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Big Cougar Fire burning actively, evacuations issued

With the Big Cougar Fire burning actively and because of recent fire development, the following evacuations are in order.

Salmon River Zone:

Nez Perce County Sheriff issued a Stage 3 Evacuation Notice at 3 p.m. Friday for residents along the Salmon River from the confluence with the Snake River upstream to the Oxbow. Stage 3 means occupants of the area are asked to leave immediately.

Deer Eagle Zone:

Nez Perce County Sheriff issued a Stage 2 Evacuation Notice at 3 p.m. Friday for residents located in Eagle Creek and upper Deer Creek. Stage 2 means residents are advised to prepare to evacuate at a moment's notice. People requiring extra care and those needing to move livestock should take necessary steps immediately.

For further information please refer to the Big Cougar Fire Incident Population Protection Plan and corresponding map.

The Big Cougar Fire was lightning caused and is burning 24 miles south of Lewiston. It is 15 percent contained and has grown to about 46,000 acres. Six structures have been lost and 200 are threatened. Structure protection is ongoing.

Crews worked Thursday and through the night to complete a burnout operation along approximately eight miels of constructed fireline (containment line) north of the fire (Wapshilla Ridge to Captain John Rapids on the Snake River). The burnout operation was supported by helicopters and engines drowning hot spots outside the line with water. On the sourtheaster portion of the fire (Ealge Creek area), a dozer was used to construct approximately two miels of fireline between China Creek and Eagle Creek. Firefighters assessed opportunities to continue this fireline southeast to the Salmon River. Helicopters continued dipping out of the Snake and Salmon Rivers, using water drops to cool hot spots. In addition to the five structures lost along the Snake River, one structure was burned along the Salmon River. An evening public meeting was held in the community of Waha with approximately 250 local residents in attendance.

The number of firefighters on the incident is 454. Resources assigned include fifteen crews, four helicopters, four engines, three dozers and support personnel.

Predicted weather for Friday includes an increase in cloud cover and isolated thunderstorms. This will likely cause a slight decrease in temperature and increase in relative humidity. In addition, winds will be out of the southwest, pushing fire spread to the north/northeast. Burnout operations will continue north of the fire, from Captain John Rapids south along the Snake River. This will cause smoke to remain in the area. Planning and implementation of fireline construction on the southeastern portion of the fire will continue.

Shawn Pearson, Northern Rockies Type II Incident Management Team is coordinating fire fighting efforts. The fire is in the jurisdiction of the Idaho Department of Lands Craig Mountain Fire Protection District. Cooperating agencies include: United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Nez Perce Tribe, The Nature Conservancy, and Nez Perce County.

For further information, visit: www.inciweb.nwcg.gov; Select "Big Cougar"

Please contact the Big Cougar Fire Information Line, (208) 924-5009 or (208) 924-5013, for questions or additional information.

Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: (208) 476-0733
Fax: (208) 476-4140