Regional News

Homeowners Urged to Use Caution When Returning Home

Sep 09, 2015

The recent cool and relatively moist weather pattern has significantly moderated fire activity and allowed firefighters to make significant progress towards containment on the Tunk Block and North Star fires.  As containment percentages increased, evacuation levels have been reduced allowing residents to go back to their homes.  

Landowners allowed into previously evacuated areas should use caution.  While the area immediately adjacent to homes and structures have been evaluated and deemed safe to return, Fire Managers encourage residence to refrain from wandering into the burned area.  These areas remain hazardous due to trees weakened by the fire, ash pits, hot spots and rolling rocks.  Ash pits are imperceptible from the surface and are holes full of hot ashes, created by burned trees and stumps.  Stepping into ash pits can cause serious burns.  

Areas within the fire boundary will continue to smolder and residents may see smoke and minor flare-ups of flame for some time.  These areas are being monitored by firefighters and will be suppressed if they pose a threat to residences.  Please do not call fire protection agencies unless the new flames are outside of the burned areas of the fire or burning near your home.  

“While significant progress has been made toward containment, the North Star and Tunk Block fires are not out and remains a threat to communities,” cautions Incident Commander, Ed Lewis.   Fire activity in the interior and especially along uncontained fire edges could increase with the warming and drying trend forecasted later this week.  

Smokey conditions will persist as interior islands of unburned vegetation may continue to burn within the fire perimeter.  Smoke movement will be influenced by prevailing winds.  During calm periods diurnal wind patterns will cause smoke to drift down valley during early morning hours.  By midday, as the day warms, winds will shift to up valley as prevailing winds begin to dominate.  Diurnal wind patterns are caused when cold air at night drains into low areas, causing down slope wind.  During the day, warm air from the sun heating the surface of the earth rises, causing upslope winds.

Forest and Colville Agency closures will remain in effect to provide for public safety.  Status of closures will be evaluated based on firefighting activity near or adjacent to roads and other public areas, current and predicted fire behavior and hazards to the public, such as snags, stump holes, rolling rocks, hot spots etc.

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