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Old 08-15-2012   #1
eideho's Avatar
North Fork, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 46
MFS Take Out - Mustang Fire

This should be resolved shortly because of the impact to the boaters' safety. This threat is in the general forum, but I thought this update here would be of general interest for safety. From today's Idaho Falls Post Register:

Mustang Complex fires strand 200 rafters

By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON -- An estimated 200 rafters were stranded Tuesday after wildfires forced the closure of the only road available to return them to civilization once they've ended trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
Officials with the Salmon-Challis National Forest closed portions of Salmon River Road on Monday, then closed it entirely Monday night after the Mustang Complex fires tripled in size, sending rocks, burned trees and debris tumbling down onto the road.
Several of the fires in what once was an eight-fire complex have burned together and merged, officials said.
Government crews worked Tuesday to remove the debris and reopen the road, U.S.
Forest Service spokeswoman Karen Dunlap said. The goal was to reopen Salmon River Road sometime this morning, she said.
In the interim, an estimated 200 people were left without a way to return to their vehicles, many of which were parked in Salmon. The rafters were forced to camp at Cache Bar, the chief take-out point for Middle Fork boaters.
The spot is located at the end of commercial and private rafting trips that run through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.
Outfitters at the location, about 62 miles northwest of Salmon, told Salmon-Challis forest officials that they likely had enough food on hand, even though rafters tend to carry a minimum in provisions. Supplies are based upon the length of the trip and the number of people in the party.
"If they run out of food, we can provide them with MREs and other supplies," Dunlap said.
The unplanned campout capped two days of swiftly changing conditions downriver caused by the Mustang Complex fires, which had grown to more than 36,000 acres by Tuesday morning.
Worries about safety also prompted Forest Service officials to change the launch spot and length for main Salmon River trips.
The rafting season, at its height from June through early September, accounts for a hefty share of the local economy. Forest Service officials are seeking to smooth the way for recreationists while ensuring their safety, Dunlap said.
But the fires already have had a negative effect among businesses that rely on the summer rafting season.
"We've had numerous cancellations; it's just kind of a nightmare," said Dawn Anderson, an office assistant with River Shuttles in Salmon.
The business, which shuttles vehicles for both Middle Fork and main Salmon rafters, has been disrupted by both the Mustang Complex and the Halstead Fire, burning near Stanley. The fires have forced the occasional closure of roads leading to key Middle Fork boat launch sites.
Tuesday also marked the second day that area wildfires sent smoke and deposits of ash -- with some particles as large as snowflakes -- into Salmon.
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