TRESTLE CREEK — Six fires in the Trestle Creek area have currently burned a combined 67 acres, according to Kary Maddox, fire information officer for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.
The fires are burning about 6-8 air miles up Trestle Creek from Highway 200 on Forest Service land, Maddox said. Three are burning on Trestle Ridge and the others are burning on a ridge on the other side.
All the fires were started by lightning from Wednesday’s storm, Maddox said. The first fire was reported at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and the last at noon.
Maddox said the fires vary in size, with the two largest being 30 and 22 acres, and are in close proximity to each other.
Maddox said information is limited at this time, but noted crews have a pretty organized initial attack on the fires.
“I’m still trying to be patient with dispatch and let them get their feet under them because it’s just controlled chaos at this point trying to get resources,” Maddox said.
Over 20 fires were reported on Forest Service protected land on Wednesday, according to Maddox, which has strained resources and caused other fires, such as the Mission Flats fire near Cataldo that threatened to cross I-90 on Wednesday, to be prioritized.
No homes are currently being threatened, but Maddox encouraged Bonner County residents to sign-up for Nixle alerts from the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office to receive emergency alerts about things such as evacuations.
“That’s really the best way to stay informed,” Maddox said.
Due to the extreme drought conditions and high fire danger across northern Idaho, Stage II fire restrictions are being implemented in the Coeur d’Alene Fire Restriction Area, which includes all state, federal, and private forestland and rangeland in Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, Shoshone and Latah counties, according to a press release.
“We have to do everything we can to prevent more starts,” Maddox said.
The restrictions go into effect on Monday, July 12, and will remain in place until further notice.
The Stage II restrictions also includes National Forest System lands in Washington and Montana that are administered by the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, the release stated.
Under Stage II fire restrictions, the following acts are prohibited on the restricted private, state and federally managed or protected lands, roads, and trails:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a designated recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
- Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails in accordance with existing travel management plans for non-commercial purposes including ATVs, UTVs, and pickups.
- The following acts are prohibited from 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.: (A patrol is required for one hour following cessation of all work as described in A, B, and C below.)
A. Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine for felling, bucking, skidding, processing, log loading and hauling, road building and woodcutting or any other activity employing the use of an internal combustion engine or off-road activity associated with industrial operations or fire wood gathering.
B. Blasting, welding, or other activities that generate flame or flammable material.
C. Using an explosive.
The following are exemptions to the Stage II fire restrictions:
- Persons with a written permit that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.
- Persons using a fire or stove fire fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels. Such devices, including propane campfires, may be used only in an area cleared of flammable material.
- Persons using a generator with an approved spark arrester on areas that are cleared of all flammable materials within three feet of the generator.
- Log loading and hauling only from landings and existing roads and only on non-federal lands.
- Private landowners using charcoal (disposed of properly) or propane barbecues on their own lands.
- Normal operations on crop lands.
- Emergency repair of public utilities and railroads as per conditions in Stage II exemptions for public utilities and railroads.
- Any federal, state, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force, in the performance of an official duty.
- Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice.
- All land within a city boundary.
Visit http://www.idahofireinfo.com/p/fire-restrictions.html for a detailed map and current information regarding fire restrictions or contact your local land management office.