Fires burn near Priest Lake

IDL, Forest Service provide updates on Lion Roar, Diamond Watch fires

By Reader Staff

The Idaho Department of Lands reported Aug. 7 that there had been 89 fires — totaling 345 burned acres — on the 6.3 million acres of land the department protects across the state. Of those fires, 63 were human caused, burning 92% of the reported acreage. IDL’s suppression costs so far this season are estimated around $8.4 million, and that figure will continue to grow as the fire season picks up in Idaho.

A fuel break implemented for the Diamond Watch Fire. Photo courtesy US Forest Service.

Close to home, IDL is currently fighting the Lion Roar Fire in the Lion Creek drainage near Priest Lake. IDL reported the blaze at 55 acres on Aug. 10 — a 25-acre increase over the previous day — and at 0% containment. Despite 90 personnel currently dedicated to the Lion Roar Fire, officials report that “initial attack in logging slash combined with steep and rocky terrain is making containment difficult.”

Crews have established hose lays and there are plans to reopen old forest roads to gain better access to the fire. Aircraft, heavy equipment and direct hand lines are all being used. Despite a light rain on the morning of Aug. 10, fire activity remained moderate.

According to IDL, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office has initiated a “ready” alert for Priest Lake State Park-Lionhead Unit and residents of Sandpiper Shores. Lion Creek Road No. 42 and Lucky Creek Road No. 43 are currently closed for fire suppression activities until further notice. 

To stay informed about the Lion Roar Fire and other IDL fire operations, visit

Meanwhile, the Diamond Watch Fire — located in Pend Oreille County, Washington, about five miles west of Nordman, Idaho — had grown to 270 acres as of Aug. 10, and remained 0% contained. Under the jurisdiction of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, the fire was started by lightning on July 14 and has grown with the help of the high temperatures, winds and “very low relative humidity,” according to fire officials.

There are currently 26 personnel dedicated to the Diamond Watch Fire, who are focused on removing excess fuel from roadsides. A sprinkler has also been deployed on the northern edge of the fire, and hand lines are being constructed.

The Diamond Watch Fire has prompted a number of road closures. Closure of Forest Service Roads 311, 308 and Petit Lake are currently in progress to provide for safe heavy equipment operations and fire suppression activity. FSR 311 will be closed from the 311/308 junction to Petit Lake and FSR 308 will be closed from the 311/308 junction to the 308/1362 junction. 

Best access to the Priest Lake area from the Colville National Forest will be through Newport, Wash., via US Highway 2 North and Priest River via ID Highway 57 North. 

There are no evacuations currently in place related to the Diamond Watch Fire. However, when living in fire prone areas it is recommended that all area residents have an evacuation plan in place, including having all important documents, pictures, prescriptions and pets gathered and easily transportable.  

Residents of Bonner and Pend Oreille counties can visit or text their zip code to 888-777 to sign up for emergency alerts.

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