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Pioneer Fire increases to 38,072 acres

Posted at 9:42 AM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 20:54:28-04

The Pioneer Fire, burning in dense wilderness some eight miles near Idaho City, has increased to 38,072 acres, according to Boise National Forest officials.

“The wind, heat, and low relative humidity (over the weekend) combined into perfect conditions for burning and produced increased fire activity,” said a Boise National Forest news release.

Officials say the fire is still only 30 percent contained.

Personnel totals increased to 1,282 people.  Other resources remained relatively the same -- with 32 crews, 10 helicopters, 48 engines, 8 dozers, 13 water-tenders, and 5 masticators.

“The fire made some significant gains, especially on the eastern flank, in the area between Banner Creek and Willow Creek. The increased fire activity pushed firefighters out of the area to adjoining divisions where they engaged in suppression efforts,” the release said. “The fire also made a run to the south/southeast into the Big Owl Creek area, which forced firefighters to use the dozer line from Highway 21 to Sunset Lookout as a containment line. When the wind shifted out of the southwest, firefighters took the opportunity to conduct a burnout operation along the Sunset Lookout Road.

“Crews took advantage of this favorable wind to burn throughout the night simultaneously, north from the lookout and south from Mores Creek Summit with the intent of meeting in the middle near Steep Creek. Their effort was stalled when the wind stopped, but they plan to complete the burnout operation Monday to secure the stretch of line from Pilot Peak to Sunset Lookout and stop the southern progression of the fire,” the release stated.

The fire remained active along the entire northern perimeter, but its slow movement north allowed firefighters to continue preparing contingency lines for future use.  Crews and heavy equipment moved north along Burns Ridge constructing contingency line toward Lowman.

Crews also continued constructing contingency lines along Hwy. 21, south from Lowman to the 385 road and east toward Archie Mountain.

Crews supported burnout operations through the night.

Aircraft use was heavy and consistent throughout the day and was instrumental in support of firefighters.

The west side of the fire remains calm, but resources on the ground and in the air are still monitoring and patrolling, offocials said.

Firefighters plan to strengthen and hold containment lines Monday and will evaluate possible courses of action for future lines -- including any roads, natural barriers and old burn scars that will aid in slowing the fire’s progress.

As the fire approaches the Sloper Mine, firefighters are planning burnout operations to strengthen the line along Burns Ridge. Field observers are actively looking for opportunities to cross Rock Creek to the east and begin corralling the fire’s progress.

Hot and dry conditions will prevail again Monday.

Smoke will likely again be visible from great distances. 

Fire personnel face additional hazards on the fireline, including old mining sites.

Long term contingency planning is ongoing and managers are coordinating all actions in order to ensure firefighter and public safety.

The area closure order for the fire can be viewed online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/boise/alerts-notices and at inciweb.nwcg.gov. Information is also available at https://www.facebook.com/Pioneer-Fire-682201165260518/ or at pioneerfire2016@gmail.com.

About ninety people attended the community meeting held in Idaho City Sunday, as crews briefed townspeople on the fire’s status.