Air quality across Idaho Tuesday was rated green, or good, by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
That’s a big improvement for some parts of the state, which suffered under very unhealthy conditions over the weekend. Moscow, Lewiston and Grangeville was listed in the red, or unhealthy, category Saturday.
The real-time monitoring gauges Tuesday indicate that wildfire smoke is still impacting Lewiston, Cottonwood, Grangeville and Idaho Falls. Forecasts for Wednesday call for good air quality through most of the state, with yellow, or moderate, air quality in Grangeville.
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The Tepee Springs Fire grew from 86,449 acres Monday to 91,423 acres Tuesday. It is 30 percent contained.
Winds picked up Monday night, causing fire behavior to increase. The fire is burning actively in the northern perimeter areas and is expected to continue to burn to the north and east.
Firefighters are constructing fire lines to slow fire progression towards Riggins and the Highway 95 corridor; their focus is to keep the fire off the highway. It is currently about 3 miles from the town.
On Tuesday, firefighters worked to secure the southwestern and southeastern flanks of the fire, and new resources will focus on the northwestern portion. Firefighters will continue to work on structure protection along the Salmon River corridor and work to keep fire south of the river in the French Creek area. Crews will continue structure protection in the historic mining town of Florence.
About 838 personnel are working the blaze.
Firefighters have worked closely with local police agencies to escort rafters from the Vinegar Creek take-out to Riggins as fire behavior and road conditions allows.
Officials with the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest closed all Forest Service-managed lands except those in the Palouse Ranger District. Roads remain open for recreational users leaving the forest.
In the Payette National Forest, lands near the fire are closed, including the Hazard, Grouse and Last Chance campgrounds. No public access is allowed past the junction of Brundage Reservoir and Goose Lake Road (Forest Road 257). Additionally all Forest Service land west of Brundage Road to the forest boundary in the Meadows Valley are closed.
In North Idaho, a group of blazes now dubbed the Clearwater-Municipal-Motorway North Complex that earlier destroyed 42 homes near Kamiah is now 75 percent contained at about 130 square miles.
Due to hazardous conditions, large portions of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest have been shut down to public use. Recreational users have been asked to move out.
The Rapid Fire 12 miles southeast of McCall increased has burned 7,483 acres as of Tuesday. It spread into the Buckhorn Mountain Lake area and continued northeast into the Buckhorn Creek drainage. As it headed east, the lightning-caused fire crossed the South Fork of Buckhorn Creek.
It remains at 40 percent contained. About 165 firefighters are battling the blaze, assisted by five helicopters dropping water on the flames.
The Campbells Fire was reported at 7,648 acres Tuesday in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness southeast of Dixie. A forest closure order is in effect. The fire includes Burnt Knob and is showing the most growth in upper Trout Creek and onto Highline Ridge.
The 1,237-acre Cougar Fire, about 20 miles northeast of Cascade in Valley County, is about 95 percent contained. Efforts Tuesday focused on mop-up and rehabilitation.
The Elevenmile Fire 15 miles west of Challis has burned 9,641 acres and was 10 percent contained Monday. The fire is backing down to the south of Squaw Creek. Firefighters will spend several shifts in the steep, heavily timbered area to construct hand lines.
The northern perimeter is expected to continue to burn toward the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. That area is filled with a heavy supply of dead timber and is too steep for firefighters to work in. It will be monitored by air and allowed to burn as no structures are at risk.
Several roads, including Bayhorse, Trealor Creek, Squaw Creek and Kinnikinic Creek roads, along with a portion of Custer Motor Way, are closed. The Mill Creek and Mosquito Flat campgrounds are also closed.
RED CROSS SHELTERS
The Red Cross of Greater Idaho has shelters and disaster teams on standby in Kamiah, Kooski and Riggins, the nonprofit reported Monday. That means that the shelters are not currently open, but can open if evacuations merit it again.
Other Red Cross teams are heading to “other vulnerable locations” in case shelters or disaster teams are needed, with details to be released later, Anna Fernandez-Gevaert, regional communications director, wrote in an email.