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Crews hold Big Elk Fire at 80 acres

Firefighters worked throughout the weekend to stop the spread of several new fires that were started Friday by lightning south of U.S. Highway 12 in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.

Stephanie Israel, spokeswoman for the forests, said Sunday the Big Elk Fire north of Elk City has been limited to 80 acres. Fire managers were worried about this fire because of its proximity to Elk City and its location in the municipal watershed.

The Panther Fire along the Magruder Corridor also was caught early, Israel said, and held at three acres. Hunters are already beginning to enter this area to reach hunting sites by the Sept. 15 early rifle season.

Initial attack crews successfully extinguished about a dozen fires and are working to catch up on other new fires in the area.

The 11,513-acre Andy’s Hump Fire in the Moose Creek Ranger District has been folded into the Coolwater Complex of fires, which include the Glover Fire at 100 acres and the Old Man Fire at 650 acres. Management of this complex has been taken over by a Type 2 eastern area incident management team. Winds that were expected Sunday from the west created potential for increased fire activity. Firefighters are trying to build fire line around Lowell and help residents make their properties more secure.

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Other notable fires in the area include:

Hidden Fire in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which grew by 130 acres since Friday and is now 11,433 acres. Most of the activity is on the northwest border, where the fire crossed Big Sand Creek. Getting helicopter support remains the highest priority for this fire.

The Little Weitas Fire is at 117 acres, burning in heavy timber about a mile north of Little Weitas Butte. The Weitas Butte Lookout tower has been wrapped for protection.

The Pronghorn Fire is currently at 77 acres and burning in timber about three miles north of the Red River Hot Springs. Because of the potential for extreme fire behavior on this fire in steep terrain, there has been a limited number of fire fighters on the ground to make direct contact. An area closure is in effect.

On the Salmon River Ranger District, the Hanover Fire is estimated at 26,485 acres and is 88 percent contained, with most growth to the northwest. Helicopters, along with ground crews and heavy equipment, are working this fire.

In the Palouse Ranger District, the Strychnine Fire is holding at 1,010 acres, burning five miles northeast of Harvard. It is now 60 percent contained, and mop up will continue. The fire is being managed by a Type 3 incident team under the direction of the Idaho Department of Lands, and an area closure is in effect.