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Fire danger rising quickly in region

| July 9, 2023 1:00 AM

Fire conditions are rapidly changing in North Idaho with a sudden increase in the number of wildfires, Idaho Department of Lands officials said.

Nearly 40 wildfires have been fought in the region since the last week of June. IDL crews have been dispatched to 16 fires and the Forest Service has fought 13 wildfires. Many of the fires under IDL protection were human-caused, officials said.

“Drier conditions in the higher elevations of the mountains have resulted in the fire rating increasing to Very High, with a forest-wide fire danger of High,” said Brian Hicks, fire warden for the Pend Oreille Forest Protective District.

Fire officials are asking the public and industry to increase their caution as a spark in dry conditions can start and carry a fire a long distance very quickly.

• Those wishing to enjoy a campfire need to use a fire ring and clear all debris away from around the ring. All fires need to be dead out before going to bed or leaving the site.

• Remember not to park vehicles or ATV/UTVs over dry grass. Carry water and a shovel when hitting the trails on ATV/UTVs.

Secure chains on trailers and make sure your tires are in good shape to avoid flat tires. Sparks along a roadway can start fires for several miles.

“Now is the time for industrial landowners to check slash and burn piles to make sure they are not still smoldering, increasing the risk of sparking a larger fire as temperatures rise and the fire ratings increase,” Hicks said.

Most northern IDL supervisory areas are restricting state burn permits to small hand piles and burn barrels. State burn permits are required from May 10 through Oct. 20 each year. Restriction on issuing permits change as fire conditions change.

A bill for the full cost of fighting the fire may be sent to anyone who starts a wildfire due to negligence.

IDL is fully prepared and staffed for this fire season but officials said the agency needs everyone’s help.

Information: idl.idaho.gov/fire-management