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IPNF fire update

September 2, 2022

By Kary Maddox
U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Forest Service
Large Air Tanker (LAT) dropping 3,000 gallons of
retardant on the Katka Fire on Friday.
Existing fires have seen an increase in fire behavior and smoke this week, with moderate to significant growth. After a month of record heat, the last day of August brought a fast-moving system to the region that moved across the panhandle with gusty winds, lightning, and little to no precipitation. Wildfires in exposed locations, or in drainages aligned with wind were impacted the most by this system. The need for closures is currently being assessed and is expected on several fires. Additionally, several new fires have been reported or discovered, and are in the early stages of initial attack. For the most up-to-date acreage and information on any of the fires listed below, please visit https://InciWeb.nwcg.gov.

North Zone of the IPNF – The Bonners Ferry Ranger District has seen the most fire activity in the zone this year. The Eneas Peak, 816 acres, Trout, 327 acres, and Russell Mountain Fires are all located in the Selkirks on the west side of the Kootenai River Valley. The largest fire, the Russell Mountain Fire, 2,100 acres, did show significant wind-driven growth overnight to the east, but is still miles from private values. The Scotch Fire is a new start in Ball Creek (the same drainage as the Russell Mountain Fire) and an additional fire is being fought in Fan Creek, near the Canadian Border.
Several fires have been reported in the Bonners Ferry area Thursday night’s storm, and the Katka Fire, 35 acres, was the first to be confirmed and staffed Friday. Due to observed fire behavior and the proximity of Katka Peak to private property, a heavy initial attack is underway. Current resources consist of numerous fixed wing and rotor wing firefighting aircraft, along with engines and ground crews. A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered.

There are ‘Ready’ pre-evacuation notices in place for some areas in the immediate vicinity of the Katka and Scotch Fires. Call the Boundary County Emergency Management line at (208) 696-2626 for detailed information.

The Diamond Watch Fire on the Priest Lake Ranger District is holding at 835 acres, showing very little growth. All fuelbreaks, machine line, hand line, and sprinklers have held the fire within the indirect suppression lines.

Closure orders are in place on both districts, with details and maps available on InciWeb.

Central Zone of the IPNF – The Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District is currently managing two fires with an indirect suppression strategy. The Columbus Fire, approximately six miles northeast of Murray, saw significant growth due to recent weather. It is now estimated at 300 acres and can be seen from the Thompson Falls area. A few miles to the south is the Bear Gulch Fire, which has seen only 10 acres of growth this week and is now 60 acres. Both fires are steep terrain with limited access opportunities. A closure order is forthcoming for these fires. New starts continue to be detected and receive initial attack resources, but none show barriers to suppression.

South Zone of the IPNF – The largest fire on the St. Joe Ranger District is the Blackburn Fire at 225 acres. The road closure on FSR 320 has been lifted, but caution is advised when traveling around active wildfires. Each thunderstorm has brought a new round of lightning-starts to the St. Joe, but the majority have been quickly contained or controlled. There are currently no road or area closures on the St. Joe Ranger District associated with fire activity, but a closure is in place on a segment of FSR 326 for road work.

Wildfire season is not over, prompting the continued need for wildfire preparedness. https://www.ready.gov/wildfires has great information on recognizing warnings and alerts, making an emergency plan, strengthening your home, and knowing your evacuation routes. No fire restrictions are in effect for the Coeur d Alene Dispatch zone, but fire safety is always necessary. See https://www.idl.idaho.gov/fire-management/fire-restrictions-finder for more details.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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