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West side fires merge into one, reach firelines, road

September 12, 2022

Eric Risdal photo, USFS
Smoke from the west side fires on Sunday.
Slow growth on the Kootenai River Complex fires yesterday and over night, adding 404 acres. The complex fires have burned 19,708 acres as of 8:09 a.m. today. The Russell Mountain and Trout Fires burned together and will now be called the Russell Mountain Fire, 19,445 acres in size. The Katka Fire is at 262 acres, no change from Sunday.

Fire activity on the Russell Mountain and Katka Fires continues to be a low intensity, backing ground fire that has been slowly moving downhill. Firefighters continued to improve fireline and remained in place during both the day and night shifts to hold and suppress the fire as it reaches the fireline and Westside Road. The Russell Mountain Fire has reached constructed fireline west of the Westside Road and the Westside Road in several locations between Trout Creek Road and Ball Creek Road.

Crews have been successful holding the fire in these locations. Due to cloud cover, the overnight infrared detection flight was only able to map the north half of the Russell Mountain Fire showing an increase in size of 404 acres.

Crews will work on handline construction south of the Ball Creek Road area to strengthen and connect with already completed fireline. The fire is expected to continue backing downhill towards the Westside Road and prepared fireline. Firefighters and engines continue to hold and suppress the fire as it reaches the constructed line and road along and near the Westside Road.

Crews will begin thinning vegetation in some areas along the west side of the Westside Road.

Weather conditions are expected to be smoky with the possibility of north/northeast winds increasing from mid to late in the day.

On the Katka Fire, opportunities for fireline will be scouted and fire activity monitored throughout the day. Helicopters are available to be used for water delivery as needed, however, wind and smoke conditions could prevent flying.

Cloud cover will spread across the region as a weather system passes to the north in Canada. Outflow winds from thunderstorms could potentially channel through the fire area by mid to late afternoon gusting 10 to 15 miles per hour. Relative humidity levels will drop as low as 30-percent in the afternoon in the valley.

Due to active fires and fire suppression activities, the Westside Road is restricted to residents-only. Additionally, the following National Forest Trails are now closed: Ball Creek Road (FR 432), Trout Creek Road (FR 634), Russell Mountain (No. 12), Russell Ridge (No. 92), Ball and Pyramid Lakes (No. 43), Pyramid Pass (No. 13), Pyramid Peak (No. 7), Fisher Peak (No. 27), Trout Lake (No. 41), McGinty Ridge (No. 143), Clifty Mountain and Clifty/Burrow (No. 182), Myrtle Peak Trail (No. 286), and Burton Peak Trail (No. 9).

There are no evacuations currently in place, however, those living on the Westside Road closest to Ball Creek, Burton Creek and Clark Creek remain in "set" fire evacuation status. Residents of Boundary County can visit https://www.nixle.com or text their home zip code to 888777 to sign up for emergency alerts. To learn more about the "Ready Set Go" evacuation protocol, visit https://bit.ly/3wi0jMu .

Temporary flight restrictions remain in place for air space over the Katka Fire (2-1234) and the Scotch Creek, Russell Mountain, Eneas Peak, and Trout Fires (2-1621) for aviation safety. Remember that temporary flight restrictions also apply to unmanned aircraft systems, or drones.

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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