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Westside Road pre-evacuation status lifted

by EMILY BONSANT
Hagadone News Network | October 18, 2022 1:00 AM

BOUNDARY COUNTY — Kootenai River Fire managers have lifted the pre-evacuation status for the Westside Road area, Boundary County officials said Monday

Fire activity in the area has decreased significantly and fire managers do not anticipate a need for residents to evacuate due to area fires, Andrew O’Neel, Boundary County Emergency Management director and county public information officer, said in a press release.

The Kootenai River Complex Fires are estimated to have reached 24,311 acres and goals to bring the fire to containment have reached 87% completion. There are 54 personnel assigned to the complex.

A significant weather pattern change is expected to begin on Friday and will persist into the weekend with cooler temperatures, rain and mountain snow, which will further diminish the fire activity, O’Neel said.

Residents on Westside Road were the last area to be living under the “Ready” pre-evacuation notice. With that status now lifted, no county residents are currently under any pre-evacuation readiness status.

While life is not yet back to “normal” for residents on Westside Road, removal of the pre-evacuation status is a good sign that things are moving in the right direction, he said.

The control lines are holding where the fire has slowly backed down to it. Where the fire threat has passed, fire crews will begin removing additional pumps, hoses, sprinklers and water tanks around properties on Westside Road.

O’Neel said rehabilitation work also continues in some areas, including reseeding, installing water bars for erosion control and using an excavator to pull the lines back in places.

Current and anticipated fire behavior has lessened significantly, Bonners Ferry District Type 3 officials wrote in a press release. Fires will continue to burn toward established control lines and will be monitored by firefighters on the ground.

Helicopters may be used to slow fire spread when necessary. In addition a weather shift is expected in the coming week, bringing cooler temperatures and precipitation.

The Forest Service closure orders around the Complex include off-trail and off-road land in addition to specified roads and trails. Officials ask individuals to avoid all areas within the closures for your safety due to active fire and other associated hazards.

The Long Canyon and Katka fires continue to burn with low to moderate intensity, officials said. Both fires remain unstaffed, and firefighters continue to monitor them from the air and lookout points.

The following National Forest Trails and Roads are closed: Ball Creek Road (FR 432), Trout Creek Road (FR 634), Cascade Creek Road (FS 2411), Russell Mountain Trail (No. 12), Russell Ridge Trail (No. 92), Ball and Pyramid Lakes Trail (No. 43), Pyramid Pass Trail (No. 13), Pyramid Peak Trail (No. 7), Fisher Peak Trail (No. 27), Trout Lake Trail (No. 41), Myrtle Peak Trail (No. 286), Burton Peak Trail (No. 9), Parker Ridge Trail (No. 221) and Long Canyon Trail (No. 16).

Temporary flight restrictions remain in place for air space over the Russell Mountain Fire (2-5373) for aviation safety. TFRs apply to unmanned aircraft systems or drones.