August 7th 9am Fire Update
Incident: Gold Pan Complex Wildfire
Weather: A dry air mass moved into the area overnight and will influence fire behavior early today. Poor recovery last night will result in humidity in the teens by mid-morning. Temperatures will be in the upper 80’s with light, terrain driven winds of 3-5 miles per hour. Weather conditions today are favorable for today’s planned burnout operations.
Today firefighters, with helicopter support, will begin a firing operation south of the Magruder road in an effort to move the fire through several large unburned areas between the fire and Magruder road. A helicopter will use a PSD (plastic sphere dispenser) to drop incendiary spheres (ping pong balls filled with potassium permanganate injected with a water/glycol solution that ignites in 25 to 30 seconds) on a strip of unburned vegetation across the slope. This strip will be a short distance downhill from the main fire front near the top of the ridge south of Magruder road. The spheres will ignite unburned vegetation when they hit the ground, and the resulting fire will burn back upslope into the fire front. If this first stripping operation is successful, the helicopter will repeat this process one strip at a time, slowly walking the fire edge down the slope to Magruder road. Firefighters will hold the fire at Magruder road. Engines will also patrol the road overnight.
Heavy equipment will be constructing contingency line on the Soda Springs road today, working directly west of private property along Nez Perce and West Fork roads. Hand crews will be constructing fire line through drainages to connect road systems through this area.
Incident status: 492 personnel, five Type 1 crews, six Type 2 crews, seven helicopters, 10 engines, two feller-bunchers, one excavator, 16,342 acres, cost to date $3.725 million.Fire managers emphasize that this will be a long duration fire due to its’ size, topography, fuels, where it is located and the early dry warm weather this area of Montana and Idaho has experienced. Fire activity is steadily increasing in intensity as warmer, dry air has returned to the area.
Road Guards on the Magruder road closure are located at Fales Flat campground on the east and Observation Point (Idaho) on the west. Fales Flat campground remains open to the public. Road guards are also located at Forest road No. 5644 at its’ junction with Nez Perce road and at Mud Creek Saddle; and Forest road No. 1303 west of Blue Joint Bay at its’ junction with Forest road no. 362.
Closures: An emergency closure order is in place for all Forest Service roads and trails within and surrounding the fire. The closure order and associated map can be viewed at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/ . Three roads are closed in the West Fork Valley associated with contingency line construction. There is also a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire. For the latest fire information/photos http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/ . Stay in touch with the Bitterroot National Forest through www.facebook.com/DiscoverTheBitterroot and www.twitter.com/BitterrootNF.END