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News >  Idaho

Six structures destroyed in Bayview fire; governor declares it a disaster area

UPDATED: Mon., July 6, 2015

Smoke from the Cape Horn Fire can be seen from MacDonald's Hudson Bay Resort in Bayview, Idaho on Monday. (Kathy Plonka)
Smoke from the Cape Horn Fire can be seen from MacDonald's Hudson Bay Resort in Bayview, Idaho on Monday. (Kathy Plonka)
UPDATE: 3:50 p.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized using federal funds to help with firefighting costs on the Cape Horn Fire, and reports that firefighting resources onsite include eight air tankers, three helicopters and eight engines, with a Type II management team scheduled to arrive at the fire this afternoon. The fire was at 0 percent containment.

FEMA’s authorization makes federal grant funds available to reimburse 75 percent of the state of Idaho’s eligible firefighting costs, which include only firefighting and life-saving efforts, not assistance to individuals or businesses or infrastructure damage.

FEMA reported that the fire threatens a high-value marina, the Naval Acoustics Research Station and Farragut State Park, along with high-use recreation areas on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille.

The latest incident report on the fire reported that as of noon, it was burning on 2,000 acres with 0 percent containment, and eight structures were confirmed to have been destroyed, six of them homes. Evacuations are in effect, and local cell phone towers are having difficulty handling the volume of calls; people are being asked to stay off their cell phones except for emergencies, to allow firefighting communications and emergency response.

UPDATE: 12:50 p.m.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter just declared Kootenai and Bonner counties a disaster emergency area, which is a necessary step in securing federal spending to help cover the costs of battling the wildfire.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and individuals who have lost homes in the area,” Otter said in prepared remarks. “We will continue to support the impacted jurisdictions in protecting lives, property and businesses.”

The two counties each requested the disaster declaration late last night, officials said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping with the cost of firefighting and evacuations, according to the governor’s office. The funding generally is made available only when the risk of damage to homes and community infrastructure is high.

Read more: Bayview residents watch, wait and worry

Read more: Some Farragut campers evacuated, fire camp prepares to move in

UPDATE: 9 a.m.

A wildfire in northern Idaho has destroyed at least six homes and forced about 200 residents in an upscale lakeside community to evacuate as it ballooned to more than 3 square miles Monday.

The blaze started Sunday afternoon and burned through a mix of year-round residences and seasonal homes near the southern shore of Lake Pend Oreille, the state’s largest lake and a recreation and fishing destination. The flames have destroyed other buildings such as boat houses and pump houses in the Bayview area that includes expensive homes, especially next to the water.

About 100 firefighters on the ground put in a fire line between the fire and homes, but another 200 residents have been told to be ready to evacuate if needed, fire spokesman Jim Lyon said.

“We’re dealing with some extremely steep terrain,” he said.

The fight included four aircraft and a U.S. Navy boat that was dousing homes, but crews faced temperatures expected around 90 degrees Monday, with winds picking up in the afternoon. Those are the same conditions as on Sunday when the fire grew, Lyon said.

The blaze started near the lake shore and burned upslope through timber, Lyon said. He said a team of investigators planned to examine where the fire started to try to determine a cause.

“We have a good idea of where it started,” he said. “There were people out on a boat that saw it. It started down low at lake level, or near the edge of the lake, and traveled up and southwesterly.”

No injuries have been reported from the fire burning through a mix of private, state and federal land. —Associated Press

UPDATE: 7 a.m.

At least six homes along with other structures have been destroyed in a wildfire near Bayview that grew to more than 3 square miles Monday and forced about 200 residents to evacuate. The blaze that started Sunday afternoon was being fought by about 100 firefighters on the ground, four aircraft and a U.S. Navy boat dousing expensive homes near shore on the south end of Lake Pend Oreille. Fire spokesman Jim Lyon says the fire is burning through timber in steep terrain. No injuries have been reported. He says firefighters worked overnight to put in a fire line on the west side that they hope to defend on Monday. However, they are concerned about forecasted winds of up to 20 mph expected Monday afternoon. State officials are managing the fire but a federal team is expected to take over on Monday.

—Associated Press

UPDATE: 3:15 a.m.

A wildfire near Bayview has destroyed at least six structures and forced evacuations. The blaze started Sunday afternoon and burned around the southern end of Lake Pend Oreille, charring about a square mile of territory. Fire command officials say that six structures have been destroyed, but the types haven’t been determined. Officials say residences have been evacuated but neither the command nor the Bonner County sheriff’s department had details on the number late Sunday night. Crews set up a fire line to keep the flames from reaching Bayview. Crews used helicopters to drop retardant on the flames. Smoke was visible from Coeur d’Alene, about 25 miles to the south. The cause of the blaze wasn’t known.

—Associated Press

ORIGINAL STORY by Scott Maben / The Spokesman-Review

At least three houses near Bayview went up in flames Sunday afternoon in a fast-moving wildfire that began near the Lake Pend Oreille shoreline, raced up a steep hillside, and chased residents from dozens of cabins and homes.

As darkness fell, additional homeowners on the north side of Scenic Bay were encouraged to evacuate as the Cape Horn fire continued to burn out of control. Others in town were advised to be ready to flee the resort community by morning.

Crews on Sunday evening had set up a fire protection line along East Duwamish Drive to try to keep the flames from advancing into Bayview, said Jim Lyon, spokesman with Northern Lakes Fire District.

Residents need to heed the strong recommendation to evacuate threatened areas, and everyone else should stay away from Bayview to ensure firefighters can do their jobs, Lyon said.

The fire quickly grew to more than 600 acres and sent up a large plume of smoke visible from Coeur d’Alene to Sandpoint. The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office initially ordered residents to evacuate the East Cape Horn Road and East Perimeter Road area, which includes lakefront cabins and some large homes farther up the hill.

A rockslide temporarily blocked crews from reaching some of the homes in the fire’s path.

Residents and vacationing families gathered in Bayview to watch the fire move toward the town. Planes dropped loads of retardant and helicopters dumped buckets of lake water on the flames.

“I could sit at my house and see the flames come up over the hill,” said Norma Jean Knowles, property manager of Bayview Scenic Apartments & RV Park. “It’s real scary – very sobering. We’re a heavily treed area, it’s been exceptionally dry, and it was very, very windy today.”

Knowles, who lives on Perimeter Road, said she asked her tenants in Bayview to leave the area.

Tyler Davey, a mechanic at MacDonald’s Hudson Bay Resort in Bayview, said some cabin owners near the fire loaded possessions onto boats and brought them over to the marina in Bayview.

“The smoke is really limiting our visibility right now, but it’s really working its way toward town pretty quickly,” Davey said Sunday afternoon. “There are a lot of people hanging out at our marina hoping their house is still there.”

The fire began northeast of Bayview on the other side of Cape Horn from the community. Officials haven’t determined how it started.

The American Red Cross Greater Inland Northwest Chapter opened an emergency shelter for evacuees at Timberlake Senior High School in Spirit Lake.

Fires burn across Northwest

• In Stevens County, the 231 fire burning 7 miles south of Springdale was 25 percent contained Sunday evening. It had burned 880 acres since Friday. The Williams fire north of Colville was 40 percent contained Sunday evening after burning 332 acres since Friday. There were 266 firefighters on that blaze.

• A new, fast-spreading fire near the Central Washington town of Quincy burned 5,000 to 10,000 acres and temporarily forced the evacuation of several dozen homes Sunday. Gusty winds whipped flames late Saturday and scorched grass and sagebrush overnight. An order to evacuate 15 homes was lifted by Sunday morning. Elsewhere in Grant County, crews tackled a fire that started Sunday morning and had threatened a mobile home park in Moses Lake.

• In Asotin County 6 miles northeast of Anatone, the Gilmore Gulch fire broke out Sunday just after noon and grew to 2,500 acres, threatening ranch homes and crops.

• About 21 miles south of Republic, Washington, the Twenty-One Mile Grade fire has burned about 2,200 acres, two homes and outbuildings, and was 20 percent contained Sunday. There were 347 firefighters assigned to that fire.

• The Junction fire that scorched more than 2,000 acres south of Goldendale, Washington, destroying a home, an apartment, a hay barn and several outbuildings, was contained. But the 250-acre Horseshoe fire continued burning unabated on the western flanks of Mount Adams, where it has closed a number of trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail.

• Smoke from wildfires in Canada cast a haze over the Port Angeles area Sunday. Winds are blowing smoke from wildfires burning on Vancouver Island southward, over British Columbia and into the Olympic Peninsula.

• In Oregon, one cabin burned and other structures on scattered ranches were threatened by the Corner Creek fire, which had burned nearly 26,000 acres on the west side of the South Fork John Day River.

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