Wildfire updates: Gold Hill fire growth prompts community meeting

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The Gold Hill fire burns Wednesday night. (Photo by Brandon Puckett/Pucktography)

Gold Hill fire

A community meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, following two days in which the Gold Hill fire grew from 1,166 acres on Tuesday to 1,920 acres Thursday morning, when containment was reported at one percent.

A pre-evacuation order was issued Monday by Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for properties along and near Pipe Creek Road between mile markers 11 and 13.

The fire, caused by lightning on Aug. 11, had been mostly north and west of Noisy Creek, according to a noon Thursday incident report, but recently “made its way into Noisy Creek on the south and east sides of the fire perimeter.”

“The fire continued to creep and back along Noisy Creek drainage for most of [Wednesday],” the report continues. “Firefighters started conducting firing operations on the southeast side of the fire working towards the south.”

Late Wednesday, firefighters halted suppression efforts for an unspecified amount of time after “the fire made a run out of Noisy Creek on the southeast side of the fire,” the report states.

On Thursday, crews were to “continue to prepare defensible space and plumb the indirect line around residences along [Pipe Creek Road]” and “putting in water lines where dozer line has been established.”

Fire weather was expected to be mild Thursday.

The Forest Service has imposed numerous closures in the area of the fire, including trails, roads and the Big Creek Baldy Lookout. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/kootenai or call 406-283-7693.

Last night’s meeting was held in the Ponderosa Room, next to City Hall, after The Western News went to press. An agenda was not provided in advance.

Davis fire

The Davis fire was 6,452 acres and 12 percent contained Thursday morning.

“[Thursday], warm temperatures, low humidity, and ridgetop winds may result in increased fire activity,” states an incident report. “If visibility conditions allow, aircraft will put retardant on the southwestern flank and water bucket drops on the east flank as needed to help cool hot spots and slow spread.”

Low visibility due to smoke Wednesday afternoon forced air operations to cease after only two retardant drops. The same dense smoke had moderated fire behavior earlier in the day, though “several hot spots were still present around the fire, westerly wind caused increased fire activity along the eastern flank of the fire in the Jungle Creek drainage, and the fire continued to spread slowly along the southwestern edge, east of Hawkins Lakes.”

Also on Thursday, the removal of fuels on the southern dozer line was expected to be almost completed, and heavy equipment was to continue both improving the indirect line east of the fire perimeter and constructing the shaded fuel break and contingency line along Forest Service Road 5886.

Tenmile, Sterling Complex fires

The Tenmile fire was holding steady at 681 acres Thursday and had increased to 93 percent containment, while the Sterling Complex had grown slightly to 1,265 acres with containment improving from 23 percent Monday to 34 percent, an incident reports states.

“On Wednesday, the weather permitted ideal conditions to burn a small stand of regenerated trees in the southwestern flank of the Pinkham Tower fire,” the report states. “This effort completes the burning operation needed in this section. Firefighters will now focus on the next critical portion, the north central area, where the fires are growing together. Closing this gap ensures the containment line constructed by equipment holds against wind, falling snags and other threats that may threaten the line.”

A three-acre “finger of fire” on the northwest edge of the Huckleberry fire “is causing challenges for firefighters,” who are set to perform a burn in the area “to connect that finger to the main body of the fire to ensure it does not grow,” the report states.

However, “weather conditions have so far not permitted this activity.”

Pre-evacuation orders remain in effect for residents near Edna Creek, Lake Creek, Sutton Ridge and Swamp Creek roads.

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