The fire that forced closure of several roads in the popular Cape Horn recreation area north of Idaho 21 grew from 60 acres to 3,700 acres, after actively burning overnight.
The Forest Service is focusing on protecting Stanley's summer recreation trade, but said, "this is not a fire that will be put out soon or put out easily," according to a strategy summary released Tuesday morning. "We will manage this fire to minimize effects on the economy of Stanley, attempt to keep it from spreading to high-value assets in the area, and to keep our firefighters and the public as safe as we can."
Two more Forest Service campgrounds Marsh Creek Transfer and Josephus Lake were added to the closure list by the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The fire is about 20 miles northwest of Stanley. The closure, which also includes trails, is just east of the Boundary Creek launch area for trips on the Middle Fork Salmon River in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
The fire was started Friday by lightning. A crew of 14 smokejumpers fought the blaze Saturday and Sunday, before officials, including Salmon-Challis Forest Supervisor Frank Guzman decided fighting the fire at close range was too dangerous. "The safety zone on the fire was small and the escape route off the fire was tenuous," says the summary. "In addition to operations, logistics and medical evacuation were dependent on helicopters."
The smokejumpers retreated Sunday afternoon. The new strategy is to contain the fire between Beaver Creek Road and Marsh Creek, one of two major tributaries of the Middle Fork Salmon. Firefighters will "accept fire growth to the north into the Wilderness and into areas of sparse fuel taking advantage of opportunities to check the fire's growth," says the summary.
On Tuesday, about 90 firefighters are working to build fuel breaks and the Bonneville Hotshots are fighting a spot fire north of the Pinyon Peak/Seafoam Junction. A helicopter continues to drop water and a National Incident Management Organization will take command of the fire Wednesday.
In addition to the new campground closures, four other Forest Service campgrounds north of Idaho 21 were closed Monday: Beaver Creek, Beaver Creek Camp Spur, Lola Creek and Lola Camp Spur A. The private Bradley Memorial Boy Scout Camp was closed earlier.
The closure area includes all access points to the Cape Horn area; the Seafoam Bubble, an historic mining area; and the Church Wilderness, east of the Middle Fork Wild and Scenic River Corridor.
The intensity of the fire was reduced in the area of the 1998 Laidlow Fire. So far, the Marsh Creek drainage has not burned.