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Priest Lake put on evacuation notice

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office has put the Priest Lake area under a Level 1 evacuation notice and is asking that only local residents drive on Highway 57 north of Priest River, which is the only way to access Priest Lake.

A Level 1 notice means that residents should be on alert and may be asked to evacuate if conditions deteriorate.

The Tower Fire burning near the Washington-Idaho border has grown to 8,695 acres and is still very active with tree torching. More than 30 homes and outbuildings are threatened.

While some of the fire is in the Idaho Panhandle Forest, the fire has not actually crossed the state line into Idaho, said fire spokesman John Cambra. However, Priest Lake is close to the border in the area where the fire is burning and most of the fire’s recent growth has been toward the lake.

The Big Meadows area has been put on a Level 2 evacuation notice, which means residents should be packed and ready to go.

The Tower Fire is now part of the Kaniksu Complex along with six smaller fires burning in the Colville National Forest, including the 515 acre Baldy Fire north of Ione.