August 16, Gold Pan Fire Update
Incident: Gold Pan Complex Wildfire
August 16, 2013
Contact: Public Information Officers: Bob MacGregor, Glenda Scott
What: Gold Pan Complex (Gold Pan, Nez Peak, Thirteen, and Goat Fires)
Location: 35 miles SW of Darby, MT. in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.
Jurisdiction: Bitterroot National Forest – West Fork Ranger District
Size: 18,059 acres.
Public Meeting: Friday August 16 at 6:30 p.m. to update residents on the current fire status including the fire activity at Nez Peak that is near the wilderness boundary. The meeting will occur at the Forest Service’s West Fork Ranger Station at 6735 West Fork Road.
Summary: A Red Flag Warning will be in effect from noon today to 9 pm for gusty winds and low humidity.
Aided by 96 degree temperatures and an abnormally low humidity of 5% the Gold Pan fire ate up some significant acreage Thursday. The largest gains were in the Grassy Gulch and Lunch Creek areas west of the Hells Half Lookout where the unburned fuels in the basin below the lookout torched. The fire also spotted across to the north side of the Magruder Road near the old CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp late on Thursday afternoon. Instability of the late afternoon air prevented helicopters from dropping water on the spots. In the Kim Creek Saddle area the fire started to reach the crowns of the trees but did not make significant runs. This area continues to contain a lot of heat. The Magruder Road continues to be closed to public traffic within the fire area.
Helicopters were effective in the morning in slowing the growth of the Nez Peak fire; four helicopters dropped water in rotation and kept the fire on the top of the ridge line. This fire is now approximately 80 acres in size. The Nez Peak Fire was detected Wednesday and is on the northeast side of Nez Perce Peak two miles northwest of the intersection of the Magruder Road and Hells Half Acre road. It is one mile west of the wilderness boundary. The terrain is steep and riddled with snags and bug killed trees. Fire managers could not find a safe location to insert hand-crews.
The one-acre Thirteen fire was detected on Tuesday and is eight miles south of the Gold Pan fire near Thirteen Mountain. The Goat fire is 13 acres and is monitored from reconnaissance flights and the lookout; it continues to have some smoke. Both of these fires are surrounded by rocky terrain and the 2012 Mustang fire area and have limited potential for growth.
With today’s foreboding weather forecast safety of firefighters and the public will be in the forefront of all actions. If crews cannot do an activity safely then they will not engage. Firefighters will patrol the Magruder Road and assess control measures for the spots near the old CCC camp. Helicopter water drops may be used on both the Gold Pan and Nez Peak fires. A hand crew and three engines will be assigned to assessing structure protection and strengthening the contingency line east of the Wilderness boundary.
The Gold Pan and Nez Peak fires could make significant runs today pushed by a frontal system passage with gusty southwest to west winds. There will likely be smoky conditions in the West Fork and Bitterroot Valley areas. The weather today will be hot and continued dry due to the high pressure hanging over the area.
There are four helicopters assigned to the Gold Pan Complex. Crews will continue to assist the Bitterroot NF and surrounding National Forests in initial attack as well as share the assignedhelicopters for water drops. New fire detections are increasing with the hot, dry weather.
Closures: An emergency closure order is in place for all Forest Service roads and trails within and surrounding the fire. View the closure order/map at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/. There is also a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire. For the latest fire information/photos go to: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/ Stay in touch with the Bitterroot National Forest through www.facebook.com/DiscoverTheBitterroot and www.twitter.com/BitterrootNF. Email Goldpan13@gmail.com to receive this information electronically.