The Big Cougar blaze continues to burn and threaten more homes

The Big Cougar blaze continues to burn and threaten more homes »Play Video
There are 200 threatened structures firefighters are trying to protect.
LEWISTON, ID - The Big Cougar Fire, burning 24-miles south of here, is the number one priority for firefighting agencies in the northern Rockies.

Reporter Sophia Miraglio learn what is being done now to combat the blaze.

The Big Cougar Fire, which is burning directly behind me is listed at 45,000 acres, it's destroyed six structures and remains at 15-percent containment. However fire officials said that they are doing everything within their power to get a handle on the blaze.

"This is a boots on the ground, aerial operation," said Thomas. "We have approximately 454 people that are helping on this fire. So lots of folks out working on the ground and using those aerial resources."

Crews continue to conduct ongoing protection to all 200 threatened structures, however conditions are proving difficult.

"You know when we lose structures out on any kind of a fire you know that hurts," said Thomas. "So we've got people in and around all of the structures making sure that there's a line around those properties."

So far five structures on the Snake River and one on the Salmon have been lost.

"It is so dry and fuels are so dry, temperatures are high and humidity low," said Thomas. "And that just sets up a good opportunity for fire to do it's thing and work it's way."

However that unpredictable fire activity will soon be matched with a controlled burn.

"Yesterday we were up in Libby, Montana and got assigned to this and drove here. And our mission is to prepare the division for firing from the top of the canyon up here."

The fire burning behind me is actually what they call back burning, it was eight miles of line that was laid out as a way to fight the fire using fire.

"The back fire that we lit here will eventually spread and the two fires will come together and once there no longer no more fuel left between them it will be a done deal," said Shawn Borgen.

There are currently four helicopters, three dozers and fifteen crews working around the clock.

You know the job is very rewarding, it is tough but you're able to find parts of yourself that you're probably not going to discover."

There are no restrictions on boat traffic in the river; however fire officials are asking the public to stay out of the way of helicopters. And remind people that every time a boat gets in the way of air support it's prolonging the process of getting water to the fire.

The Waha, Redbird and Deer Creek communities are all under state two evacuation, meaning they should be ready to leave at a moments notice.