August 1, 2013

Mica Bay wildfire was human-caused, official says

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A wildfire that threatened three homes south of Coeur d’Alene earlier this week was caused by burning paper that blew out of a campfire, officials said.

The fire burned 18 acres east of U.S. Highway 95 in a rural residential area near Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Mica Bay. A homeowner had started a campfire Tuesday afternoon when gusty winds spread embers from the paper, said Shane O’Shea, assistant fire warden for the Idaho Department of Lands in Coeur d’Alene. Suppressing the fire was a multi-agency effort, including units from local fire districts, IDL and the Forest Service. The fire was contained that evening.

People can be held responsible for suppression costs when a fire is caused by human negligence or willful disregard for safety, O’Shea said. IDL is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire, so the department hasn’t determined whether it will bill the homeowner, he said.

Though IDL has shutdown debris burning in Kootenai County as a result of recent dry conditions, campfires are still allowed in Kootenai County, O’Shea said. However, a shovel and bucket of water should be nearby.

The Mica Bay fire is the second human-cause wildfire in North Idaho in recent weeks. A July 22 fire that burned 6.5 acres of private land west of Q’emiln Park was also human-caused and remains under investigation, O’Shea said.

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