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Gold Pan Complex approaches 9,000 acres

By Will Wadley, KECI Weekend Anchor, wwadley@keci.com
Published On: Jul 28 2013 09:22:24 PM MDT
GOLD PAN FIRE

USFS

MISSOULA, Mont. -

The following is a press release from the Bitterroot National Forest:

The Gold Pan fire grew to 8,865 on Saturday based on an early morning infra-red flight. Most new fire activity was in the northeast side near Horsejaw Mountain. The fire is still about ½ mile from the historic Magruder Ranger Station and is burning in timber on both sides of the Selway River. Fire crews completed the protection measures at the Magruder Ranger Station. Sprinklers and cabin wrap (aluminized material that offers protection from radiant heat) are in place. The Hells Half Lookout, east of the ranger station, is also protected with aluminized wrap and it is not staffed at this time.

The Goat fire increased to 11 acres and is burning in timber approximately 2 miles southwest of the Gold Pan fire. It’s a “hold over” started by lightning on July 17th.

Due to fire growth and the active wildfire conditions the Forest has implemented an emergency area closure on the West Fork Ranger District in the Frank Church Wilderness. The road closure includes the Magruder Road Corridor which is closed at Nez Perce Pass on the Montana/Idaho line to Observation Pass (previously it was incorrectly stated the road was closed at Salmon Base Camp). See below for more closure information.

Terrain: Extremely steep, remote, rocky

Area Closure: To provide for public safety an emergency closure is in place for parts of the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho. The closure includes areas south of Magruder Road and Trail #37 to Beaver Jack Mountain. The closure includes Trail #13 east towards Trail #36. To see a map of the closure visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/. All forest service roads and trails within this area are closed.

Magruder Road: Currently closed at Nez Perce Pass on the Montana-Idaho line. Road guards are in place to divert traffic. The road is closed for more than 20 miles between Nez Perce Pass and Observation Point.

Resources: The Type 2 Northern Rockies Wildland Fire Management Team is transitioning with the district today. Incident Commander Diane Hutton and the team will begin management of the Gold Pan Complex on Monday morning. Three 20-person crews and one helicopter are assigned to the fire as well as a fire crew working with structure protection at the Magruder Ranger Station.

This will free up Bitterroot NF resources and crews to be available and respond to any new fire starts and “hold overs” from previous lightning. The Forest is expecting that more “hold overs” will be discovered along with new fire starts this weekend, as the weather continues to be hot and dry.

Smoke & Haze: Due to the location of the fires and fuels burning, smoke will likely continue to settle in the southern Bitterroot Valley, possibly drifting to North Fork and Salmon, Idaho. There are several fires burning in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest that are contributing to the smoke & haze this weekend in the Bitterroot Valley.