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Fires Contained in Idaho, Utah, While Headway Seen in California, Oregon

September 16, 1987

Undated (AP) _ Firefighters used water from snow-machine hydrants to control a 30-acre blaze in the lush mountains of Idaho’s Sun Valley ski resort, while in Utah’s western desert, a lightning-sparked blaze that scorched 12,000 acres of sagebrush and juniper was tamed.

In California, remaining firefighters continued making headway in three national forests with uncontained fires, and Oregon officials reported the state’s last big forest fire was 60 percent contained after two days of light showers in the Siskiyou Mountains.

California officials reported today that air tankers and helicopters have once again joined ground forces in the battle against fires raging on 162,000 acres in Klamath National Forest.

″Tuesday was the first time in about two weeks that we were able to have any kind of air show,″ said John Garland, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. ″The air was clear of smoke and we had no tremendous problems.″

Containment of all blazes in the California forests is expected by Monday, said Ray Schaaf, fire information officer with the U.S. Forest Service in Redding, Calif. He said weather for the next few days is expected to aid firefighters.

The Shasta and Trinity national forests were closed Tuesday to public use, including deer hunting, the Forest Service announced.

The fires have burned more than 1,100 square miles in eight Western states since the spate began late last month. Most of the fires were set off by lightning during hot, dry weather.

The California blazes were the most destructive in the state’s history, and were battled at their peak by 14,000 firefighters, but authorities have begun sending 10,000 firefighters home.

Stephanie Gibert, spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said that 554,000 acres have been blackened in Northern California since Aug. 28. Fires have destroyed about 60,000 acres in Southern California, and the blazes there have all been declared fully contained, fire officials said.

In Idaho, a 2,000-acre fire in the Challis National Forest had ″laid down most of the day,″ forest spokesman Jim James said. Expected high winds did not come up and the fire was just ″creeping around within the burned area.″

The fire, which exploded from 15 acres to 2,000 in just six hours on Monday, was burning west of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River near the Tappan Ranch and 8,600-foot Bear Creek Point.

Meanwhile, in Sun Valley’s Sawtooth National Forest, spokesman Art Selin said ″one could see flames licking the pines″ earlier Tuesday west of the ski runs.

″The fire didn’t get any further last night partly because of the tankers, retardant drops and helicopters dropping water,″ he said.

North of the Salmon River, fire bosses regrouped and renewed their attack on the 2,500-acre Cove Creek Fire after that blaze jumped a road and doubled in size Monday night.

But even with that breakout, Nez Perce National Forest officials said they still expected to have that blaze contained late Wednesday and controlled by Thursday.

No structures were endangered by any of the blazes, and Nez Perce spokeswoman Mary Zabinski said a fire line separating the Cove Creek blaze from a 60,000-gallon fuel depot at Mackay Bar was holding.

The fight against Oregon’s last fire 25 miles west of Grants Pass was going so well that many of the firefighters were being demobilized by Tuesday, said fire spokeswoman Pauline McGinty.

The number of firefighters was down to 1,100 after the 650 soldiers of the 7th Infantry division headed home Monday to Fort Ord, Calif., said fire spokeswoman Doris Tai.

Burning out behind fire lines to strengthen the barriers against the blaze raised the acreage of the fires to 30,600, she said.

In Utah, Pete Hansen, manager of the Interagency fire center, said the desert blaze, fought by 35 firefighters at its height, was on barren federal wasteland.

″It’s pretty well cold and out,″ dispatcher Lori Ensley of the Interagency Fire Center said Tuesday night.

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