Sheriff’s Office reports Caribou fire has claimed 40 structures; fire growth slows 2nd straight day

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This map of the Caribou fire was released Wednesday morning. (Courtesy map)

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has announced that 10 homes and 30 outbuildings have been destroyed by the Caribou fire, according to a Wednesday morning fact sheet that also reports minimal fire growth and strengthened community defenses since Tuesday.

In addition, containment remains at 10 percent while acreage increased 915 acres to 19,985 and assigned personnel increased by 20 to 195, the fact sheet states. Tuesday’s cooler temperatures and lighter winds were credited with reducing fire activity.

The smoke that has been blanketing the area helps to dampen fire effects, Forest Service Spokesperson Nate Gassmann said Tuesday, but it also delays the use of additional air resources that have been assigned to the fire.

“Aircraft will not be able to resume operations until smoke clears and visibility improves,” the fact sheet states.

Wednesday’s winds were forecast to be light and variable and the inversion expected to be “persistent.” Warmer and drier weather will follow a high-pressure system through Thursday, the fact sheet states.

On the ground, crews today will “use heavy equipment to improve the fireline southeast and north of West Kootenai, and extend the southern contingency fireline south of the community” and later “continue night patrols to protect homes,” according to the fact sheet.

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

The Caribou fire is one of four significant fires happening in Lincoln County. The others are the West Fork fire, the Moose Peak fire and the Gibralter Ridge fire.

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