Growth of Caribou fire slows and containment is 10 percent, yet structures still threatened

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A map of the Caribou fire released Tuesday morning. (Courtesy map)

After roughly doubling in size over the weekend, the Caribou fire grew minimally Monday, reaching 19,070 acres according to a fact sheet released 8 a.m. Tuesday that also reported no new structures had been lost and the fire was 10 percent contained.

It was a different story Saturday, when an unknown number of structures burned as the fire advanced quickly and evacuations were ordered. Officials haven’t released the number of properties that burned, but reported that the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office “escorted property owners to their homes” on Monday and would continue to do so from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesday to survey damages.

When “the western flank of the fire experienced gusty winds out of the northeast” Monday, “crews pulled back to safety zones,” the fact sheet states. “A 100-acre slop-over of the fireline was later contained … (and) structures in the Basin Creek area were evaluated and protection measures put in place.”

On Tuesday, officials reported that heavy equipment and firefighters would continue building fireline to the southeast part of West Kootenai, crews would continue protecting threatened property, and heavy equipment would continue to be used to continue building fireline on the west and north sides.

“Additional air resources are expected to arrive today,” the fact sheets states.

The weather forecast suggested some possible relief in the coming days, as a high pressure system was expected to “rebuild over the next two days bringing warmer temperatures with moderating wind intensity and direction,” the fact sheet states.

Still, officials report that “private property, structures, historic resources, recreational resources, timber, terrestrial and aquatic habitats” remain threatened by the fire.

An evacuation order remains in effect for the West Kootenai area north of Tooley Lake, while areas south of Tooley Lake and Basin Creek are under pre-evacuation notice.

The American Red Cross is providing free emergency services for evacuees at the Church of God at 1295 2nd Ave. in Eureka.

The number of people assigned to the fire Monday morning was reported to be 175.

The Caribou fire is located 21 miles northwest of Eureka and was caused by lightning on Aug. 11, according to an Inciweb incident information web page. About 10 percent of the fire is in Canada.

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