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Area fires see growth

by CAROLINE LOBSINGER
Hagadone News Network | August 20, 2022 1:00 AM

Both the Eneas Peak and Diamond Watch fires have grown over the past few days, area fire officials said.

An infrared flight over the Boundary County fire showed the fire doubled in size, growing to 323 acres over the last day. The fire is located about 15 miles north/northwest of Bonners Ferry.

The nearby Diamond Peak Fire, located in Pend Oreille County, Wash., about 5.5 miles dues west of Nordman, also grew significantly in the past few days. An infrared mapping flight shows the fire has grown to 701 acres, U.S. Forest Service officials said Friday.

Eneas Peak Fire

The fire remains north of Fisher Creek and south of Eneas Peak with all new fire growth located on the fire's western edge.

"Firefighters hiked the northeast area of the fire above Westside Road and to the south of Fisher Creek for opportunities to safely build handline while fire managers assessed the fire by air for additional confinement lines," Kary Maddox, U.S. Forest Service public information officer, said.

Fire managers continue to seek aerial support to drop water on the fire, and have done so since the fire was sparked by lightning on Aug. 13.

"However, aircraft have been directed to other fires burning in the state and region based on values at risk, often where private property and infrastructure are imminently threatened," Maddox said. "At this time no structures are threatened on the Eneas Fire. "Fire managers will continue to request aircraft support for planned suppression actions on this fire."

With daytime temperatures in the low 90s and nighttime temperatures in the low 60s, Forest Service officials said the fire is experiencing low nighttime humidity recovery, causing it to be active both during the day and at night.

Smoke from the fire, which is listed at 0 percent containment, can be seen in the Kootenai River Valley and is expected to settle in the valley, Maddox said.

Diamond Watch Fire

Visible from Highway 57 in the Priest Lake area, infrared mapping shows the Diamond Watch has grown to 701 acres. The fire is listed at 0 percent containment with most of the fire's heat continuing to be seen of Diamond Peak's southern slope.

The fire has reached containment lines on southeastern and southwestern portions of Forest Service Road 308 and parts of the northwest portion of the fire just southeast of Petit Lake on FSR 657.

"The forest roads surrounding the fire are being used as containment lines and have been reinforced with the clearing of vegetation from heavy machinery paralleling the roads," Maddox said.

Fire crews are utilizing Type 6 fire engines and standing ready to suppress the fire as it reaches the containment lines, Forest Service officials said. FSR 308 is being used as the southern and western containment lines and FSR 657 has been reinforced on the east with the use of a D5 bulldozer connecting FSR 308 to Diamond Creek.

"Diamond Creek will act as a natural barrier keeping the fire contained on the northern edge in addition to FSRs 311 and 657," said Maddox. "Fire crews are nearing completion of the western containment line as heavy machinery complete clearing vegetation and fuel from the side of FSR 308."

The best access to the Priest Lake area from the Colville National Forest will be through Newport, Washington via north U.S. 2 and Priest River via Highway 57.

Closures and evacuations:

On the Diamond Watch Fire, closure orders are in effect for FSR 211, 308, and 1362H in the vicinity of the fire. However, FSR 1362 remains open. Petit Lake and its associated campsites are within the closure area.

On the Eneas Peak Fire, there are no closures or evacuations currently n place.

However, when living in fire prone areas it is recommended that all area residents have an evacuation plan in place including having all important documents, pictures, prescriptions, and pets gathered up and easily transportable.

Residents of Boundary and Bonner counties can visit nixle.com or text their home's ZIP code to 888777 to sign up for emergency alerts.

Information: Diamond Watch Fire, bit.ly/3pgEs46; Eneas Peak Fire, bit.ly/3PBUikK

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(Map courtesy U.S. FOREST SERVICE)

An infrared map shows the boundaries of the Diamond Watch Fire in Pend Oreille County, Wash.

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(Map courtesy U.S. FOREST SERVICE)

An infrared map shows the boundaries of the Eneas Peak Fire in Boundary County.

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(Photo courtesy U.S. FOREST SERVICE)

An aerial view of the Eneas Peak Fire in Boundary County.