WEISER – Firefighters are gaining the upper hand on one of the Weiser Complex fires in the Payette National Forest, while the other is still actively burning in heavy fuels.
Fire managers say the Hells Canyon Fire is holding at just over 9,300 acres and is 85 percent contained.
Meanwhile, the Raft Fire is actively burning in Benton Creek. The fire is now estimated at 12,000 acres and is 8 percent contained.
“We’re going direct on both of these fires in order to keep them as small as possible,” said Mike Bloomer, operations chief for the Great Basin Incident Management Team.
An area closure is in effect for the southern part of the Weiser Ranger District that is threatened by the fire. Managers say mandatory evacuations are in effect and four campgrounds have been closed, including the Spring Creek, Kawanis, Justrite, and Paradise campgrounds.
“This was a tough weekend to have fires on the District as Labor Day weekend brings hundreds of people into the Forest,” said ranger Greg Lesch. “Added is the fact that hunting season opened and this is a popular hunting area. We are working to reopen the area as soon as possible, but a date has not been set as we need to focus on these fires for now.”
Highway 71 from Cambridge to Brownlee Reservoir remains open as does the Mann Reservoir campground.
In addition to impacts on campers and hunters, the fire is burning cattle grazing areas.
“Another main focus for us is to save as much grazing areas as possible," said Lesch. “We do not want these two fires to grow together and we’re making every effort to keep these fires as small as possible.”
Hunters and campers are advised to monitor the fires, be mindful of the closed area, and to contact the Weiser Ranger District for an update on recreation limitations.
Community meetings about the fires are scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at the Cambridge Fairgrounds, and 6:30 p.m. at Weiser High School.