Gov. Otter Tours Cape Horn Fire in North Idaho 

Evacuees told they can return home as fire reaches 40 percent containment

click to enlarge - The Cape Horn fire burns in rugged terrain rising from the south end of Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho Panhandle. -  - WILDFIRETODAY.COM
  • The Cape Horn fire burns in rugged terrain rising from the south end of Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho Panhandle.
The Cape Horn fire, burning into its fourth day in steep, wooded terrain at the south end of Lake Pend Oreille, was reported 40 percent contained on July 9—an improvement of 5 percent from the day before.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who declared the fire an emergency for Bonner and Kootenai counties on July 6, toured the area as residents who had been evacuated were told they could return to their homes. Eight structures, including six homes, have been reported destroyed since the fire was sparked on July 5. The cause remains under investigation.

Originally reported at 2,000 acres, more accurate mapping put the blaze at 1,380 acres. As of July 9, it had further shrunk to 1,155 acres.

A total of 322 personnel are working the fire near the small town of Bayview, and hot temperatures and winds have been a concern. Firefighters are also contending with rugged hillsides, snags and old mine shafts. Meanwhile, falling rocks and debris pose a hazard to residents trying to access their homes in the Cape Horn area.

According to a Bayview area blogger, however, not all evacuees are being permitted to return. A July 9 post on Bay Views states that thousands of seasonal visitors maintain summer residences in RVs, float homes and traditional houses in the picturesque lakeside town.

Bay Views contends that as year round residents are returning to check on their properties, seasonal residents are being kept out by law enforcement, which operates roadblocks going into the area with access limited to those who have filled out paperwork to prove their residence status. 

"I encourage all seasonal residents and boat owners to bring with them any receipts or other evidence that they are not just looky loos, which get in the way of the fire fighters but have a legitimate reason for coming to Bayview," Bay Views wrote. "They have a financial interest in this place."
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