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Recent Thunderstorms Start Multiple Fires on Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

KAMIAHMonsoonal moisture made a dramatic appearance across North-central Idaho last week. This sudden injection of upper-level moisture into our already warm airmass created the perfect recipe for spawning thunderstorms across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and surrounding areas. 

Damage from high winds and hail was reported in many local communities and lightning from these storms left many small wildfires in their wake. Fortunately, most areas hit with lighting also received precipitation. This helped to keep the lightning caused fires from getting too big too quickly, giving local firefighters a chance to safely engage in initial attack opportunities. So far, suppression efforts have been successful on all staffed fires.

Several fires on Nez Perce-Clearwater NF are in rugged, remote locations making some staffing options difficult. Fire Managers and Forest Service leadership attempt to choose the best strategies for each individual fire based on firefighter/public safety, values at risk, wilderness direction, and available resources.

The weather forecast for this coming week shows temperatures possibly reaching the triple digits around the lower elevations by Wednesday or Thursday, with more upper-level monsoonal moisture bringing another chance of showers and thunderstorms by Friday.

Current Fires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater NF as of reporting time:

Full Suppression Strategy Defined:This strategy implies that a fire will be “put out” as efficiently and effectively as possible while providing for both firefighter and public safety.

Point Protection Strategy Defined: A wildfire response strategy which protects specific assets or highly valued resources from the wildfire and may also utilize features such as past wildfires or prescribed fires, roads, rivers, etc. to ultimately prevent the fire from impacting more distant values.

North Fork Ranger District:

Fires with a Full Suppression Strategy

The Tepee Fire at .25 acres, the Eagle Creek Fire at .10 acres, the Hemlock Fire at .10 acres, and the Flat Mountain Fire at .25 acres are all staffed with local firefighters and under a full suppression strategy. Fire Fighters on the ground are reporting good progress being made and expect these fires to be called out within the next few days.

Fires with a Point Protection Strategy

The Lower Twin Fire is located about 20 miles Northeast of Headquarters, ID in brush and timber. This fire is approximately 2 acres in size and sits within a mile of FS Trail #268. There are currently no closures in place for this fire.

The Wallow Fire is located about 25 Northeast of Headquarters, ID. This fire is approximately 1.5 acres in size and burning in brush and timber. This fire is within .15 miles from FS Trail #101 which leads to Wallow Mtn. There are currently no closures in place for this fire, but fire managers anticipate that could change with the given weather forecast and potential for fire growth.

The Bruin Hill Fire is located about 20 miles Northwest of Powell, ID within about 3.5 miles of the Idaho/Montana border. This fire is in close proximity to previous wildfire-burn areas. Activity has been minimal only showing light smoke yesterday. There are no closures associated with this fire.

Lochsa-Powell Ranger District

Fires with a Full Suppression Strategy

There was a total of 5 fires under a full suppression strategy on the Lochsa-Powell Ranger District. The WaldeCanyonCabin CreekMex Mountain, and Trapper Gulch fires all received significant precipitation and were suppressed at less than .10 acres. Fire Managers expect the last of these fires to declared out today or tomorrow.

Fires with a Point Protection Strategy

The Van Camp Fire is located about 15 miles Northeast of Syringa, ID. This fire is less than .10 acre and has shown minimal activity since detection. 

The Fire Creek Fire is located within the Coolwater Rx prescribed fire project boundary. This fire is currently estimated at .50 acres and has shown minimal activity.

Fire Managers do not expect any impacts or closures to roads/trails/access in the near future, but assessments will continue as needed for these two fires.

Red River Ranger District

Three total fires have been detected and fully suppressed since last Thursday. The LarchLimber Luke, and Simmons Ridge fires have all been declared out.

Every fire receives a strategic, risk-based response that is commensurate with the threats and opportunities, and uses the full spectrum of management actions, that consider fire and fuel conditions,

weather, values at risk, and resources available and that is in alignment with the applicable Land and Resource Management Plan.

Wilderness policy:  The objectives of fire management in wilderness are to permit lightning caused fires to play, as nearly as possible, their natural ecological role within wilderness, and, to reduce to an acceptable level the risks and consequences of wildfire within wilderness or escaping from wilderness.

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests fire information is available online at https://bit.ly/NPCFireInfo, on social media at www.facebook.com/NPClwNFs and www.twitter.com/NPClwNFs, on the forest’s official mobile app (search “Nez Perce Clearwater” in your app store), or by calling your local ranger station. Report all wildfires to the Grangeville Interagency Dispatch Center (208-983-6800) or call 911.