Having carried out firing operations under favorable weather Sunday, Aug. 12, the Rattlesnake Creek Fire southwestern ridgetop fire lines became “more likely” to hold this week. But the fire, still listed as 42 percent contained, saw significant growth near Lockwood Point that day, and two firefighters were injured.
According to the Rattlesnake Creek Fire incident management team's Inciweb page Tuesday morning, Aug. 14, the fire had burned 5,336 acres so far—about 700 acres more than the IMT reported Monday morning. The page described "active fire behavior with single tree torching and short-range spotting."
"Sunday night’s burnout operations slowed the fire’s progression," the IMT reported Tuesday morning:
“However, a 50-acre spot occurred outside the handlines near Lockwood Point,” the team noted. “On Monday, aviation resources and firefighters worked throughout the day to contain the fire’s edge to the east of the Nez Perce Trail and out of the Rapid River drainage. Fire behavior was active and created a column visible to surrounding communities. Structure assessment began in the Elk Lake subdivision and firefighters scouted a contingency line west of Whitewater Wilderness Ranch Estates. Patrols continued on the north and east sides of the fire.”
On Tuesday, crews continued work to secure and monitor fireline along the southwest corner, building direct line where possible, and utilizing air resources to cool hot spots and moderate fire behavior. North of the fire area, construction of a contingency line began on the east side of White Bird Ridge, the team noted in its news release.
Two firefighters were injured Sunday by a burning snag; they were treated at the hospital in McCall and released, one to home and the other for additional care at a burn center in Salt Lake City, according to a midday Monday news release by the IMT.
“We recognize that wildland firefighting is a dangerous job and insure plans are in place for when accidents occur,” Incident Commander Alan Sinclair said. “I am extremely proud of the personnel who utilized those plans to extricate injured firefighters and get them to the medical care they needed.”
The IMT also noted "high potential for the fire to impact management action points, which will cause changes to 'ready, set, go' status in several communities in the next 12-24 hours," per Inciweb.
Inciweb continued to list private property and structures in the Pollock, Pinehurst, Hillman Basin and Whitewater Wilderness Ranch Estates as under threat, and “Be Set” evacuation notices continued in effect in the north Pollock, Elk Lake and Pinehurst areas.
New “Be Set” evacuation notices were issued last Friday, when Red Flag wind and extreme heat warnings accompanied by fire activity in the Lockwood Creek drainage.
“As long as favorable conditions remain, firing will continue today [Aug. 13] on the southwest edge of the fire, supported by heavy and medium helicopters as needed,” the IMT noted in a Monday morning news release. “Structure assessment will occur in the Elk Lake subdivision and firefighters will begin scouting a contingency line west of Whitewater Wilderness Ranch Estates. The north and east sides of the fire remain in patrol status.”
Officials continue to ask residents in the general vicinity to remain vigilant and monitor their county sheriff’s Facebook page for evacuation status updates.
Throughout the region, fire restrictions are in effect.
Official information about the Rattlesnake Creek Fire is online at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5999/.
Lewiston-area fire knocks out Inland Celluar service
A separate Lewiston-area fire broke out Aug. 10; it destroyed two buildings and 25 acres of standing wheat, and knocked out the mobile phone service provided by Inland Cellular, before it was listed as 100 percent contained Monday morning. The cause of that fire, known as the Mile Marker 319 Fire due to its location near U.S. Highway 95 at the top of Lewiston Hill, is also under investigation.
In a Monday morning statement, Inland announced repair efforts that depend on equipment being flown in from elsewhere.
“We understand the severity of this situation and we are exhausting all resources to solve this problem as quickly as possible,” Inland’s statement, issued via Facebook, read in part. The service outage continued Tuesday, Aug. 14.
The Goose Rapids Fire, which broke out Aug. 9 near the Snake River 21 miles south of Lewiston, was reported 100 percent contained at 1,158 acres, the IMT in charge said in an Aug. 13 press release. The cause of that fire remains under investigation.