Kootenai River Complex Fire Update Sept. 22
BOUNDARY COUNTY —- The Kootenai River Complex fires are estimated to have reached 21,427 acres and are at 79% completion.
Currently 240 personnel are working on the fires and the incident command team is the Type 2 Eastern Area Incident Management Team Gold.
One tactic being used to reduce the intensity of the Russell Mountain Fire is aerial suppression with helicopters dropping water on areas of increased fire behavior, incident team officials wrote in a press release. There are three types of helicopters assisting fire personnel on this complex.
Type 1 helicopters can carry and drop over 700 gallons of water, while Type 2 helicopters can carry up to 300 gallons of water. Type 3 helicopters are smaller and faster than the Type 2 and are more likely to be used for reconnaissance and are available for emergency medical extraction, officials wrote.
Most of the fire activity seen by firefighters on Wednesday was around the Farnham area and the north side of Trout Creek. Helicopters focused their water drops over those areas and on the south end of the fire around Clark Creek. Crews continue to mitigate hazard trees and snags along Westside Road.
Officials said the visible increase in smoke is due to the ignition of islands of unburned or green fuel inside the fire perimeter.
The Katka Fire slightly increased in size but is still burning with low intensity. Firefighters continue to strengthen and monitor dozer and handlines during day operations and patrol and monitor the lines during night operations.
Weather patterns will be shifting today and Friday to cooler and more humid conditions. Firefighters will continue to patrol the dozer and handlines and monitor fire behavior, officials said. There is still chipping to be done along Westside Rd. With the cooler, wetter weather, crews will focus on mopping up hot spots where the fire has reached the road and primary control lines, removing hazard trees, and testing structure protection equipment.
Nighttime crews will continue monitoring fire behavior along Westside Rd. The Katka Fire and Long Canyon will be monitored by air. Firefighters will be looking for opportunities for suppression repair in areas that will not impact secure control lines.
The weather today will be milder than the last few days. Temperatures in the valley will be 63-68 degrees with minimum relative humidity of 46-58%. Winds will be light, blowing upslope then southwest at 4-8 mph. Light rain is expected during the day, with a 35% chance of wetting rain greater than 1/10th inch.
Due to active fires and fire suppression activities, Westside Road is 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. Those living on the Westside Road closest to Ball Creek, Burton Creek, and Clark Creek are in “READY” fire pre-evacuation status. Residents of Boundary County, Idaho can visit https://www.nixle.com or text their home zip code to 888777 to sign up for emergency alerts. To learn more about “READY SET GO”, visit https://bit.ly/3wi0jMu .
Temporary Flight Restrictions are still in place air space over the Katka Fire (2-7802) and the Russell Mountain Fire (2-1621) for aviation safety. Remember that temporary flight restrictions also apply to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones.