Fire Update 9/20/2017

Note: This will probably be the last fire update for this season.

VanMeter morning of Sept 20

Local Conditions: In the last 48 hours Yellow Pine has received 1.22″ of rain and a trace of snow, highs in the 40’s and lows just above freezing. Snow in the higher elevations above 6000 feet.

Yellow Pine Forecast

Today Showers, with thunderstorms also possible after noon. High near 46. Southwest wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Tonight Rain showers likely before midnight, then a chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. South southwest wind 3 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday A chance of rain and snow showers before noon, then a chance of rain showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday Night A 40 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a low around 29. North wind 3 to 6 mph.
Friday A chance of rain and snow showers before noon, then a chance of rain showers. Cloudy, with a high near 46. North wind 5 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Friday Night A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 29.
Saturday A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly before noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 48.

Johnson Creek Airport WebCam
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Stage 1 Fire restrictions have been lifted.
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Bearskin Fire

Boise National Forest

Current as of 9/18/2017
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Lightning
Date of Origin Wednesday August 23rd, 2017 approx. 07:30 PM
Location 21 miles NE of Lowman, Idaho – located in Valley County
Incident Commander M Quesinberry
Total Personnel 136
Size 30,144 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 10%
Estimated Containment Date Sunday October 01st, 2017 approx. 12:00 AM

9-15-2017 Bearskin Fire Closure Reduced – Version #4
The Bearskin Fire area closure on the Boise and Salmon Challis National Forest has been reduced significantly due to a decrease in fire activity. The change in the closure opens more than 80,000 acres to fall hunters and recreationists. The modified closure goes into Friday, Sept. 15, at noon.

9-15-2017 Bearskin Fire Closure Order – Version #4

Bearskin Fire Update – Saturday, September 17, 2017

Boise, Idaho – Most work on the Bearskin Fire was completed by the end of shift Saturday and most resources will be off the fire by tonight in advance of an expected cold front. Only a small workforce of local engines and crews will remain after today, actively engaged in mop-up and monitoring to ensure the fire does not escape containment and to conduct firing operations if needed. Smoke may linger for weeks, and even flare up, as interior hot spots ignite.

Weather was warm and dry Saturday and that is expected to continue for one more day. A cold front will arrive Monday and from 3 to 6 inches of snow is expected between then and Wednesday.

Operations Section Chief John Giller says today, three engines will be working along County Road 579 on the west side of the fire, focusing on an area that showed a little activity late Saturday. The east side of the fire is quiet and in patrol status.

All the suppression repair work is done – suppression repair restores areas on the landscape that have been damaged by the work of equipment and crews fighting the fire. Backhaul will continue today, returning truckloads of equipment used on the fire like pumps and hoses, to the local district.

The National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) which has been managing the fire since Sept. 11 will transfer command to a local Incident Commander Monday morning at 6 a.m. As NIMO prepares to demobilize (leave the incident), leadership attention will be focused on the firefighters, both hand crews and engines, as operational responsibility is transferred to the District. This ensures continuity of tasks and keeps firefighter safety first and foremost.

InciWeb link:
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Payette Wilderness Fires

Highline Fire Closure Rescinded

McCall, ID – The Payette National Forest has rescinded the Highline fire closure in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness effective immediately, allowing access to the trails, airstrips and area in and around Chamberlain Basin. “While the fire has moderated with the recent wet and cold fall weather, the fire still has a potential to flare up and there are risks associated with traveling in Wilderness that the public needs to understand and have awareness about,” said Anthony Botello, Krassel District Ranger. “Wilderness visitors are warned to take precautions around and under fire-weakened trees while traveling within the fire area,” Botello advises.

The Highline Fire was started by lightning on July 28 in one of the most remote areas of the Wilderness. With the exception of a handful of days, it burned mostly with low intensity and a slow rate of spread for the past 55 days and burned dead and downed vegetation, brush and some stands of trees in a natural, mosaic fashion in the Wilderness. Due to concerns for the safety of employees and visitors, the Payette issued multiple closures as the fire grew and moved.

Lightning ignited fires in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness are a natural part of the ecosystem and are managed to prevent impacts to and loss of buildings, private land, trail bridges, historic structures and other values at risk, but these natural fires are intentionally allowed to travel across the landscape in as natural a manner as possible.

Trail, airstrip and/or area closures are sometimes necessary to protect visitors from unpredictable fire intensity and spread, while allowing firefighters to take necessary actions. However, closures are also an impact to visitors to the National Forest and even more intrusive to visitors to Wilderness. Wilderness is managed with as few of controls over visitors as possible to maintain the untrammeled nature and primitive and unconfined recreation visitors seek. “We take closures in Wilderness very seriously. We go into them slowly and thoughtfully and come out of them as quickly as we can,” Botello said.

The Highline fire is not entirely out. Its spread has moderated and most areas of the fire are showing little to no heat. The short-term weather predictions are calling for cool and wet weather for the next few weeks with possible seasonal warming and drying by the first half of October. Visitors are encouraged to check with the Payette National Forest for current fire, trail and airstrip conditions and if possible stay out of the Highline fire area. Wilderness users are responsible for understanding their surroundings and taking precautions to avoid hazardous areas where fire has effected trees, soil, water or other features of a natural landscape.

For more information on Wilderness in the Payette National Forests, contact the Krassel Ranger District at 208-634-0600.

Brian Harris
Public Affairs Officer
Payette National Forest
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Missouri Fire
1,277 Acres 9/15/2017
Location Missouri Ridge, Krassel District north east of Yellow Pine
Area Closure Order for Missouri Fire has been Terminated 9/15/2017
The Area Closure Order for the Missouri Fire (Order #0412-504) has been terminated effective September 15, 2017. This lightning ignition on the Krassel District north of Yellow Pine has displayed little to no activity and no growth for several weeks. Those venturing into the burned area are advised to watch for hazard trees and unstable terrain. The Missouri Ridge Trail (NFS #031) is passable.

Goat Fire
818 acres 9/14/2017
Location in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River drainage.
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Highline Fire

Payette National Forest

Current as of 9/19/2017, 6:45:27 PM
Incident Type Wildfire
Date of Origin Saturday July 29th, 2017 approx. 12:00 AM
Incident Description Wildfire Burning Within The Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness
Incident Commander Joe Reinarz, Incident Commander, National Incident Management Organization (NIMO)
Total Personnel 13
Size 84,619 Acres

Highline Fire Update – September 20, 2017

This will be the last distributed update unless significant activity occurs. Monitor Inciweb for the latest information.

Location: The Highline Fire and Goat Fire are both burning on the Payette National Forest, Krassel Ranger District, entirely within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness (, approximately 23 miles east/northeast of Warren, Idaho.

Date of Origin: July 28, 2017 @ approx. 7:00 p.m.

Cause: Started by lightning

Current Size: Highline Fire: 84,619 acres / Goat Fire: 818 Acres

Current Situation: Weather forecasts show conditions will remain very cool, with numerous rain and snow showers possible through early Friday morning. The National Incident Management Organization that has been managing the fire since mid-August will transition with a local Type 3 Incident Commander Thursday morning. The incoming fire resources will spend much of Wednesday shadowing and gaining information about the fire. Continued assessment of the weather conditions and planning for extraction of point protection equipment such as gravity fed sprinkler systems positioned to protect values at risk within the fire area will continue. The need to re-staff Root Ranch and the Beaver and Big Creek areas will be assessed after a dryer weather pattern moves into the area next weekend. A total of 13 people are assigned to the incident.

Fire Management Strategy: The Payette National Forest has selected a monitor/point protection fire management strategy as the fire is burning within the Wilderness and was started naturally by lightning. This management approach allows fire to play its natural role in the Wilderness to achieve ecological benefits for enhancement of forest health and wildlife habitat, while protecting Values at Risk. Suppression actions will be taken as needed to protect Values at Risk.

Closures: No Forest Area Closures are in place. The public is reminded to use caution when traveling in areas near the fire as trees may have been weakened by fire and may fall without any warning.

For More Information: Follow the Payette National Forest on Twitter at @Payette Forest, and on Facebook at U.S. Forest Service – Payette National Forest. Subscribe to email updates via GovDelivery at If you have a question, please email us at Visit for more information on the Highline and other fires throughout the nation and for information on fires throughout the state of Idaho.

Light snow over the Highline fire, Sept 19, 2017

InciWeb link:
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Highline Fire Closure Area Reduced in Middle Fork Elk Zone

By Evin Oneale, Regional Conservation Educator
Friday, September 15, 2017

A large portion of the Middle Fork Elk Zone has reopened thanks to cooler temperatures and slower fire growth of the Highline and Goat Fires burning within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. The new closure area and other fire updates can be viewed at or

The updated closure impacts only 17 percent of the Middle Fork Elk Zone, where the season opens today (September 15).

The Big Creek Trail #196 and everything south of the trail is now available to hunters. Several backcountry airstrips are also operational including Cold Meadows, Cabin Creek and Soldier Bar.

While the previous closure affected 52 percent of Unit 26, now only 19 percent of the unit is closed. Nearly half of unit 20A remains closed as fire activity is primarily within that unit.

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Salmon-Challis 2017 Wilderness Fires

Honeymoon Fire
1,860 Acres 9/20/2017
Location Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, 30 NM NW of Stanely, ID

Tappan Fire
1,650 Acres 9/20/2017
Location On the Middle Fork and North Fork Ranger Districts, near the confluence of Camas Creek and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Fire is located east of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Ibex Fire
17,256 Acres 9/20/2017
Location 23 miles NW of Challis, Idaho
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Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Fire Updates

Coolwater Complex
3,264 acres 9/18/2017
Location Near Andy’s Lake and Coolwater Mountain

Hidden Fire
12,261 acres 9/16/2017
Location Hidden Ridge, 7 mi. NE of Elk Summit Guard Station

Chute Creek Fire
5,107 acres 9/20/2017
Location 2.5 miles west of Blodgett Lake, 16.7 miles west of Hamilton, Montana

Buck Lake Fire
2,390 acres 9/20/2017
Location 19 Miles NE of Elk City, Idaho

Hanover Fire
26,500 acres 9/18/2017
Location South of Grangeville, ID and northeast of Riggins, ID

Rattlesnake Point Fire
4,843 acres 9/15/2017
Location Rattlesnake Point – Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Moose Creek 1 Fire
17,395 acres 9/20/2017
Location Southeast of the Historic Moose Creek Ranger Station

Lone Pine Fire
15,237 acres 9/20/2017
Location Below Lone Pine Point in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness

Patrol Ridge Fire
1,175 acres 9/14/2017
Location Patrol Ridge – 4.5 miles east of Windy Saddle

Big Elk
80 acres 9/18/2017
Location Big Elk Creek

Pronghorn Fire
78 acres 9/14/2017
Location Matteson Ridge
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Idaho Panhandle National Forest Fires

North Fork Hughes Fire
5,000 Acres 9/18/2017
Location 20 miles North of Nordman, Idaho

Buck Fire
2,386 Acres 9/18/2017
Location on the St. Joe Ranger District, approximately 16 miles southeast of Avery, Idaho.
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National Interagency Fire Center

September 19, 2017

Yesterday at 2 p.m. the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group lowered the national preparedness level to PL4. This decision was based on cooler temperatures and rain throughout the western states, decreased initial attack activity, very little growth on large fires, and an increase in the availability of resources.

One new large fire was reported in Utah yesterday, but firefighters contained it. Currently, 44 large fires have burned 1,6 million acres. Firefighters will take advantage of the current weather conditions and push toward containment goals.

Weather: The large, strong, and cold low pressure system will continue to move into the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, and the Northern Rockies bringing widespread rain and mountain snow along with breezy winds rotating counterclockwise around the low pressure area. To the south across the southern half of the Great Basin and California, a windy southwesterly flow will develop and will create pockets of critical fire weather conditions despite having only marginally low afternoon humidity levels. The breezy flow will continue east across the Great Plains toward the Great Lakes. Meanwhile off the East Coast, Jose will continue to spin a few hundred miles off the Jersey Shore possibly moving toward Long Island and Boston.

States currently reporting large fires:

California (6)
Idaho (2)
Montana (15)
Oregon (14)
Washington (7)