Investigation into Kooskia fire cause

Clear Creek Fire contained at 457 acres

IDL inquiry this week on human-caused fires

KAMIAH — Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) investigators are in Kamiah this week to follow up on human-caused fires that were started in the midst of the Clearwater Complex last summer.

Maggie Creek Area Manager Zoanne Anderson asks, “If anyone has information that may be helpful or relevant they are encouraged to call 334-0286.”

— The Clear Creek Fire, which sprung up last Thursday afternoon, remains under investigation as to its cause and under patrol and mop-up on account of there still being a few hot spots in the 457-acre burned area between Leitch Creek and Clear Creek.

Nick Carter, Idaho Department of Lands Maggie Creek fire warden, said one crew and two engines remain on station with a total of about 30 personnel.

The fire started shortly before 2 p.m. July 28 and “a good air show” followed, Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt said last Friday, July 29.

Though structures including about a dozen homes were threatened on Thursday, no structures were lost, as the “fire didn’t end up being a hazard for any of them,” IDL fire information officer Sheldon Keafer told the Free Press last Friday. Firefighters “managed to keep it on the other side of the road from where the structures were and structures that were on the same side of the road as the fire, they had the fire stopped short of them.”

No injuries were reported apart from some cases of “minor heat exhaustion,” Carter said. Firefighters worked through temperatures of about 100 degrees.

By 6 p.m. Thursday, it had grown to 200 acres. With containment lines around most of the fire area in need of strengthening, an incident management team took charge Friday morning. They reported it fully contained on Saturday evening.

The fire, officially known as the Clear Creek 2 Fire, was the first significant wildfire of the 2016 season, across all IDL fire districts and timber protective associations, IDL spokeswoman Emily Callihan said. “IDL and the TPAs have suppressed 79 fires so far this year, and all of them have been suppressed before reaching a few acres in size.”

Investigators last week ruled out lightning as a possible cause, and Carter asked that anyone with information about how it started contact the Maggie Creek office at 935-2141.

The Idaho Department of Environmental quality put out an air quality advisory on Monday, Aug. 1, due to smoke from other fires. IDL noted that only one fire is actively burning in the Grangeville Dispatch Zone – the Cedar Fire, in Lochsa River wilderness.

Other fires that may be contributing to smoke in the area are burning in Washington on the Touchet River and in Odessa. In Oregon, there was a fire burning near Pendleton. There also is a fire in Montana near Hamilton.

“The smoke we are experiencing right now may not be coming from fires in our area, but it is a reminder to be careful not to accidentally start a wildfire when you are working or playing in the outdoors,” IDL Maggie Creek Supervisory Area Manager Zoanne Anderson said. “We are nearing the peak of fire season, and we also need the public’s help staying vigilant and reporting wildfires to 9-1-1 as soon as possible.”

On Sunday, July 31, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests advised fire dangers reached the “very high” to “extreme” levels for the first time in 2016.

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