Heavy equipment is being used to remove fallen rocks and debris from the Moose Fire. In the video above, firefighters remove a 100-foot dead and weakened tree that could be a falling hazard. | Photo and video courtesy Salmon-Challis National Forest
SALMON – The Moose Fire near Salmon has held steady over the last week showing little growth, which has allowed firefighters to expand containment lines around the blaze.
The blaze is at 130,093 acres and 51% containment, according to a Wednesday morning news release from Salmon-Challis National Forest. Full containment is estimated for Oct. 31.
It’s only grown 16 acres since last Wednesday and containment has increased from 37% since Sept. 13. Fire officials attribute cooperative weather as the main reason for that.
“It’s been slightly moisture. We’ve picked up some rain over parts of the fire. The fire is so big that it doesn’t all get rain at once. The bigger thing is we’ve had humidity recovery overnight with the cooler temperatures, which helps keep the fire activity a little quieter,” Fire information officer Holly McKinney tells EastIdahoNews.com.
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Rocks and falling debris near roads have been an ongoing concern for firefighters. Windy conditions in the area pose an increased risk of that happening Wednesday. On the south side of the fire where it’s not very active, firefighters are primarily focused on cleanup. They’ll be using heavy equipment to remove debris and potential fuel for a fire starting again.
With an expected thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon, crews are hoping to take advantage of that by exposing hot spots.
“Work will continue along the power line (on Service Road 300 and Ridge Road) removing logs and other potential hazards. The fire area will be monitored by ground and drones to locate heat sources. Firefighters and heavy equipment operators will be working closely with resource advisors to … return damaged areas to a stable condition that reflects pre-fire conditions,” the news release says.
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With the rain, McKinney says they’re bracing for some safety concerns for firefighters and roads in the area.
Traffic delays are anticipated along Williams Creek Road on the south side of the fire over the next two days while firefighters haul single wide trailers with equipment to the Cobalt Mine about 22 miles west of Salmon.
The area between Leesburg and Williams Creek Road is closed to the public. Pilot cars are helping to escort traffic in the area. Details about evacuations can be accessed here. For information about closures and other restrictions, click here.
RELATED | U.S. Forest Service battling 1,000-acre Moose Fire near Salmon
The Moose Fire began on July 17 about five miles southwest of North Fork. The southernmost point of the fire begins at Morning Glory Peak between Jesse Creek and Old Leesburg Road and continues north towards U.S. Highway 93 and North Fork before circling back around to the Salmon River on the northwest side and ending in Leesburg. See the map below.
Officials have determined the fire is human-caused but specific details about what happened are under investigation. Though two helicopter pilots were killed on the Salmon River in July while assisting with firefighting efforts, no further injuries have been reported.
RELATED | Pilots killed in Salmon River helicopter crash
There are currently 659 firefighters on the scene.
The 747-acre Owl fire, which began on Sept. 8 near the west side of the Moose Fire, is 100% contained. It was caused by lightning.
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