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Fire burning at Ross Creek

| September 13, 2006 12:00 AM

A fire started by lightning last Wednesday in the Ross Creek drainage had grown to 307 acres by Monday but is being classified as a low threat due to its distance from people, facilities and improved areas.

The fire is burning approximately 2 miles west/northwest of the Ross Creek Cedars recreational area and 2 miles south of Spar Lake.

The Three Rivers Ranger District's Type 4 team has taken command of the fire. In addition to firefighter and public safety, key areas of interest and protection include the private property to the south, the Genesis Mine and Ross Creek Cedars. The fire is receiving daily reconnaissance flights, which have shown that the fire is within a manageable location. As an additional safety precaution, there are established geographic "trigger points" that would elevate the application of resources, if necessary, to further suppress the fire.

The fire is active in steep ground with further movement being terrain and fuel-driven. Growth is primarily along the ridgeline to the east with some slop over the ridge to the north. Fire behavior specialists continue to monitor the fire where the current and foreseeable activity is confined within an acceptable location largely in part to the rocky firebreaks.

The fire was initially attacked with an arsenal of air support and smokejumpers. Firefighters have since been released from the complex and air attack is on standby if needed. Land to the east was previously burned in the great fires of 1910, making the fuels less dense and the fire more manageable.

The Kootenai National Forest has been experiencing unseasonably hot and dry conditions. Weather will continue to influence the overall momentum and management of the fire. Predictions include the passage of a cold front with winds continuing from the west.

Ross Creek Trail No. 142 from west of the Ross Creek Cedars to the end is closed. Cub Creek/Spar Peak Trail No. 324 from the trailhead and the Mount Vernon/Spar Trail No. 513 is also closed until otherwise notified. The Ross Creek Cedars scenic area and all the campgrounds in the area are currently open.

Stage 1 Fire restrictions are in place. This restriction applies to all lands outside of city limits regardless of ownership. Specifically this level of restriction means the following:

* No campfires or charcoal fires except in developed sites and in concrete or metal rings.

* No campfires in rock rings.

* No smoking except inside structures, vehicles, developed recreation sites or areas cleared of all flammable materials for at least 3 feet in diameter.

* No restrictions on liquid gas grills.