Bayview fire crosses 1,000 acres

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Hagadone News Network | September 18, 2020 1:00 AM

BAYVIEW — The Bernard Fire that started along Echo Bay a half-mile south of Bayview had reached 1,019 acres by Thursday afternoon, cresting over the mountain and its ridgeline as it spreads south.

Idaho Department of Lands has now joined in the fight alongside USFS and other local firefighters. No structures have reportedly burned yet, and IDL public information officer Karen Robinson said Bayview is in no further jeopardy today than it was at the beginning of the week.

“We have the Lolo Hotshots up there today,” she told The Press Thursday afternoon. “There’s a lot of heavy equipment up there looking at improving that dozer line. Right now, the fire’s creeping around near Cat Creek.”

Even though the town isn’t in danger, locals can still get themselves into a new and dangerous situation. While the nearby inlets are often popular spots for anglers to cast for kokanee, the fire is causing rockslides down the bowl.

“I’ve seen that with my own eyes,” Robinson said. "I saw the crews getting their boats ready when the rockslides started. It’s going from the top of the cliff face, actively rolling rocks and dropping them in the water.”

Robinson said crews spent all day Wednesday warning sportsmen of the threat and strongly advising boaters to stay out of the area.

“Mix that with the fact that smoke (from the Oregon and California wildfires) is really keeping the visibility low,” Robinson added, “and you could have a rock fall on top of you and not even know it until it was too late.”

Roughly 100 firefighters and support personnel are on the scene. The weekend’s forecast gives a chance of rain along with likely cooler temperatures in the area, which could quell the fire that started Labor Day. High winds that afternoon stoked a man-made fire along the shore that remains under investigation.

“We’re hoping someone comes forward with something more than just rumor,” Robinson said. “We’re hoping someone was taking pictures that day or could say, ‘I saw that with my own eyes.’”