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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Pioneer Fire grows on Friday; hot weather and dry conditions to continue to pose challenges

UPDATED: Fri., July 30, 2021

By Emma Epperly and Nico Portuondo The Spokesman-Review

The fire near Priest River grew on Friday and continues to have no containment as firefighters battle the blaze in extreme temperatures.

The Pioneer fire was first reported at about 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Burning in heavy timber and steep terrain, the fire is now 267 acres as of Friday night and 0% contained, according to Idaho Department of Lands.

Idaho Department of Lands has an aerial fleet attacking the fire with seven Fire Bosses, six air tankers and one type-2 ship. Two heavy helicopters and one type-2 ship has been ordered in addition to fight the blaze.

Firefighters will continue to work as an excessive heat warning is in place and dry conditions are expected to continue through Saturday.

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations for Saddler Creek, Skunk Cabbage, Mundy and portions of Bodie Canyon and Slippery Slope roads.

Priest River Community Church will provide shelter for those displaced and large animals can be boarded at the Newport Rodeo Grounds, according to the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office will continue the same evacuation orders, but will revaluate them on Saturday. Evacuation notices can be found and alerts can be signed up for on the Bonner County Sheriff’s Website.

Highway 57 is open for normal traffic. Officials encouraged motorists to continue at normal speed and not slow down to look at the fire.

John Heyn’s North Idaho Type 3 Incident Management Team will take over command of the initial fire attack early Saturday morning, until then the team on the fire will coordinate with local resources.

Here’s an update on other fires burning in the region:

The Cedar Creek fire near Winthrop lost some containment and has grown since earlier in the week. It now stands at 36,922 acres and is 11% contained, according to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest .

The nearby Cub Creek 2 fire has also proved a challenge for firefighters and is even bigger. It is 54,858 acres and 24% contained, according to the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest .

The Summit Trail fire near Colville made a considerable push north and east on Thursday, according to California Incident Management Team 10. It is now 17,812 acres and 12% contained.

The Hardesty Valley and Hazard Hill fires in Spokane County have been increasingly neutralized by firefighters. The Hardesty Valley fire is 30 acres and 90% contained, while the Hazard Hill fire is 125 acres and 60% contained.

Progress also continues on the Sherwood fire in the Spokane reservation, which is 1,257 acres and 75% contained, according to the Northeast Region-Department of Natural Resources.

In Idaho, the Snake River Complex fire south of Lewiston is at a whopping 109,262 acres but containment continues to rise to now 87%, according to IDL.

Finally, the Character Complex fire is 6,383 acres and 30% contained, according to Idaho Panhandle National Forest Service.

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