Moose Fire has now burned over 100 square miles; blaze is only 14% contained
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SALMON — The Moose Fire continues to grow in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, but cooler weather since Thursday has helped firefighters battle the blaze.
The fire, burning southwest of North Fork near Salmon, started on July 17 and has grown to more than 68,166 acres — the equivalent of over 105 square miles of burned area. The fire is only 14% contained as of Saturday.
Helicopters and air tankers were deployed this week for the first time since two pilots were killed in a helicopter crash on the Salmon River on July 21. There are currently 10 helicopters helping with the fire, along with 47 engines and over 1,000 firefighters.
Since Thursday afternoon’s windy conditions, the weather on the Moose Fire has been more favorable for firefighters, with lighter winds, cooler temperatures, and higher humidity levels, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release.
Moderate winds are expected Saturday, with cloudy skies, and a 30% chance of light precipitation. A few thunderstorms are possible in the morning, with clearing expected in the afternoon. Fire behavior will remain moderate Saturday morning but could pick up in the afternoon, with clearing and a change in wind direction from the northwest.
Active fire is burning north of Copper Mountain in the Pine Creek drainage area where the fire continues to move to the west and south. Crews remained in the Pine Creek area to provide protection to the Pine Creek Ranch as the fire is now on both sides of the drainage.
Elsewhere on the fire, firefighters continue to take advantage of the moderating fire behavior to extend and strengthen containment lines. Additional staff and equipment reinforced hand crews working on the west side of the fire in Pine Creek and Panther Creek.
Firefighters are using chainsaws and chippers to thin fuels on both sides of the Panther Creek Road to aid as a future control line. Crews improved and strengthened direct containment line around the 100-acre spot fire that slopped over the ridge south of the Diamond Line Tuesday afternoon and continue to use water to cool hot spots and secure the fire edge in the area.
Given potential for the fire to move to the south in steep terrain, heavy equipment crews are working to strengthen fuel breaks and remove log decks along the Ridge Road, Williams Creek Road, and the powerline west to the mine in Leesburg.
Engine crews continue to assess and protect structures in Panther Creek, Pine Creek, Shoup, and Leesburg areas, and along U.S. Highway 93.
At night, when weather conditions moderate fire behavior, crews are enjoying considerable success using drones to assist burnout operations, locate spot fires, and monitor fire behavior.
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