At least five illegal fires have been set recently along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes south of Harrison, and the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police Department needs help solving them.
“The damage to the trail hurts bikers, walkers and runners because the fires are being set right in the middle of the trail,” said Tribal police Chief Keith Hutcheson, adding that the fires also pose a risk of sparking a wildfire at this time of year. “We’re concerned that these fires will spread to the homes nearby and cause serious damage.”
Evidence of the most recent fire was discovered Tuesday around 9 a.m. between Harrison and Heyburn State Park, Hutcheson said. Police found beer cans and garbage around the burn site. They also found evidence of several more fires set in the same half-mile area.
The fire damaged a newly paved portion of the trail near Lake Coeur d’Alene. Repair costs are estimated at $3,000 to replace asphalt and concrete, Hutcheson said, adding that police have no suspects.
Hutcheson said he doesn’t know whether the fires were set deliberately by vandals or by people out partying and drinking. “We really don’t have many leads.”
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a 72-mile trail that follows the Union Pacific Railway line from Plummer to Mullan, near the Montana border.