Wildfire Update - July 25
Incident: Gold Pan Complex Wildfire
July 25, 2013 – 11:00 AM
Contact: Public Affairs Officer: Tod McKay
Phone: 406-363-7122 / Cell: 406-531-1130
What: Gold Pan Fire
Location: 35 miles SW of Sula, MT. in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.
Jurisdiction: Bitterroot National Forest – West Fork Ranger District
Summary: The Gold Pan fire grew to 4,295 acres on Wednesday. The most active parts of the fire are on the east side in lower Gold Pan Creek and Langdon Gulch. The fire is burning west of the Magruder Ranger Station, near Kim Creek Saddle. It has moved within ¼ mile of the Selway River.
It’s burning in timber in very rugged and steep terrain. There are no structures threatened but an outfitter has a base camp nearby. Fire crews have installed sprinklers around Kim Creek Saddle to slow the fire’s progress as it moves towards the Magruder Corridor. Fire staff will continue to monitor the fire and are being assisted by lookouts and air patrol.
Closures: There are no closures at this time. Terrain: Extremely steep, remote, rocky
Trails: Portions of trails 12, 89 and 74 have been impacted by the fire. Hikers planning on using Trail 4 south of Magruder Ranger Station along the Selway River should be prepared for possible fire & smoke impacts.
Goat Fire: Fire crews discovered another wildfire Wednesday burning to the southwest of the Gold Pan Fire. The Goat Fire is a holdover started by lightning on July 17th. It is currently 8 acres and is burning in timber approximately 1.5 miles SE of Salmon Mountain Lookout. The fire is surrounded on three sides by old burns including the 2012 Mustang and Porcupine Fires. There are no closures at this time but trail 19 in the wilderness could be impacted by the fire and smoke.
Wilderness Fire Management: The Gold Pan and Goat fires are both burning in the remote Frank Church Wilderness and are being managed as wilderness fires. These naturally occurring fires ignited by lightning play a role in maintaining the wild character of wilderness as a place retaining its primeval character and influence, (Wilderness Act of 1964). The fires also help ecosystems by recycling nutrients, regenerating plants, and reducing high concentrations of fuels, reducing future fire intensity and size. The Bitterroot National Forest has been a leader in wilderness fire management for 40 years.
Magruder Road: Currently there are no closures or delays on the Magruder Corridor Road due to the fires. The road is closed today (July 25) near Salmon Mountain Base Camp due to road construction. The Gold Pan fire has moved within ¼ mile of the road. Temporary road closures/delays are possible if the fire moves closer. Fire personnel at Kim Creek Saddle will serve as road guards if needed. For the latest road information contact the West Fork Ranger District at 406-821-3269
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.
Current Fire Danger: The Bitterroot National Forest fire danger has been raised to ‘very high’ as a result of recent warm and dry weather. Forest officials are asking the public to be extremely careful when camping and to remember that it’s your job to properly maintain and extinguish your campfires.
Fire Restrictions: Stage 1 fire restrictions go into effect this Thursday, August 1st on the Bitterroot NF. These restrictions apply to campfires and smoking. Campfires will be allowed only within a designated campground or recreation site which contains a Forest-provided fire ring. Campfires will not be permitted at sites that do not have a Forest-provided fire ring. Smoking is also prohibited unless within an enclosed vehicle or building, or in an area of at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. Individuals who violate these restrictions could face fines of up to $5,000 and be held liable for all suppression costs and damages for starting a fire. For more information visit www.firerestrictions.us
Weather: According to the National Weather Service, conditions are primed to produce scattered dry thunderstorms over southwest Montana and eastern Idaho beginning today and Friday. Storms will have the potential to produce frequent lightning and very gusty, erratic winds. Lightning will be a danger to anyone spending time outdoors along with the possibility of new fire starts.
For the latest fire information and photos http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/