The Lochsa/Powell Ranger District of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests is managing the lightning-caused Crab Fire as a full-suppression fire. Reported at 10:25 on July 26, the fire is located approximately 6 miles east of the Powell Ranger Station. The fire does not pose a near term risk to communities. Currently, the only values immediately threatened by the fire are timber values. After closely evaluating excellent efforts by the responding smokejumpers and aircraft, and considering the probability for success of the long-term work required to fully extinguish this fire, the decision was made on Saturday, July 27th, to disengage from direct suppression tactics on the fire. Fire managers decided to implement indirect suppression tactics using trails and roads and natural features such as ridges and streams as fire lines. Heavy equipment was brought in to reinforce these strategic lines. This will limit exposure and risk to firefighters and will provide a high probability of success for containment, while minimizing the exposure of firefighters to the hazards of a backcountry fire environment. Improving area roads and natural landscape features as a fireline began with operations on the 2012 Fern Fire. The team has connected those efforts to new fireline which will provide firefighting resources a line of defense from the fire impacting private timber lands and other values such as recreation and permitted activities to the north.
Difficult risk management decisions are made on every wildfire. Many elements were considered in this process including:
· Risk of firefighter exposure and the complexity of extractions in a medical emergency
· The fire is in the North Fork Spruce – White Sands Roadless Area
· It is less than 1 mile from the Selway – Bitterroot Wilderness
· The fire is approximately 2.5 miles to Western Pacific Timber property
· Time of year (current state of live and dead fuel moistures are above average)
· Long-term forecast
· Fuel types (tree and shrub species)
· Nature and continuity of those fuels (size and density of the stands)
As with many fires on this side of the Bitterroot Mountains, there is a good history of previous wildfires which may serve to modify fire behavior and intensity, as it advances in most directions. The fire encompasses the 2006 Clark Fire footprint and is adjacent to the 2012 Fern Fire. As we continue with these suppression efforts we want to note that it is possible the Crab Fire will be a long-term wildfire, with the potential to burn until a season ending event. Due to variances in weather, topography and available fuels, some days the fire may become more active and produce more smoke than others.
Aug 23, 2019 – Update (Future updates may not be daily unless there is significant activity to report.)
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest’s local Type 3 Incident Management Team will return management of the Crab Fire back to the Lochsa-Powell Ranger District on Sunday, August 25, 2019. The team successfully completed 6 miles of indirect fireline along the 386 and 385 roads. Most of the heavy equipment assigned to the fire has now been released. Fire crews will remain working on suppression repair and to improve the effectiveness of the constructed fireline.
The Beaver Ridge Road #369 and the Beaver Meadows Road #368 and three area trails remain closed for public and firefighter safety. There is still no access to the Beaver Ridge Lookout. As conditions improve the district will consider modifications to this closure. See the “Closures” section for more information
Over the past week, fire activity has remained minimal due to recent rain and higher relative humidity but occasional flare-ups are still being observed.
Crab Fire Facts
· Reported: 10:25 on July 26, by Bear Mountain Lookout
· Cause: Lightning
· Location: Approximately 6 miles east of the Powell Ranger Station
· Jurisdiction: US Forest Service Lochsa-Powell Ranger District
· Command – Powell RD Type 4 IC
· Size: 198 acres on August 19
· Fuels: Subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, Engleman spruce, and brush
· Social Media Hashtag: #CrabFire, #LochsaPowellRD, #NPClwNF