Snake River Complex Fire Is Now Number One in The Country at 88,299 Acres Burned
Marisa Lloyd

Snake River Complex Fire Is Now Number One in The Country at 88,299 Acres Burned

Information from Meeting Monday Night

Monday, July 13 the Waha community gathered at the Waha Bar and Grill to get information on the Snake River Complex fires that are threatening their homes. The fire is up to 88,299 acres burned and 0% containment as of Tuesday morning.  

Type 2 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 4 Incident Commander, Rick Connell, told the public that this is currently the number one priority fire in the country. All resources at their disposal are being utilized, however, they are still spread thin creating some challenges. 

“When we have these large fires there is no way to simply put the fire out,” said Connell. “We don’t have enough resources. The goal is to contain the fire first, which means you will potentially see smoke all summer”.

There are a few factors at play that are helping emergency responders get a leg up on this fire. First, most of the terrain is light flashy grass. This means there is less fuel to keep the fire going in the center. Also, due to the Lick Creek fire in Asotin, there is a plethora of smoke in the air. This helps this particular fire because there is less oxygen in the air which is fire's best friend. 

They have continued to work on containing the fire at the rim. With winds in the forecast and homes bone-chillingly close to these fires, the team is trying to be prepared. Considering the canyons are full of timber, grass, and fire they can run quickly. Getting ahead of this and creating burn lines around the rim allows them to get ahead of any issues that may occur and save all the properties they can. 

Connell also stressed that individuals stay away from the fire lines. Public safety is emergency personnel’s number one concern. When they hear a four-wheeler they stop what they fighting the fires and try to find the individual to get them safely out. Drones are also another mechanism that impedes their work. When you fly, they can’t. 

“We are a part of your team,” said Connell. “Help us, help you”. 

Evacuations are another inhibitor to these individuals to fight fires. Connell mentioned that he knows a good amount of individuals chose not to evacuate when asked and he asked people use extreme caution when continuing to stay in their homes. 

“As the fire gets close to your properties and homes, please consider that I cannot fight fires if I am worried about your safety,” said Connell. “If I come knocking on your door tonight please be prepared you will not have a lot of time”. 

 

Waha Bar and Grill owner Cory James spoke at the meeting as well giving the audience a local viewpoint. James mentioned that he has been on the front lines with emergency personnel and got a breath of fresh air seeing all the work they have done.

“They have created black zones to the point that we can breathe tonight,” said James. “I know there is a lot of fear about evacuations, but I want you to know you are in very good hands”. 

James also mentioned the looting incident that occurred and stressed to the crowd that law enforcement and locals have been patrolling the area to ensure everyone’s houses are safe. They are also making sure that individuals are not getting in the way of firefighters. 

“We all know each other around here,” said James. “we know who doesn’t belong”. 

 

A report that was issued Tuesday morning was also made not of the current evacuations orders that have been issued for homes along the Snake River and for residents on Zaza road north of Soldier Meadow and west of Waha road, including Redbird and Waha Lake, as well as for residents of the Deer Creek area, the community of Forest, and north of Hoover Ridge.

Road access is also restricted to residents only on Zaza Road at Deer Creek and from Redbird Road South in Nez Perce County and Deer Creek Road to Soldier Meadow in Lewis County.

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