The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and the Timberlake Fire Protection District in Athol planned to escort evacuees to their properties in the Cape Horn area east of Bayview starting at 8 this morning. Six homes and two other structures were destroyed by the fire, which blew up Sunday and swept through timber and brush in steep terrain.
On Tuesday night, the fire’s size was revised to 1,380 acres, down from an earlier estimate of 2,000 acres. Officials said it was 35 percent contained, including the portion bordered by Lake Pend Oreille, and the cause remained under investigation.
An interagency team took over management of the Cape Horn fire Monday after Idaho Gov. Butch Otter declared Kootenai and Bonner counties a disaster emergency area.
Ralph Jones, the owner of a coffee shop in Bayview, said the fire was still burning about 500 yards above his shop late Tuesday afternoon. The line seems to be holding despite winds from the north to the southwest.
“We don’t feel threatened,” Jones said. “Certainly guarded.”
A meeting in the Bayview Community Center drew about 300 people Tuesday night. Residents and landowners directly or indirectly affected by the fire were invited to attend.
Firefighters on Tuesday also braced for high winds and possible thunderstorms as cooler air moved into the region.
“The meteorologist is cautioning us about a cold front with 30-mph gusts from time to time,” said Jim Hyland, Washington Incident Management public information officer. “The aircraft are working really hard to get some good control lines.”
The National Weather Service had issued a red-flag warning, meaning there is “extreme fire growth potential,” for northeastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle.
• Lightning Monday night started a 73-acre fire about 6 miles southwest of Grandview. The West Jen fire was reported at 9 p.m., according to the BLM. Two engines, one dozer and a water tender contained it at 3 a.m. Tuesday. The fire is expected to be fully controlled Tuesday evening.
• The Gardena Fire, which broke out north of Gardena Sunday evening, was fully contained Monday evening, the Idaho Department of Lands reports.
The fire, which burned more than 200 acres and briefly closed a portion of Idaho 55 Sunday, will enter “monitor” status, and firefighters will check for hot spots over the next several days. The Horseshoe Bend Fire Department, BLM and U.S. Forest Service helped the Department of Lands manage the fire.
• Firefighting agencies are conducting a flight Tuesday to check for any undiscovered fire starts in areas where lightning strikes were recorded Monday night. More thunderstorms and continued hot, dry weather are forecast this week; officials ask that anyone out recreating take extra care to prevent igniting a fire.
“Things like checking your safety chains to make sure they are not dragging, shooting in areas free from vegetation, and stirring your campfire with water, making sure it’s cool to the touch before leaving, will help us decrease the number of human-caused fires allowing fire resources to focus on potential lightning ignitions,” said Lance Okeson, BLM Boise District fuels program coordinator, in a news release.