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Moose Fire 15% contained as chances for ‘erratic fire behavior’ increase


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Photo and video provided by Salmon-Challis National Forest

SALMON – Firefighters continue to battle the ever-growing Moose Fire amid hazardous weather conditions.

The 40,338-acre blaze about five miles southwest of North Fork near Salmon is now 15% contained, according to a news release from the Salmon-Challis National Forest Thursday morning. The fire started on July 17.

Two helicopter pilots were killed earlier this month while assisting with firefighting efforts. No other injuries have been reported, and the cause of the fire has not been determined.

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With a forecast calling for a 30% chance of thunderstorms and high winds Thursday, officials say this increases the chances of “erratic fire behavior.”

“This will add moisture to the atmosphere and bring instability to the fire. This instability has the potential to yield significant fire activity and spread rates,” the news release says.

Firefighters used drones to contain the fire near the river’s edge on the southeast side of the blaze near Bobcat and Napoleon Gulch. The move helped protect homes and buildings in the area and that is fire officials number one focus Thursday as they work to establish containment around Diamond Gulch and the Spring Creek and Pine Creek Ranch area on the west side of the fire.

“Firefighters will continue to mop up and secure the line to the north, reinforce and continue to establish fire lines to the south and southeast, and conduct structure protection efforts to the west,” fire officials say.

Smoke from the fire is expected to flow to the southwest just east of the U.S. Highway 93 corridor and settle in Elk Bend Thursday evening. Those with autoimmune or other sensitive health conditions in Lemhi County should avoid prolonged outdoor activity.

A temporary fire restriction is in place in the immediate area of the fire, which means private drones are not allowed.

“Drone operations pose a significant risk to aerial operations and firefighters. If you fly, we can’t,” fire officials say in a news release.

Homeowners on both sides of Highway 93 from Tower Creek to North Fork remain under an evacuation order and the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office is asking those on Salmon River Road from Squaw Creek to Pine Creek to prepare for evacuations.

Salmon River Road is closed to traffic, except for the pilot car system, which is scheduled to run as normal with the potential for temporary delays. The pilot car is for residents, permit holders and river shuttles.

The lightning-caused Woodtick fire, which started on July 14 six miles northwest of Meyers Cove in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, has spread to 1,814 acres. The U.S. Forest Service is working to “confine and contain it.”

An evacuation order is in effect for those living around Camas Creek. The Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office is asking homeowners in the Castle Creek and Sliver Creek area to “prepare for the possibility of evacuation.” will continue to provide fire updates as we receive them.