August 18, Gold Pan Fire Update
Incident: Gold Pan Complex Wildfire
August 18, 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: 27,034 acres.
The Bitterroot National Forest has expanded the Closure Area around the fire to include the following areas: Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Areas and Selway Bitterroot Wilderness (North and South) of Magruder Road Corridor and south of Tough Creek Road and south of Barecone Lookout back to Salmon Mountain Lookout. The road block on the east end of Magruder Road has been moved from Fales Flat to the Krueger Ranch (approximately 3 miles west of the intersection with the West Fork Road), the road closure remains at Observation Point on the west end. Look on Inciweb for an updated Forest Closure Map.
Things were much quieter on the Gold Pan Complex on Saturday. After the large fire spread on Friday managers were concerned that forecasted similar weather conditions would spur another push. However the inversion hung in until the late afternoon on Saturday, trapping smoke from fires on the Nez Perce National Forest close to the ground and shading the fuels on the Gold Pan Complex inhibiting fire expansion. Lighter than forecasted winds also contributed to decreased fire behavior. Quieter conditions allowed firefighters to assess the movement of the Gold Pan fire from Friday; on the east side it has reached the western edge of the Lazy Creek drainage about a mile east of the Hells Half Acre Road. The fire has also moved along the slope north of Magruder Road near the old CCC Camp. North of Kim Creek Saddle the fire has moved north up the East Fork Creek drainage. Fire behavior was limited to occasional single tree torching and surface fire on Saturday. Crews continued working on keeping the Magruder Road open for fire traffic (it remains closed to the public) and looking for opportunities for direct action.
The Nez Peak fire was also quiet on Saturday; it has remained on the high ridge to the north and east of Nez Perce Peak. The fire is about one mile to the west of the Idaho/Montana border. This fire has been slowed by concentrated helicopter water drops but helicopter work was limited on Saturday due to the smoky conditions. An infra-red heat detection flight on early Saturday morning showed this fire to be at 208 acres. The Goat and Thirteen fires, the other two fires in this complex, remained at 14 and 1 acre respectively. Both of these fires are surrounded by the old fire scar of the 2012 Mustang fire and open rocky slopes that will limit their future growth. Their movements are being tracked by aerial monitoring.
Crews continued to work on the contingency lines well to the east of the fire. They are assessing roads for access, looking for water sources, placing pumps, laying hoses and getting familiar with the local topography. Residents should expect to see fire crews and engines in their neighborhoods, this work is important to being prepared if the fire does come out of the Wilderness into the front country. Structure protection personnel worked with local landowners to implement FireWise procedures. We encourage local landowners to take action to protect their property by following the FireWise guidelines contained in the link at the end of this Update.
A helicopter attached to the Gold Pan Complex assisted Bitterroot Forest personnel on an initial attack near Watchtower Lake. A hot-shot crew will be loaned to the initial attack effort today to try and insure that this small fire gets no bigger. This type of cooperation makes firefighting efforts much more successful.
Today’s weather should result in continued limited fire behavior. The inversion will not break until late in the afternoon creating smoky conditions for valley residents but reducing fire spread. Temperatures will be in the 80s and humidity in the teens. Light terrain driven winds (upslope and upvalley) will not favor large fire expansion. Long-term forecasts are projecting chances for precipitation on Wednesday or Thursday which would be a boon to firefighting efforts.
Doug Turman’s Northern Rockies Type 1 Management Team will be shadowing Hutton’s Team today and will assume command of the Complex at 6 am on Monday.
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. For information about preparing for potential evacuations see: http://rc.mt.gov/content/sheriff/documents/EmergencyEvacuation and www.Redcross.org/safeandwell . For instructions on making defensible space around your home see: http://www.firewise.org/