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Falling rocks and debris creating safety hazard for people on west side of Moose Fire

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A view of the Moose Fire on August 15. A sprinkler system is set up to protect this structure. | Photo courtesy Brian Scott, video taken from the Salmon-Challis National Forest Facebook page

SALMON – As fire activity continues to increase along the Salmon River, public safety is a concern for firefighters.

Amy Baumer, a spokeswoman for Salmon-Challis National Forest, tells EastIdahoNews.com growth on the western side of the Moose Fire 17 miles north of Salmon is hazardous for people in the area. As of Monday night, a portion of Salmon River Road and areas surrounding it are closed.

“From Pine Creek down towards Panther Creek — that portion of the road is closed until further notice,” Baumer says. “Rocks, logs and debris are falling onto the road. (Firefighters) are working to clear that and assess the situation. They’ll be opening it up once they feel it’s safe.”

This section of the fire is the area firefighters are focusing on Tuesday, with the goal of forming “a potential firing operation along the road to aid in reducing the intensity” of the fire.

Though weather conditions will continue to be hot and dry, Baumer says reduced winds will be helpful in preventing or reducing additional growth.

“Air resources will be utilized, as well, where appropriate and safe to do so,” according to the latest update from the Bureau of Land Management’s InciWeb website.

RELATED | Moose Fire grows to 77,298 acres, 27% contained

Firefighters used rafts to cross the river along U.S. Highway 93 near Fourth of July Creek Monday to put out a hot spot in some trees. Air and ground crews dropped buckets to put out smoke in the area.

“Hand and engine crews continued to go direct in areas of the ‘horseshoe,’ including Napoleon Area, Napoleon Hill, and Moose Meadows, but had to back off in some areas due to increased fire activity rendering it unsafe. Structure protection within the ‘horseshoe’ is ongoing,” according to InciWeb.

There are currently six helicopters on scene, along with 49 engines and 949 people working to contain the fire.

The 80,096-acre blaze is currently 34% contained. The fire started on July 17 and is believed to be human-caused, but the specific details remain under investigation.

RELATED | Pilots killed in Salmon River helicopter crash

So far, no injuries or major property damage have been reported from the fire, although two pilots assisting with firefighting efforts were killed in a helicopter crash on the Salmon River on July 21.

The latest information on evacuations is available here. For more information about road closures, click here.

A virtual public meeting will be held on Wednesday on the Salmon-Challis National Forest Facebook Page.

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