Firefighters continued making progress against the Steptoe Canyon fire Saturday, with containment now as much as 20 percent, up from 10 percent on Friday, according to the fire’s management team.
The area burned in the steep, dry drainage did increase, however, from just more than 2,000 acres to 2,700 acres.
The Southeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team reported moderate fire activity, mostly in pockets with heavy fuels. Another 20-person hand crew arrived at the lightning-caused fire to assist, checking the fire’s perimeter for smoke and heat. Steptoe Canyon Road from Rimrock Road to the Snake River remains closed, according to a news release.
Another incident caused by lightning, the Cougar Rock complex of fires burning about 30 miles from Orofino, stood at 5,972 acres Saturday, with 25 percent containment. An inversion that had inundated Orofino with smoke from the fires over the past few weeks lifted Friday afternoon, causing increased fire activity, according to the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team in charge of the fires.
The Elbow Creek Fire burning southwest of Troy, Ore., had consumed 21,928 acres as of Saturday morning, with 25 percent containment, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team. Overnight operations were successful, with no substantial growth of the fire observed, according to a news release. Eight helicopters, including two Blackhawks from the Oregon National Guard, are now assigned to assist firefighters.
Southwest of Asotin, the Lick Creek fire grew slightly to 78,158 acres, an increase of about 2,000 acres. The fire is 75 percent contained, according to a joint news release from the agencies assisting on the fire. Firefighters continue to patrol the perimeter of the fire looking for hot spots and mopping up as needed around the southern edge.
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests reported two new fires Saturday, although initial attack activity Friday was light. As of Friday, forest administration is managing 37 active fires, six of which are contained, 20 that are being attacked and nine that are being evaluated for further action.
Those concerned about public land closures in the area may call the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests Fire Information hotline at (208) 494-1661 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily for general forest closure questions and general fire information questions.