Yesterday’s red flag wind conditions resulted in rapid fire spread of existing wildfires, and several notable starts across the region.
On the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, the Bernard Fire started in Echo Bay on the south end of Lake Pend Oreille and burned uphill toward Bernard Peak. Aerial resources attempted to drop water on the fire last evening, but at the time of discovery, very steep terrain, and wind-driven fire behavior prevented effective suppression actions last night.
The fire was estimated at 80 acres this morning and is now staffed with three engines, two initial attack modules, an Air Attack plane, a lead plane, two Large Air Tankers (LATs), and two helicopters.
Ground crews will be working with Air Attack to assess the most effective locations for retardant applications and helicopter bucket work.
Fire managers are establishing an area closure for public and firefighter safety that will be published as soon as available.
There are currently no evacuations associated with the Bernard Fire, but any changes to evacuations, closures, or road conditions will be updated on the fire’s InciWeb page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7160/
Forest visitors should be aware of fire engine traffic on Forest Service Road 332 (the Bunco Road). Also a reminder, “If you fly, we can’t!”
If drones are flown over a fire, air operations could be suspended until the risk of a mid-air collision with a drone is resolved. When firefighting aircraft are grounded for any reason, fire crews lose access to a valuable resource which can adversely affect the safety and efficiency of the overall firefighting effort.