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Moose Fire, Idaho's largest of 2022, now 80% contained

The Moose Fire has burned more than 200 square miles since July 17, when it started after a campfire was left unextinguished in a camping area in Lemhi County.

SALMON, Idaho —

Containment on the Moose Fire burning northwest of Salmon remains at 80% and fire activity continues to be minimal, Salmon-Challis National Forest officials said the morning of Sunday, Oct. 9.

The fire's estimated size remains at 130,111 acres. The fire area is more than double the combined area of the Boise and Garden City city limits.

The Salmon Challis National Forest has a closure order in place to help protect firefighter and public safety. This closure will be lifted on Friday October 14th.

Weather conditions are expected to be warm and dry, but overnight moisture has helped keep fire activity minimal. Officials expect smoke visibility will increase throughout the weekend due to the above-average temperatures.

Firefighters continue to mop up and patrol the Salmon River Road area and address hot spots across the fire area. Crews are also working to return unburned portions of the fire area to pre-fire conditions.

Fire crews have been able to complete nearly 70% of the repair points in and around the fire as of Sunday, with the Ridge Road and the Leesburg Road repairs being to most recent projects completed.

Repair work will continue along Williams Creek and Stormy Peak roads and crews will remove equipment around Moose Meadows.

Firefighters have also succeeded in protecting the Leesburg townsite and cemetery, deemed important cultural resources. Leesburg Cemetery is the site of about a dozen marked graves from the 1860s. Those gravesites were wrapped with aluminized structure wrap to protect them in case the fire made it to the area.

The Leesburg Cemetery, site of around a dozen marked graves from the 1860s, is an important cultural resource on the...

Posted by U.S. Forest Service - Salmon-Challis National Forest on Monday, October 3, 2022

All BLM-managed lands in the closure area east of the Fairgrounds/Diamond Creek Road, including Morgan Bar Campground, are open again. However, public lands north of Salmon, south of Wallace Creek and west of the Fairgrounds/Diamond Creek Road will remain temporarily closed to the public.

Stage 1 fire restrictions are no longer in effect for the Salmon-Challis National Forest. Those restrictions ended Thursday.

Fire officials on Sept. 26 announced that investigators have determined the specific cause of the fire: a campfire left smoldering some time the night of July 16 or the morning of July 17. They're asking for the public's help to identify anyone who may have been at the camping area from the afternoon of July 16 to the morning of July 17. Anyone who believes they have information about the start of the fire is asked to send an email with details and contact information to SM.FS.2022MooseTip@usda.gov.

Firefighter Gerardo Rincon passed away on Sept. 20, due to a medical emergency after fighting the fire out in the field. On Saturday, Sept. 24, a processional was held to take Rincon to the airport to be flown home. The Salmon-Challis National Forest expressed their condolences to Rincon's family, friends, and colleagues, as he made the final journey.

Regarding evacuations, zones 1, 12, 13, and 15, as well as Beartrack Mine and Leesburg, remain in "READY," or Level 1, status. It's the lowest level, but it also means people in those areas should prepare to evacuate if conditions change. Evacuation status for several other areas has been rescinded. Click here for evacuation updates from the Lemhi County Sheriff's Office.

For more information about hunting units in the area, visit the Idaho Fish and Game fire map.

446 firefighters are currently assigned to the Moose Fire, which has burned grass, brush and timber -- much of it dead and downed fuel.

Moose Fire Mosaic

When looking at a fire map, we might think the entire area within the fire perimeter has been burned, but that’s not the case! Fire burns with varying intensity, leaving a mosaic of burned and unburned vegetation on the landscape—just as it has on the #MooseFire. See footage from a recent flight over the southern portion of the Moose Fire below. 🚁 Over time, fires form a patchwork of habitats where different plants and animals can thrive. This pattern of open spaces, younger trees, and mature forest is more resilient in the long term and less susceptible to larger fires.

Posted by U.S. Forest Service - Salmon-Challis National Forest on Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team has been at work doing assessment on the #MooseFire. These photos show a...

Posted by U.S. Forest Service - Salmon-Challis National Forest on Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A helicopter accident that occurred the afternoon of July 20 on the Moose Fire is under investigation. Both pilots on board were killed, the Lemhi County County Sheriff's Office confirmed Friday. They were identified as Thomas Hayes, 41, of Post Falls, Idaho, and Jared Bird, 36, of Anchorage, Alaska. 

The sheriff's office said they died after being extricated and taken to medical facilities. An online fundraiser in Hayes's honor has been created to help his father pay for a funeral and to make a donation to the Boise-based Wildland Firefighter Foundation in his memory. An online fundraiser for Bird's family is also underway. GoFundMe has verified both fundraisers.

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