Grassy Ridge fire grows to 162 square miles

The Grassy Ridge Fire is now 162 square miles. It is 20 percent contained and 191 fire personnel are battling the blaze.

The fire is burning through grass, sage brush and scattered pinion juniper stands.

Sunday afternoon into early evening fire crews completed firing/burning operations and completion of containment lines in the northwest section of the fire. Fire crews continued to secure and patrol the lines until midnight. A contingent of engines remained the rest of the night to patrol the lines to ensure they were holding.

Along the rest of the fire, crews walked and “cold-trailed” many miles of containment line and the numerous active fingers of fire activity. Cold-Trailing is where fire fighters physically walk the containment lines and search for pockets of heat and put them out for a depth towards the interior of the fire to ensure that it is cold and black in depth to ensure that no errant sparks can be fanned to life by the wind and tossed across containment lines to start a new fire.

About 150 people attended a public meeting Sunday night in Dubois regarding the Grassy Ridge Fire. Team 3 Operations Chief Mike Friend provided an overview of the current fire situation and short term plans for continued suppression activities. Agency Administrator Jeremy Casterson (BLM), Incident Commander Taiga Rohrer, and Clark County Sheriff Bart May addressed the group. A 30-minute Q & A was provided. Questions ranged from thanking agencies for the their efforts to concerns on how suppression efforts were being implemented. Overall the community was supportive of all efforts to manage the incident. It was evident that the local community was very involved in preparing for fire season but still needed to improve coordination in the community.

The firefighting effort involved three crews, 15 engines, five bulldozers, six water tenders, three helicopters and 191 total personnel 191.

The weather picture for today and Tuesday can be summed up in three words, “hotter and drier.” Temperatures are forecast to be fix to six degrees warmer today with humidity down to 10 percent. This may result in a little stronger than normal afternoon winds out of the south at 10-12 mph. The impact on the light, flashy fuels may result in numerous flareups and the appearance of interior smoke columns as islands of unburnt fuels are consumed.

These “islands” are one of the priorities as efforts to secure and “cold-trail” fire containment lines continue. As the containment lines are ensured firefighters will be turning their efforts towards construction of containment lines and cold-trailing them around the multiple islands or pockets of unburnt fuels which are not only existing portions of the cattle allotments as well as habitat for Sage Grouse and winter forage/habitat for big game.

Air Quality: For information on wildfire smoke the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has a fact sheet that can be found at: http://www.deq.idaho.gov/air-quality/burning/wildland-fires/

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