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KIWAH FIRE UPDATE AUGUST 13, 2018

Contact(s): Amy Baumer


The lightning caused Kiwah Fire, was detected at approximately 5:30 p.m. on July 17, 2018.  Fire managers estimate size at 15,437 acres.  The fire is burning in sub-alpine fir, lodgepole pine, and spruce on the Middle Fork Ranger District and is being allowed to play, as nearly as possible, its natural ecological role in the environment while providing for firefighter and public safety.  The fire is located northwest of Indian Creek Guard Station within the Indian Creek drainage in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, in steep, inaccessible terrain.  Yesterday the fire was active in the afternoon in the upper Tomahawk, Little Indian, and Indian Creek drainages.  Fire managers estimate the fire is north and east of Battle Axe Mountain, in the headwaters of Cap and Squaw Creeks.  Bucket work was completed along the Meadow Creek Road, Payette National Forest.

The Payette National Forest; Krassel Ranger District has issued a ROAD CLOSURE (#0412-524) for the Kiwah Fire-Road #1290 for Public Safety.  Road Description is National Forest System (NFS) Road #1290 (Meadow Creek Road) is described as beginning from its intersection with NFS Road 375 near Monumental Summit located in Township 18N, Range 10E, NE Section 18 and continuing to Meadow Ridge located in Township 18N, Range 9E, SE Section 32, Boise Meridian.  The above described Road, as shown on the attached map (see Inciweb link), is within the Krassel Ranger District, Payette National Forest, Boise Meridian, Valley County, ID.  The purpose is to provide for public safety due to hazards associated with the Kiwah Fire; the above-described Road is closed to all public use.  The public can view the order and map at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5995/45665/.  This closure is in addition to the Kiwah Fire Emergency Trail Closure Order Number: 04-13-18-600, which also can be found on Inciweb, under the closures tab.  

The Kiwah Fire is being managed to restore and maintain ecological process consistent with the Salmon-Challis and Payette National Forests land management plans.  A priority of fire mangers is providing employee and public safety while defending the identified values at risk.  Specific values potentially threatened with this fire include private property and mining infrastructure, Forest Service Guard Stations, Middle Fork Salmon River boat traffic, road and trail improvements, lookout buildings, communication sites, and cultural resources, in this case, are abandoned, but historical mining structures within the fire area.  Challenges firefighters are facing on this incident include providing protection for these values due extended hot and dry conditions, heavy fuel loading, and limited availability of firefighting resources to work this fire.

Firefighters are implementing a point protection strategy.  A point protection strategy is a wildfire response strategy, which protects specific assets or highly valued resources from the wildfire without directly halting the continued spread of the wildfire which takes in to account exposure to firefighters, values at risk, impacts to area user groups, and in the case of the Kiwah Fire, wilderness values.  The selected point protection strategy was determined to best balance for protection of values and firefighter safety.

To date firefighters have created protection plans for the Stibnite Mine Site, Thunder Mountain, Indian Creek, and Pistol Creek areas.  Work has begun to implement these protection plans with significant progress in these areas.  Currently 38 firefighters are assigned to the Kiwah Fire and work will continue into the coming weeks.  Firefighters and fire managers will continue to utilize the resources available to most efficiently complete the needed work.  Fire managers expect the Kiwah Fire will continue to spread until a significant precipitation event occurs.  Typically, season-ending weather events occur in this area between the last half of September through the first half of October. 

Despite cooler temperatures, conditions are favorable for daytime Haines of 5/6 to persist with dry low-level air still in place.  Humidity recovery will be better than recent nights, but still marginal to poor.  Isolated virga showers or storms are possible this afternoon from near Mackay and Willow Creek Summit to Gilmore Summit and Leadore, with gusts 35mph or higher.  Increasing monsoon moisture will give us a better chance of wetting rains but still a mix of wet/dry thunderstorms midweek onward.

Nationally, there are 59 uncontained large fires in the west, which are being managed under a full suppression strategy, and 55 large fires being managed under a strategy other than full suppression.  These fires are contributing to the smoke, which is drifting into the valleys surrounding Salmon and Challis.  The public can find further information on smoke at http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/, https://arcg.is/1zfeqH, and http://idsmoke.blogspot.com/.

Updates and information will be provided as significant changes occur.  The Kiwah Fire can be found on Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5995/.

Visit the Salmon-Challis National Forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/scnf/home, and check out News & Events, ‘Like Us’ on https://www.facebook.com/salmonchallisnf, and ‘Follow Us’ on https://twitter.com/SalmonChallisNF for further information. 

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/scnf/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD591497