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Bear Creek Fire grows to 8,500 acres, 20% contained

Bear Creek Fire Aerial view of burn out operations on north flank of fire 8:17:2020. Credit- Greg Schenk, NR Team 5 Division Supervisor
Greg Schenk, NR Team 5 Division Supervisor
Aerial view of burn out operations on north flank of fire 8/17/2020.

LEMHI COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The lightning-caused Bear Creek Fire that started August 11 on the Lemhi Pass area (29 miles East of Salmon Idaho) has burned 8,500 acres and is 20% contained.

Portions of Montana saw increased smoke and haze, as smoke from several fires in California dispersed and circulated north Thursday.

Fire behavior was relatively quiet, with single tree torching and surface fire in the areas with heavy dead and downed fuels.

On the northwest side, the fire continued to back down into the Bear Creek drainage.

Crews on the north flank continued to reinforce and hold the
line, taking advantage of conditions favorable for additional burnout operations to clean up residual fuels.

To the west, heavy equipment completed work to connect line from the 515 road to the Continental Divide; hand crews followed and reinforced the equipment line. On the south flank, crews continued to improve the fuel break to the Continental Divide. Due to smoked-in conditions, aerial support was somewhat limited. A helicopter and several resources assisted with a new fire start near Polaris.

On Friday, crews will work to improve the line on the 1883 road on the southern flank, reinforcing and improving a more “direct” line closer to the active edge of the fire. To the north, crews will hold and secure line along the 6869 road. If conditions are favorable, they will continue with burnout operations further to the west along the ridges, utilizing aerial ignition if smoke and wind conditions allow. On the northwest side of the fire, hand crews will improve and reinforce the machine fuel break to the Continental Divide. Gusty winds and smokey conditions could again limit air operations.

Public and firefighter safety concerns are the top priority. Any public using the roads near the fire area should expect heavy fire traffic; please drive slowly for safety reasons. Hunters should check Inciweb and/or call for closure information and maps.

The fire is burning in timber/heavy fuels. These fuels will continue to dry out with low relative humidity. The area provides poor access and there is a lack of water in the immediate area of the fire. Crews will work to protect cultural and natural resources and other values at risk.

Area, road, and trail closures are in effect. Lemhi Pass Road is closed from its junction with Montana Highway 324 to Lemhi Pass. The public is strongly encouraged to refrain from entering the area/nearby road system due to heavy fire traffic.

There are no official evacuation orders associated with the fire.

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