Forested Tubbs Hill Park in downtown Coeur d’Alene has been a firefighting hotspot this year, with 15 blazes − about twice the annual average. More than half of them were arson.
To help the fire department quickly reach the park’s inner reaches, the city plans to build a primitive road on top of the butte to connect a fire road on the west side of Tubbs Hill to a water reservoir service road on the east side. The new road, which is mentioned in the city’s open space plan, would be about 1,100 feet long.
With the connector in place by next fire season, Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Lauper said, “We can get to the fire quicker, we can deliver people and water to the fire.” .
The road also will give firefighters better escape routes, Lauper said.
“Let’s say a wind-driven fire requires us to evacuate: We can get our people and equipment off the hill.”
Most of this year’s fires on Tubbs Hill have burned close to Lake Coeur d’Alene, allowing the city to use its fire boats, or have been near the existing access road, Lauper said.
But much of the park is not so accessible, he said.
The city is looking at a couple of potential alignments for the connector road − routes that will require as little tree and brush removal as possible, Lauper said.
“The idea is to flag it and give people a chance to take a look at it,” he said of the alignment. “That will happen very soon.”
The road also will be used for work such as fuel reduction, selective vegetative management and exotic plant and weed control, the city said.
There is no cost estimate yet for the road project.
The latest human-caused fire broke out Tuesday afternoon, and firefighters were mopping it up Wednesday morning.
Three people have been charged with setting fires on the hill over the past summer. One 13-year-old boy admitted to setting six of the fires.
The Tubbs Hill Foundation and the city’s Natural Open Space Committee support the connector road.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.