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Kootenai River Complex fires more active Tuesday

September 21, 2022
Clarice McKenney photo
The Westside Road fires Tuesday afternoon as seen from Highway 95.

USFS photo
Fire activity increased yesterday and overnight with winds from the northeast gusting up the mountain slopes. The fire is still mainly creeping and smoldering through the understory, with some scattered flare ups reaching treetops. An infrared detection flight occurred last night, so reported size has increased by 281 acres since the last detection on Saturday. The Russell Mountain Fire is now 20,869 acres, the Katka Fire 319 acres.

There are 241 personnel working the complex, with completion at 79-percent.

Helicopters made several water drops over the Long Canyon fire and the section of fire near Farnham Creek. Chipping operations along the Westside Road are nearly complete. Crews continued to reinforce dozer and handlines. Air resources monitored the increased activity on the Katka fire. Night operations were on patrol and reported a slight increase in fire behavior due to the gusty winds.

When a fire burns against the wind direction or downhill, it is known as a “backing fire.” This type of fire spread is slower and burns with a lower intensity than fire that’s moving with the wind or burning uphill. For the Russell Mountain Fire, hand and dozer lines have been made at the bottom of the slopes along Westside Road so the fire can back down the hill and burn into the lines where firefighters have planned them.

Crews will continue to patrol the dozer and handlines and monitor fire behavior as it backs downhill. Firefighters will continue chipping operations along Westside Road, mopping up, removing hazard trees and testing structure protection equipment. Nighttime crews will maintain patrol routes along Westside Road.

The Katka Fire and Long Canyon will be monitored by air. Fire officials and the Forest District are discussing long-term strategic planning processes for suppression repair and restoring public access.

Weather for the day will continue to be dry and windy, allowing for more active fire conditions and smoke production. Temperatures in the valley will be 72-77 degrees with minimum relative humidity of 23- to 29-percent. Winds are expected to be variable out of the northeast at four to eight miles per hour with gusts up to 12 miles per hour. Higher humidity and the possibility for a light rain shower are expected overnight.

Due to active fires and fire suppression activities, Westside Road remains restricted to residents only. Additionally, the following National Forest Trails and Roads 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. Temporary flight restrictions remain in place for air space over the Katka Fire (2-7802) and the Russell Mountain Fire (2-1621) for aviation safety.

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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