Kootenai County Bans Outdoor Burning

By Tom Bacon

As of Monday, outdoor burning - except for recreational fires - is banned in Kootenai County. 

10 straight days of 90-plus heat, very low humitidy and no rain all combined to prompt fire districts in Kootenai County to issue the county-wide burn ban. 

An assistant fire wardern for the Idaho Deaprtment of Lands said fire districts have the authority to fine vioators who burn yard waste, slash piles or burn barrels. 

He said recreational fires are permitted, but a bucket and a shovel must be nearby. 

In neighboring Washington, similar burn bans havwe been imposed, and in addition, logging and industrial operations in forested areas are under strict fire prevention rules. 

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources calls the set of rules "Industrial Fire Precaution Levels." But they're better known as a Partial Hoot Owl. 

Work in wooded areas can be carried out only at night and in the early daylight hours, the idea being that humidity levels are higher at the time. 

Chainsaws must have approved exhaust systems, and crews must stand by for an hour following last use of chainsaws to conduct a fire watch. 

A fire extinguisher must be nearby, and a shovel must be no futher than two minutes away.

The Partial Hoot Owl covers virtually all of Eastern Washington, including parts of Spokane, Stevens and LIncoln counties. 

The possilbituy of rain later this week may alleviate some of the worries about wildfires. But lightning coming with possible thunderstorms across the region may also quickly touch off new fires in the tinder-dry vegetation.

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