Jul. 22—As the Type 1 Northern Rockies National Incident Management Team 2 prepares to hand over management of the Dixie-Jumbo fires located about 40 miles southeast of Grangeville, they leave the threatened communities of Dixie and Comstock intact, even though the fire is only 10 percent contained.
Kristy Deyoung, a public information spokeswoman for the fire management team, said Wednesday the transition in management is because the team's assignment has timed out and the complexity of reining in the blaze is dropping down. After a brief rest, firefighters will likely head to another of the several infernos scorching the West this summer.
"We're in a transition period and we're not sure who we're handing the fire off to, but ... the incoming team will have different resources and probably go from a Type 1 to a Type 3," Deyoung said.
The Dixie-Jumbo complex started July 5 from lightning and has so far burned more than 29,000 acres. Deyoung said the cooler temperatures and higher humidity Tuesday kept the fire from spreading much but is burning in mixed confer and lodgepole stands and grass on steep terrain that is difficult to access.
Because of that, she added, firefighters are not developing a direct line all around the fire perimeter but instead are focusing on keeping the flames away from the communities of Dixie, Comstock, the Forest Service No. 222 Road and other structures along the Salmon River.
So far, no structures have been burned.
When the teams change hands, the 439 personnel currently assigned to the Dixie-Jumbo fire will possibly be downsized.
"The number of firefighters will depend on what resources the incoming team needs," Deyoung said. Throughout a team's assignment, firefighters who have fulfilled their full 14-day shifts will move in and out of service and be replaced by other firefighters.
"Not everybody will time out at the same time," Deyoung said. "So all throughout the fire, we've had crews coming and going. It's just going to depend on the folks coming in behind."
Temperatures were expected to increase slightly Wednesday and bring gusty winds to the area, which could affect the fire's growth. An updated report will be released early today.
In other fire news around the area:
The Cougar Rock Complex that started by lightning July 7 in steep terrain about 30 miles north of Orofino was burning 4,874 acres Wednesday and is 23 percent contained. The complex is composed of 14 separate fires. Some rain fell on the area Tuesday but not enough to make an impact on fire activity. Fire crews are waiting for conditions that will allow them to safely and efficiently burn out unburned fuels between the fire's edge and containment lines.
The Snake River Complex 20 miles south of Lewiston has burned 107,560 acres and is 74 percent contained. Firefighters have established more depth on control lines to make them more secure and have increased containment. Drones dropped plastic spheres that ignite upon impact in the interior unburned pockets of vegetation, and firefighters continued to mop up along the fire line and search for pockets of heat. Night operation crews have finished their final shift and will transition to other assignments following required rest.
The Granite Pass Complex located near Powell on the Lolo and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is composed of four fires and currently burning 2,108 acres with zero containment.
Fire behavior was expected to be relatively quiet Wednesday although crews were watching for spotting and crowning of trees. Showers and thunderstorms also were expected with wind gusts between 10 and 25 miles per hour.
For the safety of firefighters and the public a 45 mph speed limit has been posted from Spring Gulch Road to Lolo Pass because of heavy traffic from fire crews in the area.
There will be a community meeting at 7 p.m. Friday at the Lolo Elementary School. The meeting also will be available on the Granite Pass Complex Facebook page.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation warning from Lolo Pass to Lolo Hot Spring and deputies will be notifying residents and travelers along U.S. Highway 12 of the warning.
On the Lick Creek/Dry Gulch Fire 15 miles southeast of Pomeroy the perimeter to the north and east along the South Fork of Asotin Creek and Peola Road is contained and remains in a patrol status. Fire activity has been minimal and crews are mopping up and further securing containment lines. There have been no spots outside the line for the past few days.
The fire has burned 73,528 acres and is considered 45 percent contained. There are 429 personnel assigned to the fire.
The Lynx Fire is burning about 152 acres and is located 23 miles east of Elk City. Firefighters have established structure protection at an outfitter camp and bridge.
The Snow Fire 15 miles east-northeast of Kamiah is holding steady at 600 acres.
The Storm Creek fire, located 9 miles southeast of Powell, is burning 3,522 acres. A 10-person Wildland Fire Module is assigned to this fire and working on structure protection and site preparation.
The Bar Creek fire located 20 miles northeast of Headquarters is burning 475 acres.
The Leland Complex, composed of three fires in Latah County, is burning 2,950 acres and is 25 percent contained.
Hedberg may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 983-2326.