August 17, 2011 in News

Crews gain upper hand on Kellogg fire

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Shoshone County Fire District 2 is responding to a fire that started about 2 p.m. today whose origins may be suspicious in nature.

The fire is burning on 20 to 25 acres, but fire officials say it’s mostly contained and is not growing larger. Crews will likely fight the fire through the night.

“We’re starting to get an edge on it,” said Len Young, fire warden of Cataldo.

A large plume of smoke can be seen coming off a hill in the Kellogg/Wardner area.

The fire is not currently threatening any structures. However, Silver Mountain Resort is keeping its gondolas running as part of its emergency protocol to prevent any one spot on the gondolas from getting too hot.

“Pretty much we’ve got crews covering everything and it’s in good shape,” said Dale Costa, Shoshone County Fire District No. 2 Chief.

No injuries have been reported in the blaze. The fire’s cause is unknown, but Costa said it’s being investigated as a suspicious fire.

Gusts and warm, dry weather increased the fire’s aggressive behavior earlier in the day, complicating firefighters’ work. Now, officials say the winds have died down and temperatures are cooling with nightfall, aiding their efforts.

Rocks on the east side of the burning hill are also slowing progress some. The fire crested the hill earlier today and is burning on the other side.

Crews from Shoshone County, the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Department of Lands are responding. A private 20-person crews from Coeur d’Alene is also on scene, and a single-engine air tanker and one large air tanker are flying over the fire and dumping fire retardant.

The fire has been named the Silver Peak Fire, according to the Coeur d’Alene Interagency Dispatch Center web site, but Young said they’re calling it the Silver Fire, for a street in the area.

Winds of 10 miles per hour, with gusts up to 22 miles per hour, are complicating firefighting efforts and aggravating the fire. However, there is no red-flag fire warning for that area.

“It’s a pretty good size,” said fire volunteer Nuel Wallace earlier this afternoon. “The wind is our biggest enemy right now.”

North Idaho College’s Silver Valley Center closed for the day due to the fire, according to an NIC news release.

The fire wasn’t an immediate threat to the campus, but it’s “too close for comfort,” said Stacy Hudson, NIC’s public information coordinator.


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