigmont, Idaho. These fires are results from recent lightning storms moving through the area.

Lawyer 2 Fire – Crews in the areas west of Kamiah will continue mop and patrol operations. Crews continue securing control lines and mopping up along the fire’s perimeter. This entails extinguishing or removing burning material near control lines and felling snags.

Mandatory Evacuations remain in place on the west, north and east sides of Kamiah outside of the city limits. U.S. Highway 12 is still open but may periodically have a pilot car moving traffic through the fire area north of Kamiah.

Structure protection remains a high priority.

Lolo 2 Fire – South of Weippe, and north of Woodland, firefighters will continue constructing line around the southwest, Woodland, and Harrisburg areas as well as structure protection measures.

Carrot Ridge Fire – Northeast of Pardee, active fire behavior was observed on the fire yesterday and today. With the fire moving both north and south. Firefighters are working to construct line.

Fisher Fire – In the Big Canyon area, approximately 7 miles north of Craigmont, today, crews on the north side of the fire will continue improving and trying to hold containment lines along the canyon rim. North of Six Mile Canyon, firefighters will begin direct line construction as conditions allow, trying to prevent further northward progression in Big Canyon. Structure protection measures will continue around the fire perimeter.

Evacuations will remain in place as there is still active fire on the landscape.

Syringa Fires - northeast of Syringa including the Woodrat, Big Hill, and Four Bit Fires are being evaluated but are unstaffed at this time.

Pilot Knob Fire - on the Red River Ranger District is estimated at 252 acres and is unstaffed at this time.

Update (2 p.m. Sunday): The Campbells Ferry fire is burning southeast of Dixie, but poses no risk to the community, per the management team there. From Payette National Forest's fire information office:

As you know, the fire is on the south side of the main Salmon River at this time and is burning southeast of Dixie. We do not feel that this fire will pose a threat to Dixie.

Previously:

In this case, the values at risk are the historic structures that are in the area, and firefighters are conducting burn out operations to prevent the fire from reaching the structures. Structures at risk are the Campbell's Ferry pack bridge, the historic Jim Moore structures, and private in-holdings and commercial enterprises such as the Whitewater Ranch, Allison Ranch and Yellow Pine Bar.

Update (1:45 p.m. Sunday): More from the incident management team on the Clearwater Complex firefighting effort: it has cost $4.02 million so far. In total so far, in the Lawyer Complex 30 residences and 75 outbuildings are confirmed lost, while four outbuildings are confirmed lost on the Fisher Fire.

Update (8 p.m. Sunday): From the Red River Ranger District:

This is just a quick note of reassurance to our locals who are concerned about the heavy smoke lying in the valley. That smoke is most like coming from the fires north of us at Kamiah and Nez Perce. Little of it is from our fires.

The Swale and Swale 2 Fires on the northern edge of the township are looking good.

The Table and Squirrel Fires spotted this morning near Table Meadows were hit hard with helicopter and tanker drops this morning and are staffed with an engine module this evening. The Chicken Fire was added to the mix today about 2 miles east of Table Meadows between American River and Lick Creek. That fire was worked by helitak this morning and is staffed this evening. All three are currently behaving themselves.

The Pig Foot Fire in the Newsome Creek drainage it out, and no significant growth was reported on the Baldy Fire.

Update (8:15 p.m. Sunday): The Tepee Springs Fire is now about 4,600 acres in size. From the Payette National Forest:

There were no new fires today and 12 fires we continue to manage. Tepee Springs Fire, Rapid Fire, and Campbells Fire remain priorities for suppression efforts. Over the weekend, lighter winds and cooler temperatures with no new starts has aided fire suppression efforts.

Campbells Fire is approximately 750 acres, burning in Trout Creek, Moore Creek and Ruff Creek. Crews were successful using firing operations to protect private property at the Campbells Ferry on the Salmon River. Krassel District Ranger Anthony Botello stated, “Our folks did a great job, with very limited resources and gusty and erratic winds, to keep the fire out of the private property. The fire has grown in the past two days, but the spread has been up slope and away from the Ranch and other significant values on the Salmon River. To protect the public from the unpredictable spread, we have established a closure area for this fire which includes some of the trails south of Campbells Ferry and north of Chamberlain Basin.” (A Forest Closure Order and map will be posted to Facebook soon.) Command of this fire is by a Local Fire Management Team.

The Rapid Fire is located on the McCall District and is visible from Highway 55 south of town. It is burning south of Fogg Lake in the Kennally Lake and Green Mountain area. It is currently estimated at 700 acres. A Forest Closure Order has been issued (see facebook for a copy of the Closure Order and map). This closure includes Forest Roads 388 and 391. Command of this fire will be transferred to a Regional Fire Management Team on Monday, August 16, 2015.

The Tepee Springs fire continues to burn in the Tepee Springs and Hazard Creek area around Buck Lake, west of Hazard Lake. It is approximately 4600 acres. This fire is being managed by a Regional Fire Management Team and the Incident Command Post is established west of New Meadows. A Forest Closure has been issued (see facebook for a copy of the Closure Order and map).

Status update by fire is provided below for each district.

New Meadows Ranger District:

  1. Tepee Springs: (4600 acre) Located in the area of Tepee Springs and Hazard Creek area, 20 miles south of Riggins on the east side of Highway 95, 22 miles North west of McCall and north of Goose Lake. Forest Closure Order in effect. This fire is being managed by a Regional Fire Management Team (DeMasters Type 2 Team). Additional information available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4506/

McCall Ranger District:

  1. Rapid: (700 ac) Located south of Fogg Lake, burning in the Kennally Lake and Green Mountain area. Forest Closure Order in effect. Additional information available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4522/
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Krassel Ranger District:

  1. Campbells Fire: (750 ac) Burning in Trout Creek, Moore Creek, and Ruff Creek near Campbells Ferry on the Salmon River. Forest Closure Order in effect. Firefighters continue structural protection. This fire is being managed by a Local Fire Management Team (Sawyer Type 3 Team). Additional information available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4521/
  2. Harlan: (0.1 ac) Located near the Dillinger Fire area in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Minimal fire activity. Fire is being monitored.
  3. Crescent Fire: (This fire was previously listed as Vines Fire) (10 ac) Located 6 miles east/northeast of Cabin Creek Guard Station in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Fire is being monitored.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Dillinger: (.25 acre) Located 3 miles east of Dillinger Meadows in the Frank Church of No Return Wilderness. Minimal fire activity. Fire is being monitored.
  7. Cly: (.10 acre) Located on the south side of Lick Creek road at the summit. Fire is contained.
  8. Missouri Ridge: (1.25 ac) Located 5 miles east of Yellow Pine in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Fire is out. This is the last time this fire will appear in the Fire Info Update.

To find out about other fires not listed here go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov or http://idahofireinfo.blogspot.com.

Update (10 p.m. Sunday): Here's the latest from Clearwater Complex incident command:

Size: 43,240 total acres Date Started: 08/13/2015 Percent Containment: 15%

Personnel Assigned: 741 personnel Equipment: 40 engines, 15 dozers, 23 water tenders Cause: Lightning Aircraft Assigned: 4 helicopters

Cooperating Agencies: US Forest Service; Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Association; Lewis and Idaho counties; Nez Perce Tribe; City of Kamiah, Idaho DOT, Idaho Highway Patrol, nine Rural Fire Departments

Structures Lost: Lawyer’s Complex: 42 residences, 75 outbuildings

Fisher Fire: 4 outbuildings

Incident Commander Greg Poncin announced today that Incident Commander Bob Fry and his team have been reassigned to the “Not Creative Fire” at Cataldo, Idaho west of Couer d ‘alene, Idaho due to the complexities of the multiple fires throughout the West. According to Poncin, “It is not unusual when there is the magnitude of fire activity that we are now experiencing, that nationally resources are reassigned to most effectively and efficiently fight fire. All resources assigned to Fry’s team will be moved to the Incident Command Post in Kooskia at the Clearwater Valley High School. My team and I and our resources will still be here fighting this fire. Our priority is firefighter and public safety and structure protection. We are committed to those priorities”. We will have an information center at the Idaho Department of Lands in Kamiah by Tuesday. For now our information phone number is the same 406-309-0371. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working on getting local phone numbers.

Lawyer 2 Fire – Kamiah, Idaho

Fire activity was moderate today due to the cooler temperatures and low winds, leaving fuels somewhat shaded throughout the day. Smoldering stump holes and unburned pockets of green islands within the fire perimeter exhibited activity this afternoon. Mop and patrol operations continued along the fire’s perimeter.

U.S. Highway 12 is open. Structure protection remains a high priority.

Lolo 2 Fire – South of Weippe, Idaho and north of Woodland, Idaho

Air operations assisted firefighters in the southern area of the fire with bucket drops as needed. Structure protection and hand-line construction continued in the east and southeast areas of the fire.

Carrot Ridge Fire – Northeast of Pardee, Idaho

Active fire behavior continues in the south, southeast areas of the fire. Firefighters work to construct and hold both direct and indirect lines.

U.S. Hwy 11 from the junction of Hwy 11 & Hwy 12 to Hwy 11 mile post 9 is closed. Officials are working diligently for a limited opening of the road using pilot cars in the near future.

Fisher Fire – Big Canyon area, approximately 7 miles north of Craigmont, Idaho.

Crews on the north and south sides of the fire worked to improve and hold containment lines. Structure protection measures will continue around the fire perimeter.

Syringa Fires – Northeast of Syringa, Idaho

This includes the Woodrat, Motorway (formerly Big Hill), and Four Bit Fires. These fires continue to be evaluated but are unstaffed at this time.

Additional Info: For fire information and updates please check http://inciweb.nwcg.gov or call (406)309-0371

For evacuation information in Idaho County please contact the Idaho County Sheriff’s Department (208) 983-1100.

Update (10 p.m. Sunday): Some evacuation notices in Lewis and Idaho counties in the Kamiah area are being cancelled. Clearwater Complex incident command and the Idaho and Lewis county sheriffs have issued a joint statement:

Lewis and Idaho County Sheriff Offices are canceling the prior Stage 3 and Stage 2 evacuation notices for the following areas:

• City limits of Kamiah including the Pine Ridge Subdivision.

• Residents east and west of and serviced by Highway 64 from milepost 30 to the end of the pavement at the viewpoint.

• A three mile corridor located immediately west of Highway 162 for areas north of Thorn Springs Road and south of Lawyer Creek Road, this will include Lawyer Creek Road from Highway 162 to the Flying B Ranch.

• The half mile wide corridor located immediately east of Highway 162 for areas north of Thorn Springs Road and Lawyer Creek Road.

• Highway 64 and 162 are now open to all traffic.

Highway 12 from milepost 61 to the County line at milepost 49.8 will continue to be at a Stage 2 evacuation notice. For resident in this area, you should prepare now by packing necessary items and preparing your family, pets and vehicle for departure upon Stage 3 evacuation notification.

• Now is the time to move persons with mobility and medical issues.

• Remember to pack important papers and medications.

• Red Cross has set up a shelter at Kooskia Elementary School located at 306 Pine Avenue in Kooskia. Please check in with them and let them know where you will be in case your family is looking for you.

• You are welcome to use your common sense to evacuate at any time you feel uncomfortable.

• You may not receive in person contact.

August 16, 2015, 9:30 p.m.

Sherriff Brokop, Lewis County

Sherriff Giddings, Idaho County

Incident Commander, Greg Poncin

(This story has been updated. Further updates can be found here.)



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