Firebug still at large

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HAYDEN — Cooler weather has slowed, but not halted, someone starting small ground fires near residences along the northeast border of Dalton Gardens near Hayden.

Since June, firefighters from Northern Lakes Fire District and Kootenai County Fire and Rescue have responded to more than 15 human-caused fires within a quarter-mile radius of the intersection of 15th Street and Woodland Drive. On Oct. 5, an intentionally lit fire, approximately 20 by 40 feet in size, was reported near the location of a blaze responders put out earlier in the summer.

"Residents are still extremely concerned and anxious that the person or persons who intentionally lit the fires have not been apprehended, and the fire departments share their feelings," said Northern Lakes spokesman Jim Lyon.

Those same residents, Lyon said, have been excellent in responding to a call from fire agencies for any information that could be relevant to the case. Many have called investigators to report suspicious activities or individuals while paying extra attention to anyone in the area.

However, the vigilance of residents has not yielded any results.

"We were called on several fires that were within a minute, or very few minutes, of being started, but we did not get any eyewitnesses or license plates of cars in the area at the time of the fire," Lyon added.

The arrival of colder and wetter weather has decreased unexplained and intentionally lit fires in the area, according to Lyon. Meteorologist Randy Mann told The Press Wednesday that, starting next week, temperatures are expected to drop and the chance of rain will increase.

"It could be a very chilly Halloween," Mann said. "And perhaps a wet Halloween as well."

Mann added he is currently tracking several storms set to hit the region in the next few weeks. Those storms, he said, could bring trace amounts of snowfall to high elevations.

"But I don't see any chance of snow happening down here," Mann said.

The meteorologist said the overall weather pattern will initially bring cooler weather to the region before El Nino brings mild and warmer weather at the beginning of November.

"It's not going to be like this where it's days on end of dry weather," he added. "We will definitely have some shower activity."

Anyone with information on the person or persons responsible for the fires is encouraged to call (208) 777-8500 or (208) 659-2716.

"We are still actively pursuing any information and continue to work cooperatively with other agencies to share information and investigation efforts," Lyon said.

If there is an actual fire or fire-related emergency, call 911.

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