How often will the Forest review opening closed areas?
The Salmon-Challis National Forest will be reviewing the fire closures daily. When areas are considered safe for public use, closures will be lifted.
What are the considerations for opening closed areas?
The Forest has set several priorities for opening closed areas:
· Public Safety – hazards to the public from fire effects and suppression activities (see below) need to be greatly reduced or eliminated.
o Fire Activity – An area should be free from active burning for several days to several weeks (depending on the intensity of the burn and the fuel load remaining). Fire managers to not want to risk the possibility of high fire activity returning if the weather turns warmer and dryer.
o Fire Effects – An area has to be cleared of snags, stumps, smoldering holes, etc., in developed and regularly used dispersed camping and recreational areas.
o Roads – Should be cleared of immediate hazards to travelers, such as snags, damaged culverts, bridges or road improvements. Road surfaces should be safe for highway or high-clearance vehicles.
· Firefighter Safety – Certain areas of the fire are still staffed by fire personnel working on suppression, rehabilitation and monitoring activities. For the safety of personnel we do not want to mix fire management activities and public use (particularly hunting). As fire suppression and rehabilitation work is completed areas will be assessed for lifting the closure.
· Resource Protection – Forest and riparian resources within the fire closure area have been impacted by fire activity. To ensure long- term recovery of these resources, it is beneficial to limit public use and travel in those areas where fire burned the hottest. Some of these areas may not be opened for use until next spring to provide for the best possible long-term recovery.
What else could affect opening of closed areas?
Time is the best measure. Forest managers do not want to lift closures too early, only to have to re-close areas if fire activity increases with warmer and drier weather. Not only does this frustrate the public, but puts people at risk who may have travelled into these areas for long-term trips with no way to contact them in the backcountry.
What are the specific closures?
· Bear Valley Creek Trail 012 is closed on the north side of the Fir Creek Campground bridge, closing access to the Bear Valley Creek hot springs and the location known as Big Hole. Access to Blue Bunch Mountain via trail is still open. There is still active fire at the confluence.
· The Loon Creek Rd., Forest Rd. 172, remains closed from 9 am to 9 pm from the Hecla Mine through to the Loon Creek Guard Station to allow for safe firefighting operations near Loon Creek summit.
· For the boundaries of the overarching Fire Area Closure, see: http://inciweb.org/incident/3062/. This website has maps and the closure order language outlining the boundaries. Local Forest Service offices will also have this closure information.
What closed areas have been reopened?
· The Nip & Tuck Rd. (Forest Rd. 033) is open for non-motorized traffic only. All spur roads leading to the north of the main road are still closed.
· All areas on the south side of Hwy 75 and Hwy 21 in the Stanley area, and east of the Yankee Fork River are open.
What are the firefighters working on each day?
· Suppressing fire: where needed, performing suppression activities to check fire growth in areas of concern. Requesting assistance when needed from other fire resources to check fire advances in areas of concern. Directing helicopter bucket drops when needed.
· Patrolling road systems: looking for road damage to be repaired, removing snags and downfall affecting road access, checking fire activity along roadways.
· Monitoring fire activity: observing fire activity throughout the fire area, assessing if suppression action should be taken.
· Suppression repair work: repairing and rehabilitating hand lines, dozer lines, fence lines and other suppression impacts. Cleaning fire debris from culverts. Pulling fire wraps and staples from structures. Removing fire debris from recreation sites.
· Recovering equipment: Pulling sprinklers, hose-lays and pumps from around structures in areas which are no longer at risk. Backhauling any other fire equipment.
· Maintaining equipment: making sure sprinkler systems, hose-lays and pumps which are still in active fire areas are operational in case they are needed.
Is the TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) over the entire fire area still in effect?
The TFR has been reduced to an square area south of Bonanza to just north of Loon Creek Summit and from just west of Red Mountain to just east of Custer. For specific aviation maps, see the FAA website or inciweb.org. In the remainder of the fire area, which is now unrestricted, use caution and announce your intentions over the radio. Fire helicopters will still be in the area.
What campgrounds are open along the Salmon River?
Along the Highway 75 Salmon River Corridor from Stanley to the Sawtooth NRA boundary, the following campgrounds are open and will be managed by the Sawtooth National Recreation Area through the end of hunting season: Casino, Mormon Bend, Upper O’Brien, Holman, and Whiskey Flat. In addition, campgrounds along the Yankee Fork River are also open.
Why can’t the firefighters do something about the smoke?
Fire manager’s highest priorities are protecting lives and property, then managing the wildfire. Sometimes the conditions that are good for keeping the air clear of smoke can be bad for containing fires. A windy day, for example, helps smoke disperse, but can also help a fire spread. Fire teams do try to manage smoke when possible. As they develop their strategies for fighting a fire, fire managers consider fire behavior and weather forecasts, topography and proximity to communities – all factors that can affect smoke.
Note: Signs are posted at all entry points with information as to what is open or closed.
For additional information call:
· Salmon-Challis National Forest Supervisor’s Office:
o 208-756-5100 or 208-756-5145
· Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District: 208-879-4100
For information on the web: http://inciweb.org/incident/3062/