Fire crews reported substantial progress toward containment of the Sand Mountain and Johnson Creek fires, according to an update Tuesday from the Idaho Department of Lands. The report said heavy equipment will be moving off the fires as mop-up operations expand, and the backhauling of unneeded supplies begins.

As of Tuesday morning, the Sand Mountain fire near Laird Park has reached about 82 percent containment at 1,617 acres. Crews have constructed containment lines around the entirety of the fire but there remains an area along Big Sand Road that firefighters have not been able to engage directly because of difficult terrain. The report said fire suppression efforts will focus on “buttoning up” that section.

The Johnson Creek fire near Elk River has grown to 1,327 acres and is about 63 percent contained, the report said. Crews continue to strengthen containment lines along the northern edge of the fire near Shite Creek.

The two are the only active fires in the Leland Complex burning in Latah and Clearwater counties. Started by lightning July 7, the Leland Complex has collectively consumed 3,492 acres and has reached about 78 percent containment, the report said.

Smoky skies are expected to persist through at least today. The National Weather Service expects temperatures to hit the upper 90s today on the Palouse and the triple digits in the Lewis Clark Valley. However, there is some chance of relief with forecasts calling for light rainfall starting this evening and lasting through Friday. High temperatures Friday through Monday are forecast in the upper 70s and lower 80s on the Palouse.

Visit for information on local air quality, and the shortened link for up-to-date information on the Leland Complex.

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