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Idaho wildfires: Boundary Fire in Frank Church Wilderness scorches more than 100 square miles

In this story is a list and interactive map of several large wildfires burning in Idaho and Oregon.

BOISE, Idaho — Wildfire season in Idaho got underway a bit earlier than usual, due in part to Idaho’s drought conditions, which have led the Gem State to be at an above-normal risk for significant fires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

NIFC predicted that the increased fire risk will last through September, peaking in July and August. The news conference included officials from the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forrest Service, Idaho Department of Lands and Idaho Firewise.

All agencies are urging the public to help prevent wildfires and reduce risk during extremely dry conditions.

To protect your home during this fire season the Idaho Firewise said people should remove debris from their property – that includes the gutter and below the deck. People should also have a five-foot barrier of gravel around their home and store firewood at least 30 feet away from their home.

Scroll down to see interactive maps of all wildfires burning in Idaho, Oregon, California and across the West Coast.

Note: This list will be updated as more information about the fires becomes available.

Fires burning in Idaho

Boundary Fire

The Boundary Fire is located about two miles west of the Boundary Creek Boat Launch and 29 miles northwest of Stanley, Idaho. It is on steep, inaccessible terrain within the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. As of Thursday, September 16, it has burned 64,670 acres, or more than 101 square miles. Forty-eight percent of the completion objectives have been completed.

The Boundary Fire merged with the Scarface Fire on September 14. Those fires are being managed as one incident by the Great Basin Incident Management Team 5, under incident commander Marty Adell.

A point-protection strategy is being used on this fire. Point protection is defined as a wildfire response strategy that protects specific assets or highly valued resources from the wildfire without directly halting the continued spread of the wildfire. Values at risk are defined as property, structures, physical improvements, natural and cultural resources, community infrastructure, and economic, environmental, and social values such as the Middle Fork River corridor.

The fire was detected August 10, with the cause believed to be lightning. It is burning in lodgepole pine, spruce, Douglas fir and subalpine fir trees.

More from September 14 update: 

The fire was active Tuesday on Blue Bunch Mountain in the southwest area, in the Lime Creek area, as well as in the Thomas Creek area backing towards Little Soldier Creek and flanking eastward along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. 

Helicopters dropped water near Lime Creek and shuttled crews off the fire who have timed out. Firefighters continued holding and improving point protection measures at the Mountain King Mine.

Firefighters continue to evaluate and monitor the fire’s progression near private property and Forest Service infrastructure in Sulphur Creek, Morgan Creek Ranch, Thomas Creek, Little Creek Guard Station, Harlan Creek, Boundary Creek and Seafoam Guard Station, as well as local mines.

Management action plans are being constructed for point protection strategies on the Boise National Forest, as the fire continues southward movement.

Closures: Firefighter and public safety are a priority for the Boundary Fire. Access to Boundary Creek Boat Launch is not safe at this time.

An area, road and trail closure order is also in effect. Fire managers continue to assess closures on a daily basis.

Other information: As of September 16, the Boundary Fire information number is now 208-510-8437. It is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

Float boaters with a launch permit for the Middle Fork of the Salmon can contact 208-879-4108 for more information. For questions about boat launches and other issues related to river management, call 208-879-4101 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

As of September 15, 209 personnel were assigned to the Boundary Fire, which is located on the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Cougar Rock Complex

The Cougar Rock Complex is comprised of ten wildfires that all started by lightning and were discovered the morning of July 7, 2021. These fires are primarily in steep terrain and approximately 30 miles north of Orofino, Idaho. The Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 6 took command of the fires, combining them into the Cougar Rock Complex.

As of August 27, the fires had burned 8,178 acres, and the complex was 63% contained, with active burning continuing in the interior of the fires. Full containment is expected on Sept. 15.

All road closures in and around the Cougar Rock Complex have been lifted.

37 personnel are assigned to the Cougar Rock Complex, under the command of the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association.

Credit: inciweb
The Dixie-Jumbo Fires Incident Command Post at sunset.

Dixie-Jumbo Fires

The Dixie and Jumbo fires are located about 40 miles southeast of Grangeville and 15 miles south of Elk City, near the communities of Dixie and Comstock. As of August 20, the fire was estimated to have burned 43,344 acres -- almost 68 square miles -- and was 63% contained. No significant fire activity has been reported since August 20, but some creeping, smoldering and single-tree torching have occurred.

A total of 100 fire personnel are assigned to this wildfire. The estimated date for full containment is Oct. 30.

The fire was detected on the afternoon of July 5 by aviation resources. Fire managers say it was ignited by lightning.

The Idaho County Sheriff's Office lifted all related evacuation orders effective on August 10th.

A local fire management organization commanded by Mike Blinn and Russell Frei assumed command on August 15.

Granite Pass Complex

The Granite Pass Complex fire consists of four fires burning on the west side of Highway 12 near the Lolo Pass Visitor Center, located about 35 miles southwest of Missoula, Montana.

The combined fire acreage is 5,910 acres with 57% containment. As of Wednesday, September 1, 51 personnel were assigned to these fires. Because of minimal fire behavior and cooler, wetter weather conditions, command was transitioned to a Type 4 incident command on Sunday, August 29.

The Forest Service says wildfires burning on the Lolo Pass including the Lolo Creek Fire on the Missoula Ranger District in Montana and the BM Hill and Shotgun Fires on the Powell Ranger District in Idaho.

Road, trail and area closures were lifted on September 7, but visitors are urged to exercise caution, as some areas inside the burn may still be smoking and smoldering.

Jakes Gulch Fire

The Jake Gulch Fire was reported on Sunday, September 5. The fire is located 23 miles south of Stanley on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The fire is burning in lodgepole pine and subalpine fir. It is burning in very steep terrain. 

As of Thursday, September 9, the fire is estimated to be 380 acres. It is 10% contained. The cause is under investigation.

A virtual community meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, September 10. If you would like to attend, please email d50harve@blm.gov, by 6 p.m. Thursday.

More from September 9 update: The fire continues to back down towards Alturas Lake Creek Trail, being carried by heavy dead and down fuel. Boise and Black Mesa Hotshots continue to improve Alturas Creek Trail, while smokejumpers are working the ridgetop and the northern perimeter. Bucket drops were used to aid the ground efforts. Fire personnel continue to look at contingency options including improving roads, trails and natural barriers. A structure group is accessing structures as a precautionary measure.

Bow hunting for elk and antelope is open and for public and fire fighter safety please adhere to all closures and restrictions. 

Other information: A total of 135 fire personnel are assigned to the fire as of September 9. Aerial resources are being used to assist those working on the ground. Evacuation of campers and hikers is being conducted to ensure the safety of the public as well as fire personnel working on the fire. Here's a link to the map and closure area.

Mud Lick Fire

As of Thursday, September 9, the Mud Lick Fire, 22 miles west of Salmon, had burned 20,856 acres and was 70% contained. Just a few areas of heat remained, with smoldering and creeping.

One person was assigned to the fire as of September 9. The U.S. Forest Service continues to monitor the fire by air. Full containment is expected September 19.

The lightning-caused fire started July 8 and is burning in grass, brush, dead/down timber, and ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees on the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Scarface Fire

The lightning-caused fire, located 2 1/2 miles southeast of the Middle Fork Lodge in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, was first detected the evening of August 7.

As of Monday, Sept. 13, the Scarface Fire had burned 7,806 acres and was 20% contained. It merged with the Boundary Fire on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The Boundary and Scarface fires are now being managed as one incident.

Closures and restrictions: The Boundary Fire Area, Road, and Trail closure Order #04‐13‐21‐015 covers the area in and around the Scarface Fire. The purpose of this order is to protect public health and safety from the effects of the Boundary Fire.

A flight restriction is in place over the area as firefighters work. A map of the closures in the area can be found here.

Storm Theatre Complex

The Storm Theatre Complex consists of 26 lightning-caused backcountry fires, including the Storm Creek Fire, which is located about 9 miles southeast of Powell, Idaho. The fires in this complex are within a remote 815,000-acre roadless area north of U.S. Highway 12, east of the Clearwater River, south of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, south of the Lolo National Forest, and west of the Bitterroot National Forest.

As of Wednesday, September 1, the fires had burned 22,319 acres. Ten percent of the perimeter had been contained. The fires are being monitored, and point protection will be completed as necessary.

Many closures have been lifted or reduced. Please see the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests website for the latest closure information.

Updates on fires burning in the Idaho Panhandle and Eastern Washington are available here, courtesy of our sister station KREM in Spokane.

Fires burning in Oregon

Note: Some information regarding Oregon wildfires comes from our Portland affiliate KGW.

Cougar Peak Fire

The Cougar Peak Fire was discovered the afternoon of Tuesday, September 7, and is burning about 15 miles northwest of Lakeview on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Lakeview Ranger District.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management and the Incident Commander have identified areas for evacuations in the fire area.

Saturday, Sept. 11 update: The fire has burned 83,339 acres - more than 130 square miles. The cause is undetermined. Fire behavior was greatly reduced Friday, after about a quarter-inch of rain fell early in the morning. Creeping and smoldering was reported.

694 personnel are assigned to the Cougar Peak Fire. Firefighting operations are under the joint command of Northwest Incident Management Team 8 and the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Blue Team.

The fire's location is southeast of the Bootleg Fire that burned more than 646 square miles earlier this summer; some of the Bootleg Fire also burned on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Area residents and visitors are reminded that Public Use Restrictions are still in effect on that forest, as well as fire restrictions in effect on neighboring landscapes.

Fire danger remains “extreme” in Lake and Klamath counties.  Extremely dry fuels and seasonal winds can make even a small spark rapidly grow into a large wildfire.  These fires can be destructive, resulting in evacuations, damage to property and natural resources, and affects public and firefighter safety.

The predominant fuels for the Cougar Peak Fire are timber, dry climate brush and logging slash. Moisture content is at or near record lows.

Credit: Fremont-Winema National Forest
Two members of the Prineville Hotshots crew on the Cougar Peak Fire September 8, 2021, in Lake County, Oregon.

Black Butte Fire

Located about 25 miles south of Unity, Oregon, on the Malheur National Forest, the Black Butte Fire has burned 22,445 acres and was 95% contained as of the last incident update, which was September 1. Full containment was expected by the morning of Sunday, September 5.

The fire was first detected the morning of August 3. Lightning is believed to be the cause.

Bootleg Fire

The Bootleg Fire, in parts of Klamath and Lake counties, has burned 413,717 acres -- or more than 646 square miles, an area more than double the size of New York City. The fire's perimeter is now 100% contained, but the fire destroyed dozens of homes after a lightning strike started it in early July. As it grew over 39 days, smoke from the Bootleg complex could be seen and smelled across the U.S., all the way to the East Coast.

Major roads are now open again and all evacuations have been lifted.

RELATED: 'It's actually changing the weather': Bootleg Fire's 'extreme' behavior briefly forces firefighters to retreat Log Fire

A list of other fires burning in Oregon as well as in southeastern Washington state is available here.

Interactive maps of fires burning in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California:

Watch more on wildfires in the West:

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