The fire that burned over 80 acres and threatened several homes and a church was most likely caused by an ATV, or four wheeler as they are known in these parts. Fire officials have confirmed to me that it is better than a 90% chance that riders off road paralleling highway 95 near Athol, Idaho, sparked the fire. Several witnesses observed this activity just moments before the fire broke out. The pink circle above is the ignition point. It lies a few feet from highway 95 in a swale that ATV riders commonly use.
As of Noon today, level two fire restrictions are in place which prohibits such off road activities among many others. No smoking outdoors, no off road activities by ANY motor vehicle.Devices such as chain saws between 1:00 pm and 1:00 am are prohibited. All outdoor burning is prohibited. Thoughtless persons caused the large property loss from the last fire by not using common sense. The lack thereof tends to force authorities into severe measures to protect the rest of us. Our fields and forest are tinder dry just waiting for any small spark to set off a firestorm.
Later Friday afternoon, a local swore that a cigarette caused the above fire. He said it was in the Coeur d'Alene Guess, so it must be true. Oh how nice it must be to be so solid in ones opinions. At first glance, with the fire starting along side of the road, it would appear to a reporter that wasn't interested in spending much time on the story, that a cigarette caused it. Brad Wagner, Incident Commander on the fire, and employee of BLM, said empahatically that is was not a cigarette. Later, Timberlake Fire District confirmed several reports that an ATV had been seen just minutes before the blaze broke out riding through the dry grass.
Bottom line, is that if we expect the newspapers to lead us with accuracy, we had better hire more accurate people. Oh, and the fire burned in excess of 100 acres, the 40 referred to in the Press being the part south of Remington Road. The fire hopped over Remington Road and burned to the driveway leading into the Baptist Church. BLM firefighters from the Tongass Nat'l Forest in Alaska held the line there.
Photo by Taryn Hecker Thonpson.
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