Smoke blowing into North Idaho; firefighting agencies on high alert

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  • Smoke from British Columbia made its way into the Panhandle Thursday, and can be seen in this satellite image recorded Thursday at 1:30 p.m. (Courtesy of IDAHO PANHANDLE NATIONAL FOREST)

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  • Smoke from British Columbia made its way into the Panhandle Thursday, and can be seen in this satellite image recorded Thursday at 1:30 p.m. (Courtesy of IDAHO PANHANDLE NATIONAL FOREST)

  • 1

The smoke in the air contributing to an ongoing air quality advisory in North Idaho is coming from some far away places, according to a report from Idaho Panhandle National Forest officials.

Smoke from British Columbia made its way into the Panhandle Thursday, and can be seen in a satellite image recorded Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Smoke from wildfires in Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada also contributed to air quality in North Idaho. The advisory states the air quality is moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups - those with lung or heart conditions, the very young and very old.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions called for by Idaho Fish and Game remain in place, banning all fires except within a designated recreation site, within a fire structure - a metal or concrete improvement provided by the administrative agency, specifically designed for the purpose of containing a campfire or cooking fire - or on their own land and within a fire structure as described previously.

Wildfire management officers have called for Stage 1 Fire Restrictions to go into effect at midnight Thursday. This effects all public lands located in Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, Shoshone, Benewah and Latah Counties of Idaho and areas within Pend Oreille County, Washington; Sanders County, Montana; and Lincoln County, Montana that are administered by the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.

Reader Boards

Fire Restriction messages will be posted on starting tomorrow on variable messaging boards located at Priest Lake, Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene River and St. Joe Ranger Districts. Commercial and Dept. of Transportation reader boards will also post messages to remind forest visitors the restriction are in place.

Forest Closures

Several trails and roads in the Cougar Fire area are being closed for the protection of public health and safety due to wildfire activity. More information can be found at www.fs.fed.us/ipnf.

The National Preparedness Level is at 5, the highest value from a scale of 1 to 5. The Northern Rockies is at Preparedness Level 3. The Idaho Panhandle Hot Shots, Type 1 Firefighting Crew returned home yesterday from 14 days on the Rattlesnake Fire near Riggins Idaho on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. They will remain on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests to assist with wildfires here.

Hot and dry conditions are continuing to cause moderate to active fire spread.

A red flag warning remains in effect from noon today until 11 p.m. Friday for hot, dry, unstable conditions followed by gusty winds.

A cold front arrives late Friday into Saturday. Isolated dry thunderstorms may develop followed by breezy winds Saturday.

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