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Blackerby burns again, listed as 26 acres

Apart from smoke emanating from a couple of points in the middle of a burnt-out hillside above the Snag Hole, little sign of the Blackerby Fire was visible from the Mount Idaho Grade road Wednesday morning, July 18.

Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Apart from smoke emanating from a couple of points in the middle of a burnt-out hillside above the Snag Hole, little sign of the Blackerby Fire was visible from the Mount Idaho Grade road Wednesday morning, July 18.



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The Blackerby Fire was reported by a private citizen at approximately 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, July 17. Response by firefighting resources included 15 Grangeville Smokejumpers, four engines, one Type 3 Helicopter and two initial attack modules, which had limited the fire to 20 acres and brought it to 50 percent containment by mid-morning.

In 2005, fire investigators termed it "human-caused" when fire sprung into the Blackerby area, near the base of the Mt. Idaho Grade that August. The cause of a new fire in the same area remains to be determined.

At about 3:22 a.m. on a stormless morning July 17, fire sprung into the Blackerby area once again. The Forest Service was leading a firefighting effort Tuesday morning, but the fire -- the region's first major wildfire of the season -- was listed as 10 acres in size shortly after 6 a.m.

Eyewitness Christa Gardner-Walsingham on Tuesday morning told the Free Press the fire appeared to be burning on the far side of the river from the Snag Hole, a popular fishing hole near the junction of state highways 13 and 14.

UPDATE (7 a.m. Tuesday, 7/17): "Not only is this going to take days and [blank]loads of taxpayer money to put out, but my neighbor who has gone through hell this year, is in a semi panic hoping her house doesn’t burn down," Gardner-Walsingham said. "I am so tired of morons coming down here doing dumb [blank]."

Bitter history reveals just how costly it can be to fight fire in the steep terrain approximately four and three-quarter miles southeast of Grangeville as the crow flies.

UPDATE (8 a.m. Tuesday, 7/17): The fire is now listed as 20 acres in size and a smokejumper module is listed as on scene.

UPDATE (9 a.m. Tuesday, 7/17): The fire is listed as 20 acres in size and five smokejumper modules are listed as on scene.

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The Blackerby Fire was reported by a private citizen at approximately 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, July 17. Response by firefighting resources included 15 Grangeville Smokejumpers, four engines, one Type 3 Helicopter and two initial attack modules, which had limited the fire to 20 acres and brought it to 50 percent containment by mid-morning.

UPDATE (11:30 a.m. Tuesday, 7/17): The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests report the fire 50 percent contained. Their news release is as follows:

Firefighting resources from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and Idaho Department of Lands quickly responded to the Blackerby Fire, located across the South Fork of the Clearwater River at the base of the Mt. Idaho grade. The fire was reported by a private citizen to the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 3:15 am this morning.

Quick response by firefighting resources which includes 15 Grangeville Smokejumpers, four engines, one Type 3 helicopter, and two Initial Attack Modules has kept the fire to approximately 20 acres and the fire is currently 50% contained. Resources are continuing line construction and beginning mop-up activities along the fires perimeter. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Although the forest received amply amounts of spring and early summer precipitation, the recent drying trend has caused the grass, timber and other fuels across the forest to cure. The current lack of moisture and high temperatures has also prompted fire managers to raise the forests’ Fire Danger Rating in most locations to High or Very High.

Fire managers would like to remind visitors and recreationists to be extremely careful while visiting the forest. Pay attention to those items that may cause a spark, such as chains on a trailer. Ensure that all campfires are dead out by adding water and stirring dirt into hot coals until cold. If your campfire is still hot then it is too hot to leave.

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In an update shortly before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests reported the Blackerby Fire was "still estimated at 20 acres and 50% contained."

UPDATE (7:30 a.m. Wednesday, 7/18): The Blackerby Fire was still listed as 20 acres in size and 50 percent contained yesterday evening. A Forest Service update was as follows:

The fire is still estimated at 20 acres and 50% contained. Crews continued fire line construction and mop-up activities throughout the day. Firefighting resources will remain on scene through the night to monitor and patrol the fire's perimeter.

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Quick response by firefighting resources from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and Idaho Department of Lands on the morning of July 17, 2018, stopped the forward progression of the Blackerby fire.

UPDATE (noon Wednesday, 7/18): The fire size "remains at 20 acres, unchanged from yesterday, and is 80% contained," the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests said in a news release. The release is as follows:

Quick response by firefighting resources from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and Idaho Department of Lands on the morning of July 17, 2018, stopped the forward progression of the Blackerby fire. Fire size remains at 20 acres, unchanged from yesterday, and is 80% contained.

Firefighting resources from the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests continue to construct and reinforce fire line and continue mop-up activities around the fire’s perimeter. Smoke from fuels burning within the interior of the fire may be visible for the next several days.

There are no road or trail closures associated with the Blackerby fire.

Hazy and smoky conditions in the local area are due to fires currently burning to the west and not a result of the Blackerby fire.

Although the forest received amply amounts of spring and early summer precipitation, the recent drying trend has caused the grass, timber and other fuels across the forest to cure. The current lack of moisture and high temperatures has also prompted fire managers to raise the forests’ Fire Danger Rating in most locations to High or Very High.

Fire managers would like to remind visitors and recreationists to be extremely careful while visiting the forest. Pay attention to those items that may cause a spark, such as chains on a trailer. Ensure that all campfires are dead out by adding water and stirring dirt into hot coals until cold. If your campfire is still hot then it is too hot to leave.

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While Cottonwood still had a good report, air quality in the region slipped Wednesday, July 18, according to monitoring information out of Grangeville and Nezperce and beyond. Fires growing rapidly in Oregon and Washington may be contributing to the smoke, according to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

UPDATE (3 p.m. Wednesday, 7/18):

Air quality in the region is slipping, according to monitoring information out of Grangeville and Nezperce. Fires growing rapidly in Oregon and Washington may be contributing to the smoke, according to DEQ. Problem air is forecast to worsen. Here is the report from Idaho Department of Environmental Quality:

Air quality is forecast to remain in the Good/Green category for most of the state. Grangeville and Moscow are forecast to reach the Moderate/Yellow and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups/Orange categories, and the Treasure Valley is forecast to reach the Moderate/Yellow category. All monitors are currently reading in the Good category except for Garden Valley, St. Maries, and Grangeville, which are currently in the Moderate category. Moscow and Plummer (operated by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe) are both currently reading in the Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups category. There are fires burning in the vicinity of those sites that are producing enough smoke to increase the readings. Several fires have also grown rapidly across Oregon and eastern Washington.

Smoke impacts will expand today because of fires burning across Oregon and Washington. Expect impacts at the surface to be light, as most of the smoke is being transported into the region from fires burning in central California, Oregon, and Washington. Moscow and the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene corridor into Idaho should expect to see both surface smoke and smoke aloft today. Local impacts on a shorter duration should be expected in the vicinity of Garden Valley, the northern Magic Valley, and Owyhee County due to fires in those areas and the AQI forecasts are expected to remain elevated for those regions. Due to the wind direction, impacts in those communities will be strongest in the morning and after sunset. The lower Treasure Valley may see impacts tonight from fires in Oregon and the Lodgepole fire in Idaho. Looking forward, due to the high pressure system at the surface, smoke production is expected to increase over the coming days with limited horizontal movement. The Magic Valley and upper Treasure Valley should expect to see increased impacts, in addition to the areas previously mentioned beginning Thursday morning.

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A smoke plume from a crop residue burn was seen in the Grangeville area and (pictured) from Wall Creek at about 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, July 19. Information about Idaho Department of Environmental Quality daily burn decisions can be found at http://deq.idaho.gov/air-quality/burning/daily-crop-burn-decision/burn-decisions. A map of each day's approved burns can be found online at http://deq.idaho.gov/air-quality/burning/daily-crop-burn-decision/burn-requests-and-approvals.

FINAL UPDATE (4 p.m. Thursday, 7/19/2018): A smoke plume from a crop residue burn was seen in the Grangeville area and (pictured) from Wall Creek at about 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, July 19.

Information about Idaho Department of Environmental Quality daily burn decisions can be found at http://deq.idaho.gov/air-quality/burning/daily-crop-burn-decision/burn-decisions. A map of each day's approved burns can be found online at http://deq.idaho.gov/air-quality/burning/daily-crop-burn-decision/burn-requests-and-approvals.



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