Discovered Monday, the Bernard Fire is burning in steep terrain near Bernard Point, overlooking Echo Bay on the south shore of Lake Pend Oreille. Current size is estimated at 255 acres and the cause is under investigation. Resources assigned include five engines, two initial attack modules, the Lolo Hotshots, one dozer, one excavator, and several aviation assets.
The varied terrain within the fire perimeter necessitates the need for several different suppression strategies. The northern portion of the fire is burning on an extremely steep slope, from the shoreline of the lake up to the ridge. Rolling rocks and logs have been observed, and the terrain is not conducive to safe or effective ground operations, so aviation assets are working the north face to check the spread to the east and west. Moving around to the western section (also called flank), the fire is burning on the east side of Bernard Peak where heavy equipment bosses are guiding a dozer and an excavator to construct contingency firelines. The south and east side of the fire is being staffed by engines and ground personnel, working to hold roads as firelines and calling in aviation support when needed.
A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has been put in place for the Bernard Fire. This includes drones, which can interfere with firefighting efforts when illegally operated within a TFR. Boaters are also asked to stay clear of firefighting aircraft that are using Echo Bay to fill buckets and scoop water.
An area closure was put in place on September 9 for firefighter and public safety in the vicinity of the Bernard Fire.