By Zach Hagadone
Fire bosses provided an update on the Ridge Creek blaze Aug. 16, burning on 3,124 acres 3.5 miles northeast of Hayden Lake in Kootenai County, noting that high temperatures Aug. 15 contributed to “active fire behavior and some fire growth,” while crews reported 15% containment.
A total of 458 personnel on 11 crews are working the fire, along with 12 engines and six heavy equipment assets. According to officials, efforts to fight the Ridge Creek fire would be supported Aug. 16 by two “super scooper” air tankers based in Alaska, as well as a Type 1 “heavy” helicopter and an additional reconnaissance aircraft.
Crews and equipment operators are working to reinforce fuel breaks and plan to use night-time operations to clear ground fuels in order to strengthen the eastern flank of the fire.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but suspected of being human-caused.
Residents in the Bunco Road and Hayden Lake areas are in a state of level 1 “Get Ready” for evacuation, meaning they should continue to monitor official sources of fire information and call 208-446-2292 for any questions regarding evacuations.
Meanwhile, U.S. Forest Service Structure protection personnel arrived Aug. 15 in Lakeview on Lake Pend Oreille to make assessments “out of an abundance of caution … should it ever be needed for the Ridge Creek Fire,” according to an advisory notice from the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office. The USFS teams will be in Lakeview until Friday, Aug. 17.
Meanwhile, air support on the Ridge Creek fire was diverted Aug. 15 to respond to the Sarah Loop fire, which was reported in the late afternoon Aug. 15 burning on about 60 acres north of Silverwood and west of U.S. 95, and initially prompted level 3 evacuations for Athol residents but were downgraded Aug. 16 to level 1. No homes have been lost, but officials reported two outbuildings had been burned. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
In support of those suppression efforts, four Fire Boss fixed-wing scoopers, two large air tankers and one very large air tanker were operating in the vicinity of Athol and Bayview under the jurisdiction of the Idaho Department of Lands on Aug. 15, underscoring the need for residents and recreational boaters to be observant of aircraft — including helicopters — using either Hayden Lake or Lake Pend Oreille, and restrict their activities to the shore when present.
Elsewhere, burning on 264 acres about eight miles south of Clark Fork in the Sandpoint Ranger District of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, the Buckskin 2 fire is 15% contained, as of Aug. 15, with 160 personnel working the blaze, including eight engines; five hand crews; three modules; and heavy equipment consisting of three dozers, two skidgens and one water tender.
The cause remained undetermined as of Aug. 16, and fire managers reported that an interagency Hotshot Crew had joined the effort, which included improvising, holding and mopping up existing firelines along the remaining perimeter, as well as reinforcing firelines along the western flank.
Road closures are in effect for the intersections of Forest Service Roads 203 and 332, as well as FSR 1021 and 332, and 1533 and 306 in Clark Fork. UTV Trail 77 is also closed, while an extension of the FSR 203 closure was pending as of Aug. 15.
Meanwhile, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office issued a level 1 “Get Ready” notification for residents in the Twin Creek and Rearden Road areas in Clark Fork. For local updates, sign up for BCSO’s emergency messaging system at nixle.com.
The Bee Top fire, located five miles northeast of Clark Fork, and burning on 45 acres as of the most recent report Aug. 10, is 80% contained, with crews monitoring the fire to keep it within containment lines. Fire officials identified the cause of the Bee Top fire as lightning.
Likewise, the 475-acre, lightning-caused Consalus fire in the Priest Lake Ranger District was 80% contained as of the Aug. 12 report, burning 10 miles west of Coolin in Pend Oreille County, Wash.
Stage II fire restrictions remain in place for North Idaho, owing to drought conditions and continued high temperatures, which have made fire danger ratings “very high” to “extreme” across the region. Learn more about the restrictions at idl.idaho.gov/fire-management/fire-restrictions-finder.
Go to inciweb.wildfire.gov for more updates on regional fires.
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