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Moose Fire, Idaho's largest of 2022, has burned more than 200 square miles

The Moose Fire is 51% contained as of Monday, Sept. 26. It started July 17 in a dispersed camping area in Lemhi County.

SALMON, Idaho —

Growth on the Moose Fire burning northwest of Salmon has been minimal, allowing crews to continue suppression efforts on the southeast flank of the fire, Salmon-Challis National Forest officials said Sunday. Fire officials on Monday announced that investigators have determined the specific cause of the fire: a campfire left smoldering some time the night of July 16 or the morning of July 17.

A community meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26, at the Idaho Fish & Game Office at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will also be filmed and posted to the Salmon-Challis National Forest Facebook page for those not able to make the meeting in person.

The weather is expected to be dry with moderate temperatures over the next few days; lighter winds are also anticipated. Crews will take advantage of the conditions to work on hot spots on the southeastern portion of the fire, where smoldering behavior is expected.

On Friday, crews began assessing potential strategies for adding more containment around the interior edge of the fire south of Jackass Ridge.

Saturday's weather saw reduced relative humidity as drier weather continues to move into the area. Fire crews saw slower wind speeds and moderate temperatures that kept the fire's activity limited to creeping and smoldering over the weekend. 

The Moose Fire has burned an estimated 130,110 acres and is 51% contained as of Monday, Sept. 26. The fire area is more than double the combined area of the Boise and Garden City city limits.

Firefighter Gerardo Rincon passed on Sept. 20, while fighting the fire out in the field due to a medical emergency; on Saturday, Sept. 24, a processional was held to take Ricon to the airport to be flown home. The Salmon-Challis National Forest expressed their condolences to Rincon's family, friends, and colleagues, as he made the final journey.

Regarding evacuations, most zones of the fire area are now in "READY," or Level 1, status. It's the lowest level, but it also means people in those areas should prepare to evacuate if conditions change. Zone 1 near the southeastern portion of the fire is in "SET" status, meaning people should be all set to leave at a moment's notice if necessary. There are no longer any "GO" notices in effect. Click here for evacuation updates from the Lemhi County Sheriff's Office.

Air quality for the Lemhi Valley, as measured from the Salmon station, is expected to be "good" (green) Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16-18, with conditional restrictions on outdoor burning all three days. Idaho DEQ air quality forecasts for the area are posted here.

For more information about hunting units in the area, visit the Idaho Fish and Game fire map.

Closure and alternate route information are posted in this modified closure order issued Monday, Sept. 19.

Investigators have determined the Moose Fire was human-caused, but the specific circumstances as to how it started remain under investigation.

635 firefighters are fighting the Moose Fire, which is burning grass, brush and timber -- much of it dead and downed fuel. It started near the confluence of Moose Creek and the Salmon River.

Moose Fire September 16, 2022 Operations Update

#MooseFire and #owlfire Operations Update for September 16, 2022 Planning Operations Section Chief Matt Call has the latest on the Moose Fire and the Owl Fire in this Operations Update. Moose Fire: 130,079 Acres 50% Contained 857 Personnel Owl Fire: 747 Acres 0% Contained 44 Personnel

Posted by U.S. Forest Service - Salmon-Challis National Forest on Friday, September 16, 2022

A helicopter accident that occurred the afternoon of July 20 on the Moose Fire is under investigation. Both pilots on board were killed, the Lemhi County County Sheriff's Office confirmed Friday. They were identified as Thomas Hayes, 41, of Post Falls, Idaho, and Jared Bird, 36, of Anchorage, Alaska. 

The sheriff's office said they died after being extricated and taken to medical facilities. An online fundraiser in Hayes's honor has been created to help his father pay for a funeral and to make a donation to the Boise-based Wildland Firefighter Foundation in his memory. An online fundraiser for Bird's family is also underway. GoFundMe has verified both fundraisers.

The Central Dispatch Zone, which includes the Salmon-Challis National Forest, was at "Very High" fire danger as of August 22. Stage 1 fire restrictions implemented for the area on July 26 remain in effect.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions

The following acts are prohibited on state and federally managed or protected lands, roads, and trails: 

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire or stove fire except within a designated recreation site and in a permanent concrete or metal fire ring, or on private land, and only within an owner-provided structure. 
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, building, or designated recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials. 

The following are exemptions to the Stage 1 Fire Restrictions: 

  • Persons with a written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act. 
  • Persons using fire fueled solely by liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas (LPG) fuels. Such devices, including propane campfires, may be used only in an area cleared of flammable material. 
  • Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice. 
  • Any federal, state, or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty. 
  • All land within a city boundary is exempted.

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