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Region goes under fire watch due to forecasted winds

Statewide air quality advisory extended into Friday

Andy's Hump Fire, pictured Sept. 6

Andy's Hump Fire, pictured Sept. 6

Weather conditions forecasted for North Central Idaho and western Montana have the region under a fire watch that was issued earlier today (Thursday, Sept. 7) by the National Weather Service (NWS) Missoula office.

According to the alert, strong westerly winds are expected to begin early Saturday afternoon, Sept. 9, and continue to create widespread critical fire weather conditions through late that evening. According to NWS, while humidity is not expected to fall to critical levels, winds could be strong enough to supersede humidity.

Winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph are likely, with ridgetops possibly experiencing gusts more than 40 mph.

Meanwhile, state air quality continues to be impacted by western wildfires, prompting the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to extend its advisory into Friday, Sept. 8.

“Air quality remains in the moderate to very unhealthy categories throughout most of the state. Expect statewide impacts to continue through Thursday,” said DEQ’s air quality meterologist Jacob Wolf. “Friday offers a possibility of relief to the southern Idaho airsheds as the upper level winds shift to the southwest while high concentrations are expected to persist in north Idaho.”

Under this advisory, all open burning is prohibited, including campfires, recreational fires, weed control burning, and residential burning.

Daily updates on air quality conditions at various locations in Idaho are available on DEQ's Air Quality Reports and Forecasts and Current Wildfire Smoke Information webpages. For areas where air quality monitors are not available, the Visibility Range and AQI Table can help determine the necessary precautions to take.

For information on the health effects of exposure to wildfire smoke, visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's website.

Forest Service update on regional fires:

The Andy's Hump Fire started burning Aug. 30 on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests' Moose Creek and Lochsa/Powell Ranger districts, roughly five miles east of Lowell on the north and south sides of Coolwater Ridge.

The fire made a mile-run Tuesday, Sept. 5, doubling in size to 1,056 acres. The fire spread slowed on Wednesday with just 200 acres, bringing the total to 1,256 acres. It is spreading to the northwest and "backing" down toward private residences in the Lowell area. Fire managers are focusing efforts on building a fuel break to protect residences, and will be working with residents to make properties more defensible.

A public meeting will be held Friday, Sept. 8, 6 p.m. at the Fenn Ranger Station Visitor Center.

Highline Fire and the Goat Fire are burning on the Payette National Forest, 25 miles northeast of Warren. The Highline fire started by lightning on July 28 and is currently 70,938 acres burning in timber with a growth of almost 3,000 acres. The Goat Fire is 480 acres.

The Highline Fire burned actively with extreme fire behavior yesterday evening (Wednesday, Sept. 6). Trail and area closures are in effect. The Payette National Forest has selected a monitor/point protection fire management strategy as the fire is burning within the wilderness, started naturally by lightning and burning in the right place, at the right time, with the right resources. Suppression actions will be taken where lightning-caused fires pose serious threats to life and/or property within wilderness or to life, property or natural resources outside of wilderness. Monitoring and point protection will continue to be the course of action and point protection will be implemented for values at risk should they become threatened. Thunderstorms are possible accompanied by erratic winds.


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