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Pioneer Fire continues to grow; more than 42,000 acres now burned

Posted at 9:59 AM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 19:46:12-04

The weather continues to be hot, dry, and windy near the Pioneer Fire -- which has resulted in thousands of additional acres, burning in rugged wilderness roughly eight miles north of Idaho City, and now less than three miles south of Lowman.

According to the Boise National Forest, the fire has now burned 42,030 acres and is only 28 percent contained. 1,423 fire personnel remain on scene.

Officials are urging residents to visit http://www.boisecounty.us/ to sign up for emergency alerts via text, e-mail and phone.

A community meeting is scheduled Wednesday, August 3, at 7:00p.m. at the Lowman Emergency Services building, seven miles east of Lowman on Highway 21.

Other resources remained relatively the same with 39 crews, 10 helicopters, 51 engines, 8 dozers, 13 water tenders, and 5 masticators.

Personnel on the Pioneer Fire completed burnout operations along the Sunset Lookout Road that began on Sunday. Dozer activities and aerial operations continued along the north flank. New crews began arriving to replace crews who are gradually departing, after fighting the fire for fourteen days. Fire managers continued to shift resources to optimize their effectiveness.

Firefighters built a containment line on the west flank and the area is in patrol status.  Favorable winds enabled hand crews to complete a burnout operation from north of Mores Creek Summit to Sunset Lookout. This operation secured the stretch of line from Sunset Lookout to Pilot Peak and strengthened the south flank of the fire line that protects Idaho City. The fire moved into the old scars of two previous fires, which slowed the fire’s progress. The 1994 Rabbit Creek scar along the southeast flank of the fire, and the 1989 Lowman scar to the northeast, will slow the fire as it moves to the east, according to a Boise National Forest news release.

Aerial slurry and water drops, combined with dozer and hand crew work, minimized the fire’s spread toward Lowman.

Firefighters conducted a burnout on the east side of Burns Ridge, and began plans to create a fire line to Highway 21. It has been confirmed that the Skyline yurt and an outbuilding of Stargaze yurt have been destroyed by the fire.

The highest priority is to construct a fire line across Rock Creek to slow the north growth of the fire. Numerous helicopters will support the firefighters there, officials said, along with crews arriving from newly contained areas of the fire. Helitack operations will assist the line-building.

Strong winds are expected Tuesday, which could shift the fire unpredictably. Plus, no precipitation is expected until Saturday, as hot and dry conditions continue.

Fire managers will create flexible plans that match firefighting techniques with the shifting humidity, moisture and wind conditions. They also are coordinating long-term contingency plans to ensure firefighter and public safety, while setting in motion plans for the forest’s recovery.

The Boise National Forest has ordered Stage 1 fire restrictions that limit the possibility of starting a wildfire. The area closure order can be viewed at fs.usda.gov/alerts/boise/alerts-notices and inciweb.nwcg.gov.