A fire by any other name

Panhandle now has 57 wildfires

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A tree is engulfed in flames during a wildfire Friday alongside Interstate 90 near Fourth of July Pass. Fire helicopters and airplanes dumped water and fire retardant to battle the flames.

COEUR d'ALENE - It was bound to happen - after naming 56 wildfires in North Idaho over the past few days, fire officials struggled to name number 57.

One of the latest fires, which erupted near the junction of Interstate 90 and Highway 3 near Cataldo early Friday morning, was dubbed the "Not Creative Fire" for a reason.

"The person in charge of naming the fire was not feeling really creative at 3 in the morning," said Sharla Arledge, a public information officer for the Idaho Department of Lands. "Sometimes you have to find some humor in all of this."

The Idaho Panhandle National Forest issued a fire update Friday morning that gave details on 57 wildland fires that are burning in the Idaho Panhandle, stretching from St. Maries to Bonners Ferry.

While many of the fires are a couple of acres or less in size, most of the lightning-caused fires are burning in steep rugged terrain in the higher elevations. As of Friday afternoon, 22 of those fires were contained, but eight of them were not even staffed yet, according to the update.

"Most of the fires are less than an acre but may have the potential to grow as predicted winds and dry conditions persist," Jason Kirchner, an IPNF spokesman, wrote in an email to The Press. "At this time there are no evacuations ordered or planned, but members of the public should be aware of the extreme fire danger and plan ahead in case of emergency."

With the large number of fires burning in the Panhandle, IPNF has opened a public fire information line at (208) 765-7383. It will be staffed from 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. until further notice.

"Callers can expect to receive information about fire locations, road and trail closures, and safety information including evacuation preparations," Kirchner said. "Extreme dryness, high winds and the large number of small fires make it very difficult to have precise information at all times. Fire information officers staffing the lines will provide the most up-to-date information available at the time."

The fire update included six of the largest fires that were being aggressively fought on Friday:

* Parker Ridge Fire is at 1,200 acres and is zero percent contained. It started on July 29 northwest of Bonners Ferry. It is a Type 3 fire. Firefighters are protecting structures and constructing fire lines, while air support drops water to slow the fire's progress.

* Marble Creek Fire is at 90 acres and is zero percent contained. It started Aug. 11 near St. Joe Road and is a Type 3 fire.

* Slaughter House Fire is at 47 acres and is 75 percent contained. It started Aug. 10 in the West St. Joe area. it is a Type 3 fire.

* North Grizzly Fire is at 100 acres and is zero percent contained. It started on Aug. 12 in the Coeur d'Alene River drainage. It is a Type 3 fire and is still active on all flanks.

* Not Creative Fire is at 20 acres and is zero percent contained. It started on Aug. 13 near Rose Lake. It is a Type 3 fire.

* Tower Fire is at 150 acres in Idaho, and is not contained. That fire started in Colville National Forest, and is visible from Priest Lake. The fire came east of South Baldy Mountain, burning in heavy timber and downfall. It is a Type 4 fire.

* Benewah Creek is at 20 acres and is not contained. That fire started on Aug. 13 in the West St. Joe area, and is threatening a signal tower in the area. Fifty firefighters are working the fire around the clock. It was just upgraded from a Type 4 fire to a Type 3 fire on Friday.

A helicopter makes its way to the scene of a wildfire after scooping water from Rose Lake on Friday. The fire was burning in a heavily forested area near Fourth of July Pass.


 Smoke emanates from a fire in a heavily wooded area Friday near Interstate 90 and Fourth of July Pass.

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