The heavy blanket of smoke enveloping Kootenai County — along with the rest of the Northwest — stems primarily from wildfires in Oregon and California, but that doesn’t mean we locals don’t have our own fires to put out.
The Bernard Fire was originally discovered in the mid-afternoon hours of Labor Day along Lake Pend Oreille about a half-mile south of Bayview. Fire officials have stated the cause of the fire was man-made, and locals further believe it started from a campfire. In the days after, the fire burned up steep terrain until it summited the ridgeline and quadrupled in size as it exploded west, where it now stands at 660 acres.
Only 20 percent contained and fueled by timber and brush, U.S. Forest Service firefighting efforts include five engines, a dozer, an excavator, several aircraft and the Lolo Hotshots. Their efforts have kept the fire from spreading over the past 36 hours.