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Stage 1 fire restrictions abandoned

| August 24, 2005 12:00 AM

Stage 1 fire restrictions on Lincoln County's portion of the Kootenai National Forest have been discontinued, a move which once again allows backcountry users to have campfires.

Precipitation received last week was adequate for lifting the restrictions as of early Friday, Aug. 19, said Neil Nelson, manager of the Kootenai Inter-Agency Fire Dispatch Center.

Jeremy Priess of the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation's Kalispell office said another factor weighs into whether restrictions can be lifted. What he called the "energy release component" also is considered along with weather.

"That tells us how readily the fuels will burn," Priess said.

Stage 1 provisions were imposed on Aug. 4. Regional fire managers were poised to move to Stage 11 restrictions with Hoot Owl provisions on Aug. 14, but enough rain fell just before that deadline to prompt a reprieve.

Fire officials noted that federal and state land in Lincoln County is covered under the Stage 1 discontinuance.

However, Stage 1 restrictions are still in place on the Sanders County portion of the Kootenai National Forest.

As of Thursday, Aug. 18, a total of 83 human-caused fires had been reported on Kootenai National Forest land during the current fire season. Those fires burned 1,015 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service.