COEUR d’ALENE – The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning across the northern and central Idaho Panhandle due to dry and breezy conditions. Despite cooler temperatures, these conditions are increasing fire danger on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF)- effective August 2, the fire danger is VERY HIGH.
At this time there are no fire restrictions in place, however with Red Flag conditions and “very high” fire danger, visitors are reminded to be careful while recreating in the forest. A fire danger rating of VERY HIGH means that fires start easily from all causes and small fuels (such as grasses and needles) will ignite rapidly and immediately after ignition spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity. Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity such as long distance spotting. These fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires.
Wildfires in the Idaho Panhandle that are being actively managed include:
Bonners Ferry Ranger District
Smith Creek Fire (370 acres): The fire was reported on 7/28/2018 and is burning on National Forest System Lands at the head of Smith Creek on Lions Head Ridge. The fire was caused by lightning and is burning in subalpine fir and shrubs. Fire activity is moderate, smoldering and creeping with an occasional singletree torching. Operations are geared to protect private property values near the fire. Sprinkler systems have been installed adjacent to structures. Additional firefighter resources will arrive today to help staff the fire. Information about this fire is provided on the Incident Information System InciWeb.
Slide Creek Fire (27 acres): Located in the Myrtle Creek municipal watershed, the fire is burning in heavy logging slash on private timber ground. Multiple ground and aerial resources are on scene including a 20 person hotshot crew, as well as Idaho State machinery; a dozer, an excavator and a skid-gen. Aviation support includes a type 1 helicopter.
Sandpoint Ranger District
Cougar Fire (500 acres): The Cougar Fire was reported on 7/28/2018 and is approximately 5 miles east of Hope, Idaho. Burning in steep, rugged terrain, this fire is located on National Forest System Lands south of Wellington Creek, southwest of Lightning Creek and north of Porcupine Lake. Smokejumpers were dispatched on Monday, however they disengaged because of safety concerns with falling trees and steep terrain. Fire managers are using manmade and natural features to confine and contain this fire. Fire growth has been primarily to the north and east; an infra-red flight will be made over the area this evening to accurately map the fire perimeter. Firefighters are scouting for opportunities to safely engage the fire. An ATV trail (Road 642) will be closed this afternoon to ensure public safety; Road 120 will remain open. Information about this fire is provided on InciWeb.
Priest Lake Ranger District
Tarlac Fire (2 acres): This fire is located within the Priest River Experimental Forest. Firefighters have a line around the perimeter of the fire.
Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District
Surprise Creek Fire (3 acres): This fire is located south of Faset Peak, on a ridge between Surprise and Ermine Creeks in the Independence drainage. Although this fire is low intensity with creeping/smoldering, smoke may be highly visible from Highway 95 around Athol and other communities such as Lakeview, Bayview, and Hope.
Falls Creek Fire (5 acres): The Falls Creek Fire is located west of Fir Gulch, in the main Falls Creek drainage, in the #1503 and #151 road junction area. The fire is burning in a stand of grand fir/hemlock that contains pockets of trees with forest health issues, primarily root rot. Firefighting resources are on scene and have a hose line around the fire.
Rampike Fire (25 acres): The Rampike fire is located on the ridge between Clinton and Rampike Creeks, approximately 1.5 miles east of Forest Road 412. The fire is burning below the Ulm Peak fire scar.
St. Joe Ranger District
Quartz Creek Fire (30 acres): Reported 7/29/2018, this fire is located approximately six miles up the Quartz Creek Road north of Highway 50 in the Quartz Creek drainage. The fire is burning in thick, dead and down fuels. Heavy equipment was used to gain access to the area, but direct access to the fire is limited by steep rocky terrain. Aerial and ground firefighting resources are on scene and expect to contain the fire today.
North Cemetery Ridge Fire (10 acres): Also reported on 7/29/2018, this fire is located approximately six miles up the #1907 road north Highway 50, and two miles west of Mastadon Mountain. The Fire is burning in heavy dead and down timber and also has limited access due to steep and rocky terrain. Firefighters have completed line construction around the fire.
464 Fire (0.8 acres): The 464 Fire was reported on 8/1/2018. Resources are on scene and are establishing a line around the fire.
For fire information on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, please contact 208-557-8813.