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SUNDAY: Kamiah-area firefighting shifts from strengthening lines to mopping up

More than 200 people, mostly loggers from north central Idaho, stepped up and showed their willingness to support firefighting efforts by participating in basic fire line training on Tuesday in Orofino.

Contributed photo / Idaho Department of Lands
More than 200 people, mostly loggers from north central Idaho, stepped up and showed their willingness to support firefighting efforts by participating in basic fire line training on Tuesday in Orofino.



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

"Today is the start of a gradual warming and drying trend, with highs forecast in the upper 80s and low 90s," Clearwater Complex command noted in its Aug. 23 morning release. Relative humidity is expected to be between 13 to 18 percent. Smoke will linger in the valleys until the inversion layer lifts in the early afternoon.

Yesterday, fire crews secured Kamiah-area fire line from the intersection of Harrisburg and Caribel roads north to Lolo Creek and east along the Caribel Road to the intersection with Adams Grade. In the Hidden Valley area, control lines were fortified toward a standard depth of 100 feet. Crews improved fire lines from Kidder Road to Church Canyon and improved structure protection in the Shenandoah Subdivision and began mop-up. They also continued constructing control lines from Shenandoah Subdivision to Caribel Road and improved the fire line from Kidder Road to Church Canyon. Firefighters strengthened the line following yesterday’s active fire behavior in the Texas Creek/Schmidt Creek area and between the 2013 Incendiary Fire site and Three Mile Road. Thick smoke from area fires prohibited air operations.

Today, crews will take advantage of favorable weather and subdued fire activity to continue reinforcing fire lines south of Lolo Creek in the Woodland area and conduct structure protection as needed. A small firing operation is planned for the site of the 2013 Incendiary Fire if conditions allow. Crews also plan to improve fire lines in the Texas Creek and Schmidt Creek areas. Across the rest of the Clearwater Complex, work will transition from line construction and line improvement to mop up and patrol to secure lines.

“We got a lot of line established and tied together yesterday,” Clearwater Complex Operations Chief Mark Goeller said. “The basic theme today is search and destroy to minimize a chance of the fire breaking out when the weather changes.”

An information center is operational at the Idaho Department of Lands in Kamiah. For fire information and updates, visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov or call (406) 309-0371 or (208) 507-2621.

Clearwater Complex facts at a glance:

Size: 45,243 total acres

Date Started: Aug. 10.

Cause: Lightning.

Percent Containment: 40 percent.

Personnel Assigned: 758.

Equipment: 61 engines, 13 dozers, 18 water tenders

Aircraft Assigned: 6 helicopters.

Cooperating Agencies: Idaho Department of Lands; U.S. Forest Service; Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Association; Lewis, Clearwater, and Idaho Counties; Nez Perce Tribe; City of Kamiah; Idaho Transportation Department; Idaho State Patrol; Lewis County Sheriff’s Office; Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office; Idaho County Sheriff’s Office; and nine rural fire departments.

Update (9:30 Sunday): The Tepee Springs Fire has grown to nearly 11,000 acres, but is now listed as 20 percent contained. From the Tepee Springs Fire team:

There will be a public meeting in Pinehurst on Monday Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Pinehurst Fire Station.

The fire continues to advance to the south and east towards Bascom Canyon. Due to heavy smoke throughout the day on Saturday temperatures were a bit lower. For today it will be smokey in the morning, the inversion should lift between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Firefighters were able to make progress building line and reinforcing protection throughout the Highway 95 corridor. Firefighters are being assisted by helicopters and air tankers as conditions allow. Fire Managers are asking the public to use caution when traveling in this area due to traffic congestion and are urging the public to continue traveling past the fire and not stopping along the roadway. There may also be fire support vehicles in the area that will need efficient and safe access along Highway 95.

Closures:

The Payette National Forest in the vicinity of Tepee Springs Fire is closed to public use. Hazard Campground is closed, Grouse Campground is closed, and Last Chance Campground is closed. No public access is allowed past the junction of Brundage Reservoir and Goose Lake Road (Forest Road 257). Additionally all FS land west of Brundage Road to the Forest boundary in the Meadows Valley are closed. Last Chance Campground is included in this closure. The Bureau of Land Management has issued a closure order for Hard/Hazard Creek Road (Forest Road 287) to prevent access to the Tepee Springs fire area from the west. In addition they have issued an Area Closure.

Notifications and Evacuations:

The following areas are now in notification. (Definition of notification is as follows: Residents will be notified by the Sheriff’s office to prepare their personal items in case they are asked to evacuate).

West side of Hwy 95 North of Smokey Boulder Road to Elk Lake Road

East side of Hwy 95 South of Smokey Boulder Road to Circle C Road

East Side of Hwy 95 from Hazard Creek Road to Elk Lake Road

Evacuations are in effect for the East side of Hwy 95 from North of Smokey Boulder Road to South of Hazard Creek Road.

You can find additional information regarding the Tepee Fire at www.inciweb.nwcg.gov or visit us on our Team Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Great-Basin-IMT-7/222155447934166 or the Payette National Forest Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Forest-Service-Payette-National-Forest/667908866639038 . There are other large fires burning in our vicinity that are producing smoke affecting the central Idaho Mountains. To find out about other fires not listed here go to http://idahofireinfo.blogspot.com or http://inciweb.nwcg.gov The Fire Information Hotline 208-634-0820 is updated with new information as it becomes available. Members of the public interested in receiving fire information updates from the Payette National Forest can request them at payettefireinformation@gmail.com

Update (noon Sunday): The Motorway Complex fires are now listed at 22,500 acres with little containment. From the Motorway Complex team:

The Motorway Complex is comprised of several fires on the Lochsa-Powell, North Fork, and Moose Creek Ranger Districts including Woodrat, Big Hill, Slide, and a group of fires located near the Lolo Motorway (some of which are visible from Pierce.) The Woodrat fire has also burned onto lands managed by the Maggie Creek Protection District. Rick Kusicko’s North Idaho Incident Management Team (IMT) is managing the Motorway Complex. The Motorway Complex Incident Command Post (ICP) is established at the Kooskia airstrip. ...

Yesterday, dense smoke in the area hampered air operations supporting Motorway Complex fires, so no water or retardant drops were utilized. However, dense smoke also helped to reduce fire intensity and spread. Meteorologists are predicting high pressure and a warming/drying trend to continue in the Kooskia area for the next few days. As high pressure builds, smoke will continue to settle into the valleys.

Woodrat - The Woodrat fire is actively burning in steep, rugged terrain just north and west of the community of Syringa. Extreme fire behavior on Thursday and Friday prompted the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office to issue a Level III mandatory evacuation order for the Syringa area and a Level II notice for residents up-river east of Syringa to the western boundary of Lowell.

Crews have made good headway on the west, northwest, and southwest flanks of the fire. Dozer operators constructed line on the southwest end of the fire, as well as portions of the 07 Ridge; however, much of that line is indirect and will need further improvements to be secure containment line. Yesterday, firefighters began burnout operations above the Smith Creek Road in order to secure containment line and try to herd the fire north of Syringa. Structure protection efforts are also continuing in the area.

Today, along the southeast flank of the fire, crews will continue burnout operations north of Syringa and structure protection efforts as necessary. Along the southwest fire perimeter, crews will continue to improve indirect containment line, using a combination of dozers, engines, and burnout operations.

Slide – The Slide fire is burning in open pine and Douglas fir stands on steep south facing slopes north of the Selway River. Saturday, the Slide Fire continued to grow up-river. However, the Slide Fire also began burning down-river past a pre-determined management action point and past containment lines that had been initiated, prompting the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office to issue Level II evacuation warnings for residents west of the Slide Fire, from O’Hara Road west to the eastern boundary of Lowell. Lowell remains in Level I alert due to both Woodrat and Slide fires in the area. The fire is a potential threat to homes, private holdings, and the Historic Fenn Ranger Station to the east.

Yesterday, crews continued performing structure protection along the Selway road from CCC trail down river to and including the Historic Fenn Ranger Station.

Today, crews will continue to lay hose and prepare structures for protection along the Selway River. For now, the fire progression to the north has stalled in shrub fields and rocky conditions along the upper ridges.

Motorway – The Motorway fires are located in the area referred to as the Lolo Motorway and include Lost Hat, 535, and Musselshell Creek fires, as well as several other small or remote, backcountry fires. Some of these fires are impacting local grazing allotments and if affected by strong easterly winds, could have the potential to affect the community of Pierce. Currently, crews continue to open roads to access the fire perimeter and construct line. On the Musselshell Creek fire, an anchor point has been established along the 535 road, and crews are working to tie fire perimeter into that anchor point. Structures currently threatened by the Motorway fires are Forest Service facilities and infrastructure. Structure protection assessments and actions are currently underway in those areas.

Evacuations: Level III evacuations remain in place for Syringa, Smith Creek road, and Level II evacuation warnings remain in place Suttler Creek road, as well as along Highway 12, from Suttler Creek Road east to the western boundary of Lowell. For the Slide Fire, Level II evacuation warnings are in effect for the Selway River road, from the eastern boundary of Lowell to the O’Hara Road. Level I alerts remain in effect for Lowell, as well as the Highway 12 corridor east of Lowell up to the Pete King Road. All area residents should remain alert, as conditions can change rapidly. Full descriptions of evacuation alerts, warnings, and orders (as well as ramifications to residents) are available on the Inciweb sites for “Woodrat Fire” or “Slide Fire”.

Closures & Special Announcements: A public meeting will be held TOMORROW, Monday, August 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Ryan’s Wilderness Inn – meeting room, in Lowell. Information specific to the locally-affected communities will be provided.

Significant Forest area and Selway River closures are in effect due to wildfire activity. Closures can be located at http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices. Please check back regularly as conditions and closures change frequently.

A temporary flight restriction is in effect surrounding all the fires in the Motorway Complex.

For more info: Contact the fire information line, at 208-926-4170 or motorwaycomplex@gmail.com if you have questions concerning the complex. As always, check fire information and updates on http://inciweb.nwcg.gov. Once on the specific fire in the incident, you can choose to follow the fire updates via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets.

Motorway Complex facts at a glance

Size: Approximately 22,500 acres.

Date Started: Aug. 14.

Percent Containment: 5% - Woodrat. Other fires in the Complex are at 0% containment.

Personnel: Approximately 297 personnel that includes two, Type 1 and Type 2 Initial Attack hand crews, various support personnel.

Equipment: 32 engines, 4 water tenders, 7 Dozers

Aircraft Assigned: 1, Type 3 helicopter

Cause: Lightning

Cooperating Agencies: US Forest Service; Clearwater and Idaho counties; Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Association;

Nez Perce Tribe; Idaho State Police, Idaho Transportation Department, Idaho County Power & Light

Update (1 p.m. Sunday): Idaho Department of Environmental Quality now lists air quality in Grangeville as "very unhealthy" (275) and "hazardous" in both Cottonwood (308) and Kamiah (304).

Update (3 p.m. Sunday): The Campbells Fire is currently estimated at 3000 acres. The nearest community, Dixie, is not threatened by this fire as this fire has not crossed the Salmon River. From the Campbells Fire management team:

It is burning in Trout Creek, Moore Creek, Ruff Creek, and Fall Creek in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. Crews are providing protection for the bridge at Campbell’s Ferry as well as the Jim Moore place. Additionally, crews are in the process of setting up structure protection at Lemhi Bar. They will also be assessing and making preparations for protecting private property at China Bar and Gaines Bar. A Forest Closure Order has been issued (see Facebook or inciweb for map and Closure Order). Boat traffic on the Salmon River is unaffected by this Closure. However, we are encouraging boaters to camp up or down stream of Campbell’s Ferry. This fire is being managed a Local Type 3 Management Team.

Update (3 p.m. Sunday): The following is a summary of current closures and fire restrictions on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests:

General Forest

Stage I Fire Restrictions remain in effect for the majority of Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest lands. These provisions limit campfires or stoves to designated recreation sites, limit smoking to enclosed vehicles, and require spark arrestors on internal or external combustion engines used on national forest system lands.

Additional restrictions pertain to the Selway-Bitterroot, Frank Church-River of No Return and Gospel-Hump Wilderness areas, and non-forest system lands west of the Forest boundary. Contact your local Forest Service office for specific information.

Red River Ranger District

Baldy Fire Area Closure

To ensure public safety, an area closure has been enacted for an area surrounding the Baldy Fire which is located roughly nine miles west of Elk City. The closure applies to Roads 284, 649, and 1866; and Trails 425, 477, and 424 within the closure area.

Red River Complex Trail Closures

Segments of the following trails are closed for public safety due to fire activity:

Trails 583, 502, 501, 576, 577, and 501

Moose Creek Ranger District

Area Closure

Due to fire activity, a large area closure has been enacted on the Moose Creek and Red River Districts. It includes national forest system lands south of Coolwater Road 317 including the Selway Corridor from Lowell east to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness boundary. The Wilderness boundary forms most of the closure’s eastern and southern borders.

Road Closures

The following roads and trails have been closed for public safety due to fire activity:

Selway Road 223 from O’Hara Bridge to the junction of Falls Point Road 443.

Trail Closures

Trails: Rackliff 702, East Boyd 703, Glover 704, West Glover 705, 23 Mile 707, Gedney 708, Gedney-Glover 709, West Boyd 710, Canteen 725, and CCC 734 in their entireties. Additionally, segments of Selway Trail 4, and Trails 405, 421, 432, 444, 447, 455, 458, 491, 516, 606, 607, and 693 are closed.

Campground Closures

Due to an area closure, the following campgrounds are closed: Boyd, CCC, Glover, Johnson Bar, O’Hara, Race Creek, Rackliff, Selway Falls, Slide Creek, Slims Camp, Twenty-five Mile Bar, Twenty-mile Bar

Lochsa-Powell Ranger Districts

Area Closure

An area closure has been enacted north of Highway 12 from the Forest boundary east to Wilderness Gateway Campground.

NEW TODAY – Due to fire activity associated with the Jay Point Fire, an area closure has been enacted near Powell. In approximate terms, it encompasses an area south of U.S. Highway 12 from the Warm Springs pack bridge east to the White Sand Campground. The Selway Bitterroot Wilderness serves as the southernmost boundary. Access to Tom Beal Park and Walton Lakes is restricted.

Road Closures

The Lolo Trail Road 500 is closed from the junction of Weitas Butte Road 557 to the junction of the Liz Butte Road 560.

Trail Closures

The following trails have been closed for public safety due to fire activity:

Rock Creek 221, Greenside Butte 222, Army Mule 60, Saturday Ridge 89, Saturday Creek 82, Pouliot 30, Wind Lakes 24, Tom Beal Creek 7, Friday Pass 45, and Pedro Ridge 917 in their entirety. Segments of Lochsa Peak 220, Boulder Creek 211, Lone Knob 198 ,and Nee-Me-Poo 40 Trails are closed. Warm Springs Trail 49 is closed from the junction with Wind Lakes Trail 24 to Saturday Ridge Trail 89.

Campground Closures

Wilderness Gateway, Whitehouse, Wendover, Powell, and White Sands Campgrounds are closed.

Palouse Ranger District

Campground Closures

As a precautionary measure, the Giant White Pine and Laird Park Campgrounds are closed due to their proximity to the Big Lost Fire. The closure will be re-evaluated Monday.

North Fork Ranger District

Road Closures

Due to fire activity, segments of the following roads are closed: Skull Creek Road 252 and South Skull Creek Road 710.

Trail Closures

A segment of Snow Creek Trail 285 has also been closed to ensure public safety.

Restrictions and closures are constantly changing. Additional information and new restrictions will be posted at http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices under "Public Notices."

The most recent map of restrictions and closures can be accessed at http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3851542.pdf.



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