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THURSDAY: Fires have consumed 65,000 acres on USFS land so far

Current Tepee Springs Fire area and river closures, Aug. 27.


Current Tepee Springs Fire area and river closures, Aug. 27.



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

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have detected 282 fires, of which roughly two-thirds have popped up since the Aug. 10 lightning storm. More than 65,000 acres have been burned so far this fire season.

From the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests:

Numerous fires continue to burn across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, many of which are being grouped together and managed as complexes. Suppression action is being taken on priority fires as firefighting resources become available.

During the fire season of 2015, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have detected 282 fires, 180 of them since an August 10 lightning storm. To date they have burned across more than 65,000 acres of land administered by the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. It is likely more fires will be detected when the thick smoke inversion lifts later this week.

The following is a summary of the major complexes and fires burning across the Nez Perce National Forests which are not assigned to incident management teams.

North Zone (Palouse and North Fork Ranger Districts)

Name: Larkin Complex Location: Roughly 30 airline miles NE of Pierce

Started: August 17, 2015 Cause: Lightning

Total Acreage: 3000+ acres Containment: 0% Contained

Fires originally within the Complex (include Wolf Pack Fires): 14

Active Fires within the Complex: Snow Creek Fire 1500 acres, Wolf Pack Fire 770 acres, and Heather Fire 600 acres.

Major Events: Little change reported from Tuesday.

Name: Scurvy Mountain Fire Location: 28 miles ENE of Pierce, Idaho

Started: August 21, 2015 Cause: Lightning

Total Acreage: 90 acres Containment: 0% contained

Major Events: Fire is advancing toward the Scurvy Mountain Lookout which has been wrapped.

Central Zone (Lochsa-Powell and Moose Creek Ranger Districts)

Name: Lochsa South Complex

Location: South of Lochsa River from Warm Springs Creek to the Selway River

Started: August 15, 2015 Cause: Lightning

Total Acreage: 1000+ acres Containment: 0% Contained

Fires originally within Lochsa South Complex: 12

Active Fires within the Complex: Sponge Fire 1500 acres, Grit Fire 500 acres, Lone Knob Fire 200 acres, Fire Lake 500 acres, Airstrip Fire 50 acres.

Major Events: The Lone Knob Fire is approximately one mile from the Wilderness Gateway Campground and outfitter area. Fire personnel are monitoring fires and protecting the campground and other structures.

Name: Wilderness Complex

Location: Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (much of the Moose Creek Ranger District)

Started: August 4, 2015 Cause: Lightning

Total Acreage: 8500 acres Containment: 0% Contained

Fires originally within the Wilderness Complex: 8

Active Fires within the Complex: Army Mule Fire 2000 acres, Sponge Fire 1500 acres, Baily Fire 1100 acres, and Meeker Fire 1000 acres.

Name: Boulder Fire Location: 5 miles west of Lolo Pass

Started: August 14, 2015 Cause: Lightning

Total Acreage: 1600 acres Containment: 0% contained

Major Events: Fire managers have been monitoring the Boulder Fire since it was detected August 15. On Monday of this week it was estimated to be 500 acres. The fire became active yesterday afternoon, and has now been mapped at 1600 acres. A local incident commander and team is monitoring and sizing up this fire. As a public safety precaution, Crooked Fork Contour Road 595 has been closed from Granite Pass to the end of the road

The Jay Point Fire near Powell is now being managed by the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team.

South Zone (Salmon River and Red River Ranger Districts)

Name: Red River Complex

Location: South of Elk City, Idaho

Started: August 17, 2015 Cause: Lightning

Total Acreage: 3600 acres Containment: 5% Contained

Fires originally within Red River Complex: 6 fires

Active fires within the complex: Lone Park Fire 100 acres, Rattlesnake Fire 1250 acres, Crown Fire 1500 acres, Little Green Fire 300 acres.

Major Events: A local incident commander is managing the Red River Complex. Structure protection continues at Crowfoot Ranch Whitewater Ranch, and Little Green Mountain Lookout.

Many roads and trails have been closed due to fire activity. These closures and fire information is posted at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/nezperceclearwater/home. Click on the “Fire Information” icon at the top of the page.

Update (12:30 p.m. Thursday): The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cottonwood Field Office has issued a temporary emergency closure for a portion of the Lower Salmon River in order to ensure public safety from an active wildfire threatening the area. From the BLM:

Effective immediately, the Lower Salmon River is closed to all recreational activities along the Salmon River Road from French Creek to the mouth of the Little Salmon River in Riggins, Idaho (17.78 miles) for the safety of the public and to allow for fire suppression activities associated with the Tepee Springs Fire.

The fire started on August 12 about 20 miles south of Riggins, Idaho and 20 miles northwest of McCall, Idaho. Limited resources, coupled with low humidity and winds, have rapidly pushed the fire north toward the Lower Salmon River. The fire is expected to reach the river today. The fire grew to over 25,000 acres Wednesday evening.

The Idaho County Sheriff’s department will be monitoring the river at French Creek to help prevent rafters from continuing down the river. Recreationists will be directed onto forest road 246 back to McCall, Idaho. No traffic will be allowed to continue toward Riggins, Idaho. An evacuation notice for the Salmon River Road, from French Creek to Riggins, went into effect on Wednesday, August 26.

"Limiting access and recreational opportunities for the public is a difficult decision for the BLM and one that is not made lightly," said Will Runnoe, manager of BLM's Cottonwood Field Office. "In this situation, the extreme fire behavior being displayed by the Tepee Springs Fire poses an exceptional threat to the public so we have got to take these precautions. As soon as the threat of the fire lifts, the temporary emergency closure will be rescinded."

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Baldy Fire perimeter, Aug. 27.

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Wash Fire perimeter, Aug. 27.

Update (2:30 p.m. Thursday): The Wash and Baldy fires were mapped by infrared flyover last night. The Wash Fire exceeds 28,000 acres, and the Baldy Fire exceeds 2,200. From the Selway Complex IMT:

The Baldy and Wash fires in the Selway Complex were caused by lightning strikes on August 10th and 13th in the Red River Ranger District of the Nez Perce National Forest near Elk City, Idaho. With dry conditions, gusty winds, steep terrain and a shortage of firefighting resources due to multiple fire starts and existing fires, the fires quickly grew. The Baldy Fire threatened homes in the Newsome area of Elk City and the northern edge of the Wash Fire imminently threatened historic Meadow Creek cabins. The Wash Fire is about nine miles northeast of Elk City.

The area is in a prolonged drought, which is expected to continue. Fires are expected to be active until a significant, season-ending weather event occurs, which may not occur until mid/late October.

Yesterday: Baldy Fire: Firefighters continued to construct indirect fireline along the 424 Road and other existing roads around the Baldy Fire. Structures in the Golden, Corral Hill and Iron Mountain Communication site areas were assessed for protection.

Wash Fire: Dozers worked on containment lines on Horse Ridge and along the Anderson Butte National Recreation Trail. Due to the smoke, helicopters were not able to fly and drop in materials to wrap the historic Meadow Creek cabins and a lookout.

Planned activity: Baldy Fire: The slopovers on the Northwest and Southwest sides are causing firefighters to continue to construct indirect fireline along roads 284, 464, 1858 and existing trails around the Baldy Fire. Structure assessment is planned for the Leggett Placer Mine and Mud Springs areas.

Wash Fire: Firefighters will continue opening old fire contingency lines from the previous Slim’s Fire on Green and Horse ridges. The installation of hose lays will continue and along the Anderson Butte Trail.

A Level I Evacuation Alert has been issued for the Elk City area, including Newsome, due to potential high winds and the potential for growth on both the Baldy and Wash Fires. A Level I alert means wildfire is a threat and it would be wise to consider planning and/or packing in the event an evacuation becomes necessary.

Hot and dry weather will continue through the end of the week. A slight thunderstorm potential begins today, with winds of up to 35 mph are forecast. A cold front will bring shifting winds to the fire Saturday and Sunday.

Several areas are closed due to the Baldy, Wash and other fires in the area. Visit the Nez-Perce-Clearwater National Forest web site for more information.

Update (3:30 p.m. Thursday): From the Northern Rockies Coordinating Group:

As the fire season churns on throughout the West, a common theme emerges with all reports from the field: the fuels in the forests and rangelands are tinder dry and ready to burn. “We’re seeing vegetation readily responding to ignitions and fires which are highly resistant to control,” said Bob Gilman, Operations Specialist for the Northern Rockies Coordinating Group. “There are currently 24 large fires and multi-fire complexes burning in Montana and Idaho and more than three dozen smaller blazes. The last thing firefighters need is another wildfire – from lightning or humans.”

The conditions bring increased concern about the risk of human-caused fires, with many people planning to head to their favorite forest, campsite or into the backcountry between now and through Labor Day weekend. Early hunting seasons are beginning and hunters are heading to the woods and will likely be counting on small campfires to warm the chill of early mornings.

There are two questions hunters and recreationists need to ask when heading to their favorite outdoor places. First – is the area they’re planning to go closed due to fires? There are many areas within and adjacent to existing wildfires which are closed to public access for their safety, firefighter safety and as a result of fire suppression operations. The second question – provided the area is open for access – is to inquire about existing fire restrictions for the area. Fire restrictions will limit areas where campfires are permitted, where propane stoves can be used, even where ATV’s can travel. The restrictions are imposed with one goal in mind: to reduce human-caused fires.

“Even if there aren’t fire restrictions, everyone needs to carefully consider any activity that has the potential to start a wildfire,” said Deana Harms, Prevention Specialist working with the Northern Rockies Multi-Agency Coordinating Group. “It’s so dry out there that a hot tailpipe or a dragging chain on a towing unit can spark a fire.” Abandoned campfires remain a common cause of wildfires this summer; including illegal campfires which were ignited despite fire restrictions prohibiting them.

The Northern Rockies Geographic Area, which includes the States of Montana, North Dakota, and northern Idaho, Yellowstone National Park, and a small portion of South Dakota, reports 1,837 human-caused fires this year, compared to 1,295 lightning-caused fires. A key difference, however, is the acreage total; human-caused fire account for 86,272 acres, while lightning-caused fires have charred more than three times that amount, with 261,623 acres burned to date. Still, new human-caused fires require firefighting resources: something already stretched thin around the West.

Fire managers and firefighters are asking the public for their help in reducing human-caused fires. Information on current fire restrictions is available online at http://firerestrictions.us/. The site is updated continuously with the current fire restrictions for every area. If, after checking the restrictions website, there are still questions regarding the restrictions, contact your local fire management agency or fire department for additional information.

Update (3:30 p.m. Thursday): From the Motorway Complex:

Dense, thick smoke remained in place over the Motorway Complex Wednesday, reducing fire behavior for the fourth consecutive day and stalling all air operations. Relief from smoke conditions for the public is expected early weekend with the arrival of a series of weather systems from the Gulf of Alaska. In the meantime, smoke continues to cause unhealthy to hazardous air quality conditions.

The Motorway Complex on the Lochsa-Powell, Moose Creek and North Fork Ranger Districts contains more than 30 fires and remains a top priority in the Northern Rockies. The Complex includes the Woodrat, Slide, Big Hill fires and several fires near the Lolo Motorway.

Rick Kusicko’s North Idaho Type 2 Incident Management Team assumed command of the complex on August 20. The Incident Command Post is at the Kooskia airstrip. Greg Poncin’s Northern Rockies Incident Management Type 1 Team will be transitioning with Rick Kusicko’s team and will begin managing the Woodrat, Slide, Big Hill, and Higgins Hump fires at 6:00 a.m. Friday. Mike Wilkins’ Southern Area Blue Team will begin managing fires further north along the Lolo Motorway also on Friday at 6:00 a.m.

Woodrat Fire – The fire slopped over a dozer line along 07 Ridge, compromising containment lines. Firefighters are working to gain control and tie it back into the main body of the fire. However, while crews worked on that, a spot fire was observed about ½-mile below crews. Because of the amount of fire activity in the area, the lack of visibility due to smoke, and the potential for more undetected spot fires above Highway 12, fire managers requested that the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office issue a Level 3 evacuation order for residents on Suttler Creek Road and residents along Highway 12 East of Suttler Creek Road, up to and including Syringa. By end of shift, the ½- acre spot fire was also contained but is not yet secure.

Today, crews will continue burnout operations on the west and east sides of the fire to help secure containment lines. Firing operations will continue occur along Smith Creek Road, from Smith Creek saddle up to Pete King Creek. Firefighters will also continue to improve existing fuel breaks and dozer lines along the fire’s southern perimeter and will work on mop-up of the spot fire and slop-over.

Slide Fire – The Level 3 Evacuation Order remained in place downstream of the Slide Fire, from the O’Hara Bridge area downstream to and including the Fenn Ranger Station administrative site. Lowell and the area northeast of Lowell along Highway 12, upriver along the Lochsa River to Pete King Road remain in a Level 2 Evacuation Warning. The fire continues to spread downstream in a thermal belt, necessitating slow, methodical burnout operations and structure protection efforts as the fire advances. The fire reached the Rock Creek drainage late Wednesday, where crews worked overnight to continue directing the fire away from structures. To date, no structures have been lost, but rolling debris and falling snags will continue to be a threat even after the fire passes. Fire spread upriver continues to result from terrain-influenced winds, but upslope spread is also stalled due different fuel types (moist, high-elevation shrub fields and rocky slopes).

Motorway Fires – Mussellshell Creek and 535 have stayed within indirect containment lines but are slowly growing together. Fire spread on the Mussellshell Creek, 535, and Lost Hat fires remains limited, with little fire growth observed Wednesday. As resources become available and the Mussellshell Creek and 535 fires become secure, firefighters will engage other fires in this area.

Smoke Concerns: Air quality continues to be unhealthy. For more information on current air quality conditions, visit

http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/ and http://app.airsis.com/USFS/fleet.aspx For information about mitigating smoke

related health hazards, visit http://idsmoke.blogspot.com/p/smoke-and-health.html

Closures: Significant Forest area and Selway River closures are in effect because of wildfire activity. Closures are

listed at http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nezperceclearwater/alerts-notices. Closures can change, so check back

regularly.

Announcements: A public meeting will be held TONIGHT, August 27, at the Three Rivers Resort & Motel, 7:00

p.m. Fire managers will provide updates specific to the Slide and Woodrat fires.

Fire Information Line: 208-926-4170

Email: motorwaycomplex@gmail.com

Fire information and updates are available at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov, where you can opt to follow specific fire

updates via Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

Update (3:30 p.m. Thursday): From the Municipal Complex:

Crews on the Fisher Fire yesterday found very few smokes near the established lines. No heat was detected within 200 feet of the containment lines in Big Canyon as mop up operations continued.

Personnel assigned to the Old Greer Fire completed gridding the fire. Gridding involves thoroughly combing through areas and sifting through the ash and dirt feeling for hot spots.

The mop up operation and line improvement also continued on the Municipal Fire. The Municipal Complex initial attack crews remain ready to respond to new fires.

Current Situation: Municipal Complex: 90% Current Situation: Clearwater Complex: 65%

Municipal Fire: 1,770 acres Lawyer 2 Fire: 41,060 acres

Fisher Fire: 18,889 acres Lolo 2 Fire: 6,200 acres

Old Greer: 73 acres

As of 7:00 a.m. this morning the Southern Area Blue Team assumed management of the Clearwater Complex, which is now the Clearwater-Municipal Complex. Fire information updates will be issued under this name. Visit www.facebook.com/centralidahofires for information on Central Idaho fires or www.inciweb.org

Municipal Complex Information: 208-476-5110 Clearwater Complex Information: 406-309-0371

Smoke Concerns: Air quality continues to be unhealthy. For more information on current air quality conditions, visit http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/. For information about mitigating smoke related health hazards, visit http://idsmoke.blogspot.com/p/smoke-and-health.html.

Update (3:30 p.m. Thursday): From the Payette National Forest:

As of this morning there were no new fires reported and 7 fires we continue to manage. The Tepee Springs Fire, Rapid Fire, and Campbells Fire remain priorities for suppression efforts.

The Payette National Forest is now using GovDelivery to send out Fire Updates. If you are already on one of our mailing list you will now see emails coming from payettefireinformation@public.govdelivery.com. If you are not already on our list you can sign up to receive these update through GovDelivery.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions went into effect on the Payette National Forest on August 21, 2015. The following acts are prohibited: igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire outside a fire structure that is provided by the Forest Service within a designated area, and smoking outside an enclosed vehicle or building. Fire restrictions and maps are posted to Facebook.

After last night’s IR flight, the Campbells Fire is now reported to be 5,630 acres. It is burning in Trout Creek, Moore Creek, Ruff Creek, and Fall Creek in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The fire now includes Burnt Knob and is showing the most growth in upper Trout Creek and onto Highline Ridge. Crews are providing protection for the bridge at Campbell’s Ferry as well as the Jim Moore place, and have installed pumps and hose lay around Lemhi Bar. The Chena Hotshot crew is working on assessing and prepping China Bar, Gaines Bar and the Whitewater Ranch. Firefighters will also be setting up for structure protection at Chamberline and Stonebreaker Ranch. 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 Incident Management Team. Additional information is available at (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4521/)

Tepee Springs Fire information is available at (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4506/)

The Rapid Fire information is available at (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4522/)

Fires within the wilderness are being monitored by lookouts and aircraft.

Status update by fire is provided below for each district. Fires that are declared out from previous updates are no longer listed.

New Meadows Ranger District:

  1. Tepee Springs: (25,869 ac) 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 northwest of McCall and north of Goose Lake. Evacuations, pre-evacuation notifications, and Forest Closures are in effect. This fire is being managed by a Regional Incident Management Team (DeMasters Type 2 Team).

McCall Ranger District:

  1. Rapid: (4,854 ac) Located south of Rapid Peak and east of the Rapid Creek Drainage. Forest Closure Order in effect. This fire is being managed by a Regional Incident Management Team (Dunfords Type 2 Team).
  2. Loon Creek: (1 ac) Located south of Loon Mountain, fire is burning in light fuels with a low potential to spread. Fire is being monitored.
  3. Porphyry: (.10 ac) Located west of Porphyry Creek in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. No smoke showing at this time. Fire is being monitored.

Krassel Ranger District:

  1. Campbells Fire: (5,630 ac) Burning in Trout Creek, Moore Creek, Ruff Creek, and Fall Creek in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness near Campbell’s Ferry on the Salmon River. Forest Closure Order in effect. This fire is being managed by a Local Fire Management Team (Cline Type 3 Team).
  2. 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.
  3. Mosquito: (.25 to 0.50 ac) Located on the east side of Mosquito Ridge in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. No smoke showing at this time. Fire is being monitored.
  4. Dillinger: (3,604 ac) Located 3 miles east of Dillinger Meadows in the Frank Church of No Return Wilderness. This fire has seen significant growth in the past couple of days.

Update (3:30 p.m. Thursday): From the Clearwater Complex:

Current Situation:

Municipal Complex: 90% Containment

Municipal Fire: 1,770 acres

Fisher Fire: 18,889 acres

Old Greer: 73 acres

Clearwater Complex: 65% Containment

Lawyer 2 Fire: 41,060 acres

Lolo 2 Fire: 6,200 acres

As of 7:00 a.m. this morning the Southern Area Blue Team assumed management of the Clearwater Complex, which is now the Clearwater-Municipal Complex. Fire information updates will be issued under this name.

For information on Central Idaho fires or www.inciweb.nwcg.gov

Municipal Complex Information: 208-476-5110

Clearwater Complex Information: 406-309-0371

Crews on the Fisher Fire yesterday found very few smokes near the established lines. No heat was detected within 200 feet of the containment lines in Big Canyon as mop up operations continued.

Personnel assigned to the Old Greer Fire completed gridding the fire. Gridding involves thoroughly combing through areas and sifting through the ash and dirt feeling for hot spots.

The mop up operation and line improvement also continued on the Municipal Fire. The Municipal Complex initial attack crews remain ready to respond to new fires.

Smoke Concerns: Air quality continues to be unhealthy. For more information on current air quality conditions, visit http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/.

For information about mitigating smoke related health hazards, visit http://idsmoke.blogspot.com/p/smoke-and-health.html.



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