Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Progress made on Lodgepole Fire

Papoose Fire grows slowly near Middle Fork

Express Staff Writer

    The Lodgepole Fire, burning in the Challis Creek drainage just northeast of the upper Yankee Fork, was declared 40 percent contained Tuesday, up from only 15 percent on Friday. The lightning-caused fire was detected July 20.
    According to a press release from the U.S. Forest Service, the fire has burned 20,325 acres in difficult terrain with limited access. There are heavy fuels and materials involved, including timber and sagebrush with a large component of standing dead trees. The combination of those factors creates difficult conditions for the 788 firefighters on the scene.
    However, they are working to contain the south and east sides of the fire and steer it toward the 2007 Shower Bath Fire in the Frank Church Wilderness. Information Officer Robyn Broyles said firefighters are trying to protect bull trout habitat, power lines and cabins.
    There are being aided by 10 helicopters, 26 engines, three dozers and five water tenders.
    There has been only limited growth recently on the Papoose Fire, which has burned 9,474 acres along the west side of the lower Middle Fork of the Salmon River after being ignited by lightning on July 8. The fire is creeping through grass, brush and small stands of timber in steep, rocky, inaccessible terrain above the river, and has burned to the river in many places.
    There is not a serious effort to extinguish the fire, but only to protect resources, and only 35 firefighters are assigned to it. Firefighters from the Selway Fire Module are patrolling river campsites and heritage sites, including those with pictographs, removing ground fuels.
    Firefighters are also developing strategies to protect structures from the mouth of the Middle Fork to Arctic Creek Lodge on the Main Salmon River in case the fire reaches them. An emergency closure is in effect for the Papoose Fire area.
    The 16,330-acre Gold Pan Fire on the Bitterroot National Forest is burning about 35 miles northwest of the town of North Fork, north of Salmon.

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