More than 25 acres of standing wheat was burned in a fire at the top of the Lewiston Grade Friday evening, and additional structure losses and other disruptions are currently being assessed.
Randall Phelps, fire information officer for the Idaho Department of Lands, reported that the Mile Marker 319 fire east of U.S. Highway 95 at the top of the grade burned about 166 acres. The fire was reported at 7:30 p.m. and was contained within a few hours. Mop-up operations continued Saturday.
Communications services were disrupted by the fire. Inland Cellular spokesman Jeff Boyer reported that the fire “took out all of the transformers,” resulting in a widespread network outage. Inland Cellular crews were working to restore service Saturday.
A power outage for Avista customers in the Genesee area was reported Friday night but was restored by Saturday morning. It was not immediately clear what caused the outage, and Avista did not provide further information.
Phelps said the Mile Marker 319 fire was attacked by the Idaho Department of Lands, the Nez Perce Tribe fire department, the U.S. Forest Service and rural fire departments from Latah, Nez Perce and Whitman counties and the Idaho State Police.
Additional support was provided by McGregor and Wilbur Ellis, who are local farmers. No evacuations were required. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
A red flag warning was in effect throughout the region Saturday because of the low relative humidity and winds gusting up to 23 miles per hour.
Campfires outside of a permanent structure are prohibited and smoking also is off-limits except within an enclosed vehicle, building or designated recreation site.
Elsewhere in the region, the Goose Rapids Fire, located 21 miles south of Lewiston near Wild Goose Rapids on the Snake River, is estimated at 1200 acres. The fire is estimated to be 75 percent contained.
Firefighters are working to protect residences and other structures from Corral Creek to Dough Creek. Zaza Road is closed at Deer Creek Road and the Zaza Road intersection. Three structures have been lost so far.
Firefighting agencies working on the blaze include the Idaho Department of Lands, the U.S. Forest Service, the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association and Nez Perce County Emergency Management Services.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
A red flag warning is also in effect for the Rattlesnake Creek Fire near mile marker 184 on U.S. Highway 95 south of Riggins.
The fire is estimated at 4,648 acres and is 42 percent contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Extreme heat Friday, low humidity levels and unstable wind conditions increased the fire activity in the Lockwood drainage. Heavy helicopters dropped water to cool the hottest spots while single-engine air tankers dropped loads of retardant on ridge lines. The fire made uphill runs Friday and torching trees caused spotting ahead of the fire. It has moved into the Fall Creek drainage and residents in the Hillman Basin area have been warned to “Be Set” in case an evacuation becomes necessary in the coming days.
Structure protection efforts will continue in the Hillman Basin and Boulder Creek areas along with private property in the Pollock, Pinehurst and Whitewater Wilderness Ranch Estates areas. Residents there also have been advised to “Be Set,” meaning being prepared to evacuate should the situation worsen.
Travelers along U.S. Highway 95 are advised to observe posted speed limits near the fire and be aware of increased fire traffic.