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Syringa still under threat of wildfire

A column of smoke erupts from the Baldy Fire, near Pilot Knob, as seen from the Grangeville area Aug. 20.

Photo by Sarah Klement
A column of smoke erupts from the Baldy Fire, near Pilot Knob, as seen from the Grangeville area Aug. 20.

While the Municipal Complex fires near Orofino, Greer and Reubens are said to be 85 percent contained, and while Clearwater Complex command has made definite progress against the fires in the Kamiah area, Motorway Complex command reported 28 of the 29 blazes in its charge remain uncontained at last check and Selway Complex command was still setting up its shop in Elk City.

The only one of the Motorway Complex fires listed as partly contained — the Woodrat Fire — threatened Syringa during Friday’s Red Flag wind warning and continues to threaten the community from the north and west, where lines “need further improvements to be considered secure containment line.” For now, Woodrat is listed at two percent contained and 3,800 acres in size. The Slide Fire burning north of the Selway River has grown to 8,000 acres and put Lowell-area residents on alert, but as of Monday morning, that fire’s western edge remained two miles upstream of the historic Fenn Ranger Station.

The Powell-area Jay Point lookout burned last Thursday, Aug. 20, the 800-acre fire’s most recent day of growth. Powell-area campgrounds are closed and the community is on alert.

Across the Selway River from the Slide Fire, the Wash Fire has advanced mostly in the Meadow Creek drainage since Saturday. Monday’s work focused on finding opportunities to keep the Wash Fire from advancing toward Elk City.

Selway Complex command took charge of two Elk City area fires last Sunday, Aug. 23, and has announced seven crews are building fire lines directly on the west and south sides of the Baldy Fire, which has consumed nearly 1,400 acres near Pilot Knob. The Wash Fire is much larger — about 24,000 acres — but remained nine miles northeast of Elk City, where it is not threatening homes, the Selway Complex team noted Sunday evening. The Elk City and Newsome areas are on alert.

In Salmon River country, the Payette National Forest noted the Tepee Springs Fire south of Riggins and Pollock has grown to more than 15,000 acres and the Campbells Fire (6,000 acres) remains entirely south of the Salmon River – opposite Dixie in southern Idaho County.

Crews battling the Kamiah-area Clearwater Complex have the fires 50 percent contained at 47,000 acres “will continue mopping up and securing control lines,” command said Tuesday morning, Aug. 25. “Crews will also work on hot spots and pockets of unburned fuels near the 2013 Incendiary Fire. Areas west of Kamiah and along the Clearwater River will only need to be patrolled. Further east, on the Jay Point fire, crews will construct indirect hand line and use heavy equipment for dozer line.”

Current information about other fires in the area as well as up-to-date, official information on evacuations, area closures, fires and road work can be found online through the following websites: incident management at:; Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests fire information at; Idaho Fire Information at; Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s fire information center for hunters and anglers at https://fishandgame.; and the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page,

Reporting by the Idaho County Free Press can be found at or


Syringa and Smith Creek Road remain under Level 3 evacuation orders. Level 2 evacuation warnings are in place for Suttler Creek Road and along Highway 12 from Suttler Creek Road to the western boundary of Lowell. For the Slide Fire, Level 2 evacuation warnings are in effect for the Selway River Road, from the eastern boundary of Lowell to O’Hara Road. Level 1 alerts remain in effect for Lowell, as well as for the Highway 12 corridor east of Lowell up to Pete King Road. Residents should remain alert, as conditions can change rapidly. Level 1 alerts are also in effect in the Powell, Elk City and Newsome areas.


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