Skip to main content

2021 Payette Wilderness Fires

Unit Information

Payette National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
500 N Mission St
McCall, ID 83638

USFS Shield

Incident Contact

Payette Fire Information
Phone: 208-634-0820

Map showing Club, Vinegar, and Rush Creek Fire perimeters and surrounding topography.Image options: [ Full Size ]

Three fires are burning in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness on the Payette National Forest. The Club, Rush Creek, and Vinegar fires were started by lightning on July 15, 2021.

A trail closure in the area of the Club Fire was put in place on September 9th. Please review this closure in updated documents and maps at the Club Fire Inciweb page.

When recreating in the burned area, the public needs to manage their own risk by being aware of uncontrolled fire, fire weakened trees, rolling debris and loose footing. 

The Rush Creek Fire experienced growth to the southeast and increased in size by 1,400 acres on September 6.  After this growth, the fire has continued to slowly spread, backing into the wind to the South and West. It is working its way towards lookout mountain Ridge and Black Pole. This fire started at the confluence of Telephone and Rush Creeks, 14 miles southwest of Taylor Ranch (lat/long: 45 59 00 x 114 59 35).  Following two days of unsuccessful initial attack suppression efforts using helicopter water drops, a point protection and monitoring strategy was adopted. Firefighters completed point protection for the University of Idaho research station at Taylor Ranch. A separate Inciweb entry has been created and can be found at or by searching Rush Creek in the incident search bar. 

The Vinegar Fire has not shown fire activity for nearly two weeks as of September 7. This fire started approximately 2 miles north of the Cabin Creek Administrative Site (lat/long: 45 10 44 x 114 54 19). The Cabin Creek Airstrip has been closed to general aviation, NOTAM # I0807-141. Firefighters are working to protect the historic structures at Cabin Creek Ranch. A separate Inciweb entry has been created and can be found at or by searching Vinegar Fire in the incident search bar. 

The Club Fire experienced growth to the east and northeast on September 6 and 7, 2021 adding about 1,400 acres to the total acreage. Subsequent days have continued to see growth to the east/northeast due to high winds and low relative humidity, however cloud and smoke cover on the morning of September 10 was limiting fire behavior. The fire is surrounded by burn scars from previous fires, though some older burned areas are not slowing growth. The fire has been burning actively through the 1988 Silver Fire, but managers are not seeing active spread through the 2007 Tag Fire area. Firefighters are in place at Cold Meadows Guard Station establishing point protection for the administrative site. As of September 9th, the fire was estimated to be around 2.5 miles to the southwest of Cold Meadows. This fire started 3 miles southwest of Root Ranch. Crews have completed point protection on values at risk to the admin site in close cooperation with Root Ranch personnel. The Club, Rush Creek, and Vinegar fires were started by lightning on July 15, 2021.  A separate Inciweb entry has been created and can be found at or by searching Club Firein the incident search bar. 

The Club, Rush Creek, and Vinegar fires were started by lightning on July 15, 2021.

Regarding our response to wilderness wildfires, we respond to every wildfire with the safety of the public and our firefighters as our highest priority. The safety of the public, communities and all front-line responders will always remain our highest priority.

Our response may have a wide range of actions including indirect engagement such as using direct and indirect confinement strategies and point protection.  With every new fire start, fire managers engage in a comprehensive risk analysis to identify the safest and most appropriate management actions - firefighters will not directly engage unless necessary and only when risk is mitigated to an acceptable level.

Wildfire decisions are inherently complex. These decisions are based on sound risk management and the best information available, to include fire behavior, fire danger conditions, mitigation of hazards, available resources, firefighter and public safety, and values that are threatened. 

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginThursday July 15th, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
LocationFrank Church River of No Return Wilderness
Incident DescriptionLightning on July 15, 2021 ignited multiple fires on the Payette National Forest. The Rush Creek Fire was detected on 7/16. The Club and Vinegar fires were detected on 7/17. One additional fire from the July 15th lightning remained small and was called out on 7/18. Lightning on 7/19 also ignited 3 more fires, all of which have remained small.
Coordinates45 latitude, -115 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel14
Estimated Containment DateFriday October 01st, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber (Grass, Litter and Understory)


Planned Actions

Continue to protect private and historic values.