Kaniksu Complex (Tower Fire) at 26,119 acres; 80% contained - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Kaniksu Complex (Tower Fire) at 26,119 acres; 80% contained

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Tower Fire burning in the Colville National Forest forces mandatory evacuations for 3 campgrounds. Tower Fire burning in the Colville National Forest forces mandatory evacuations for 3 campgrounds.
CUSICK, Wash. -

UPDATE: 12:15 p.m. September 19: Fire crews assessed containment strategies on the Kaniksu Complex Fire Saturday, which resulted in some changing numbers on the fire. At last report the Kaniksu Complex fire was 26,119 acres and 80 percent contained, but fire officials stress the change in containment percentage was not due to significant fire activity.

Crews on the complex continue operations to clean up areas the complex has burned. These tasks include repairing dozer and hand line with heavy equipment and by hand, placing wood straw on areas with little vegetation to prevent erosion, removing hazard trees, and rehabilitating roads. There are still areas with persistent heat which need to be mopped up.

UPDATE: 10:00 a.m. September 13: The Kaniksu Complex, which includes the Tower Fire and six smaller fires, has a total acreage of 26,093 acres. The entire perimeter is not identified as requiring containment line. Of that identified for containment, 90 percent of the work is complete.

Despite another hot, dry day, containment lines on all fires in the Kaniksu Complex held firm on Saturday. Firefighters continued working to extinguish hot spots, clear roadways of hazard trees, repair dozer line and mop up containment lines. Crews on the south and east perimeters of the Tower Fire focused on suppression repair, patrolling for hot spots and salvaging logs for timber sales. On the west perimeter, firefighters concentrated efforts on mop up work and hitting hot spots within the dozer line in the Mill Creek area. Crews in engines patrolled the northern perimeter in search of hot spots. The hot weather did produce a slight increase in fire activity on the Grease Creek Fire but there were no breaches of containment lines. Firefighters again patrolled the Onata Fire for hot spots while continuing dozer line repair work on the Baldy Fire. Temperatures are expected to cool slightly Sunday with the relative humidity creeping up but firefighters will likely have another busy day on the line. The incoming Type 3 Incident Management Team, set to assume command of the fire on Monday, will spend the day shadowing the Alaska Type 2 team that has managed the fire for the past month. The more-than 200 military personnel that have been assisting with suppression efforts for the past few weeks were demobilized on Saturday. They will return Sunday to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

UPDATE: 11:00 a.m. September 12: As of Saturday morning The Kaniksu Complex, which includes the Tower Fire and six smaller fires, has a total acreage of 26,198 acres and containment of 79 percent.

Another day of hot, dry weather produced increased fire activity on the Tower Fire on Friday. Helicopters and water-scooping aircraft were used to subdue hot spots that surfaced on the western and northern perimeters. Hotshot crews completed indirect line on the northern tip of the fire while also seeking out hot spots. On the southern half of the fire, crews continued to patrol, mop up and reinforce containment lines. Firefighters on the Grease Creek Fire spent the day patrolling saw lines, searching for hot spots and brushing out roads to be used as potential fire breaks. Crews patrolled the Onata Fire looking for any remaining heat. On the Baldy Fire, crews completed rehabbing hand lines and worked on repairing dozer lines. With even hotter, drier conditions forecast for Saturday, containment lines could once again be tested.

Here is a roundup of fire activity:

  • Tower Fire: 24,301 acres, 84% containment. Located 6 miles northeast of Usk, Wash., and 6 miles west of Priest Lake, Idaho.
  • Onata Creek Fire: 546 acres, 100% containment. Located 8 miles east/southeast of Ione, Wash. This fire is in patrol status.
  • Grease Creek Fire: 629 acres, 19% containment. Located east of Sullivan Lake.
  • Hall Mountain Fire: 39 acres. Located on Hall Mountain. This fire is in patrol status.
  • Slate Creek and South Fork Slate Creek Trail fires: 1 acre and 167 acres, respectively. Located near the northwest boundary of Salmo-Priest Wilderness.
  • Baldy Fire: 515 acres, 100% containment. Located 6 miles north of Ione, Wash.

UPDATE: 10:25 a.m. September 6: At last report the Kaniksu Complex Fire was 26,175 acres and 40 percent contained.

Due to weather and safety concerns, crews were delayed from heading out to the fireline Saturday morning. After an evaluation by fire managers, crews returned to the line to continue with mop-up, hazard tree removal and reinforcing line. Weather moderated fire behavior, allowing firefighters to gain ground on fires within the complex. More rain was expected but only 0.37 inches was recorded by 6 p.m. Saturday along with cooler temperatures.

Here is a roundup of fire activity:

  • Tower Fire: 24,296 acres, 35% containment. Located 6 miles northeast of Usk, Wash., and 6 miles west of Priest Lake, Idaho. Crews continued mop up where they could, removing fallen trees and clearing roadways. Crews patrolled sections of line reinforcing containment.
  • Onata Creek Fire: 546 acres, 91% containment. Located about 8 miles east/southeast of Ione, Wash. Onata didn’t receive as much rain, allowing hand crews to continue mop up hot spots. Dozers were used to break up berms along firelines.
  • Grease Creek Fire: 611 acres. Located east of Sullivan Lake. Road conditions prevented crews from reaching the fire Saturday.
  •  Hall Mountain Fire: 39 acres. Located on Hall Mountain. Currently in patrol status.
  • Slate Creek and South Fork Slate Creek Trail fires: 1 acre and 167 acres respectively. Located near the northwest boundary of Salmo-Priest Wilderness. A crew hiked into the South Fork Slate Creek Trail Fire and started construction of hand line.
  • Baldy Fire: 515 acres, 100% containment. Located 6 miles north of Ione, Wash. Currently in patrol status.

UPDATE: 10:00 a.m. September 5:

The Kaniksu Complex fire, which includes the Tower Fire and six smaller fires has a total acreage of 26,206 acres and 38 percent containment. The reduced acreage is the result of better mapping. The Tower Fire is now a total of 24,329 acres with 34 percent containment.

After awaking to the first frost of the season, firefighters continued to gain ground on the Tower, Onata Creek and Grease Creek fires on Friday, evidenced by the increase in containment. Temperatures warmed by late morning, and crews spent the day building, reinforcing and mopping up around much of fire’s perimeter.

All evacuation alerts have been lifted for areas around the Tower Fire.

UPDATE: 3:00 p.m. September 3: 

The Tower Fire, along with six smaller fires, comprises the Kaniksu Complex. The total acreage of all fires in the complex is 26,327 acres and total containment is 22 percent as of 6:00 p.m., Sept. 2. All evacuation alerts have been lifted for areas around the Tower Fire. However, Forest and road closures along with burning restrictions are still in effect.

? Tower Fire: 24,450 acres, 12% containment. Located 6 miles northeast of Usk, Wash., and 6 miles west of Priest Lake, Idaho. Firefighters on Wednesday were able to contain the northern-most spot fire of two, north of the fire, and began work on the other. Crews are opening up old forest roads to gain access in the steep terrain of the upper Squaw Valley. Containment lines around much of the southern end of the fire are being held and improved. Military crews and firefighters are removing snag hazards in the Browns Lake area while others continue to advance dozer line into Mill Creek. Crews are going direct along the fire’s edge on the east side.

? Onata Creek Fire: 546 acres, 39% containment. Located about 8 eight miles east, southeast of Ione, Wash. Crews are nearly done mopping up a 15-acre slop-over on the northern edge of the fire and anticipate completing that work today.

? Grease Creek Fire: 609 acres. Located east of Sullivan Lake. Firefighters began building line from their anchor point, both east and west, for the start of containment line.

? Hall Mountain Fire: 39 acres. Located on Hall Mountain. Currently in monitor status.

? Slate Creek and South Fork Slate Creek Trail fires: 1 acre and 167 acres respectively. Located near the northwest boundary of Salmo-Priest Wilderness. Currently in monitor status.

? Baldy Fire: 515 acres, 100% containment. Located 6 miles north of Ione, Wash. 

Update to Road Closures: Road closures on Bead Ridge Road, Cooks Lake Road, Mystic Lake Road and Bear Paw Road will be removed at midnight tonight September 3, 2015. Baldy Mtn (located 6 miles north of Ione) road closures were removed on September 2, 2015.

UPDATE: 5:10 p.m. September 2:  As of 4 pm Wednesday, September 2, all evacuation levels with the Tower Fire in Pend Oreille County and Bonner County are lifted.   All Forest closures, road closures and burning restrictions remain in effect.

UPDATE: 5:10 p.m. September 1: The Kaniksu Complex fires is now 25,862 acres Tuesday evening. It remains 22 percent contained. The largest fire in the complex, the Tower Fire, is reported to be 24,021 acres with 13 percent containment.

Fire crews say cooler weather with higher humidity that followed Sunday’s rainfall led to minimal fire behavior on the Kaniksu Complex’s seven fires Monday. Firefighters used these favorable conditions to secure, extend and mop up firelines.

On the Tower Fire, firefighters were able to secure existing fireline and construct new line directly along the fire’s edge, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the fire. The increased acreage of the fire is due to better mapping.

UPDATE: 3:00 p.m. August 31: As of Monday afternoon, the combined acreage of the Kaniksu Complex, made up of the Tower Fire and six smaller fires, is now 25,444 acres and 22 percent contained. The Tower Fire on its own is 24,021 acres and 17 percent contained. Fire behavior is expected to stay minimal due to the wetting rain received across the area on Sunday. Growth is not expected.

Level 1 Evacuation alerts remain in effect for the areas listed below. In Level 1, residents should be ready and should monitor emergency services. Those with special needs, pets, livestock or that need transportation assistance should take early precautionary movement to relocate.

  • Big Meadow/Squaw Valley
  • The Kalispel Reservation
  • The Pend Oreille River Corridor (From the Usk Bridge on the south to LeClerc Creek Road on the North)
  • The Best Chance Road area
  • The Bear Paw Area
  • The Hwy 57 Corridor that includes the Nordman area and the west side of Priest Lake.

UPDATE: 10:05 a.m. August 30: As of Sunday morning, the Tower Fire is an estimated 19,928 acres and 9 percent contained. The Tower Fire, along with six smaller fires, is all part of the Kaniksu Complex. The total acreage of all fires in the complex is 21,308 acres with 24 percent containment. Firefighters are patrolling the smaller fires but the majority of firefighting resources are assigned to the Tower Fire.

Saturday was an incredibly dynamic day for residents and firefighters. The strong cold front and associated high winds caused the fire behavior to increase significantly and resulted in an  increase in evacuation levels for several communities on the eastside of the Tower Fire. Those evacuation levels have since dropped, however, a Level 2 Evacuation Alert remains for Big Meadow/Squaw Valley. Level 2 means you are set to leave on very short notice.

The Priest Lake, Idaho, area and Highway 57 are open to all traffic. All businesses along with federal and state campgrounds at Priest Lake are open.

UPDATE: 1:55 p.m. August 29: New level three evacuation orders have been issued for the Tower Fire Saturday afternoon. The Pend Oreille County and Bonner County Sheriff’s Office’s have issued a Level 3 Evacuation Order at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, for the Big Meadow/Squaw Valley area. Strong winds have led fire managers to make the recommendation. 

A Level 2 Evacuation Alert has been issued for both the north and south Hwy 57 corridor. This level indicates there is significant danger to your area and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready at a moment’s notice.

The Tower Fire, along with six smaller fires, is all part of the Kaniksu Complex. The total acreage of all fires in the complex is 19,863 acres. Firefighters are patrolling the smaller fires but the majority of firefighting resources are assigned to the Tower Fire.

The Tower Fire, burning six miles west of Priest Lake is currently 18,478 acres and 10 percent contained.

UPDATE: 4:55 p.m. August 28:

As of Friday afternoon the Tower Fire has burned 16,335 acres with 10 percent containment. The total acreage of the Kaniksu Complex is now 17,510 acres.

The Bonner County Sheriff’s Office has expanded the current Level 1 Evacuation Alert for everything north of Squaw Valley on the West side of Hwy 57 to include the Nordman area. This action is being taken at the recommendation of the Alaska Incident Management Team. The Team advises that due to forecast strong winds on Saturday afternoon they “expect the fire to continue to move to the north and the north east”. The current Level 1 Alert for the west side of Hwy 57 was based upon the limited routes out of the area; the expanded alert is based upon forecasted fire behavior. Hwy 57 however remains open to all traffic and all businesses along with Federal and State Campgrounds at Priest Lake are open.

There will be a community meeting Friday night, Aug. 28, 7:30 p.m., at The Kalispel Tribe of Indians’ Camas Center for Community Wellness, 1981 Le Clerc Rd North. in Cusick, Wash. Fire managers will discuss the current fire situation and future plans.

Another community meeting is scheduled for Saturday night, August 29, 7:30 p.m. at Priest Lake Elementary School at 28047 ID-57 in Priest River, Idaho.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. August 27: 

The Tower Fire is currently estimated at 14,671 acres with 10% containment as of Thursday afternoon. 

Update: The Tower Fire continues to grow slowly to the west and northwest, as well as to the north near Pyramid Pass. Firefighters will be challenged on Thursday as weather conditions merit another Red Flag Warning day.

On the south end, Wednesday was the first day that firefighters did not have to cope with multiple spot fires from activity during the night. Crews worked the dozer lines and forest roads, to keep fire from spreading to the southwest. West of Brown’s Lake, crews improved sawline and reinforced Road 100 and Cee Cee Ah Road in preparation to burn out from the roads to the main fire. The objective here is to keep the fire out of the Cee Cee Ah drainage if at all possible. The fire is currently 2 miles from the Kalispel tribal lands (triggering Level 1 evacuation).

Southeast of South Baldy, crews patrolled and improved the contingency dozer line extending to the east. There were no breaches of that line on Wednesday.

On the north end of the fire, firefighters worked diligently to prevent fire spread and assure that the fire did not cross Squaw Valley Road in any more places. Below Pyramid Pass, there was some fire growth in the Klahowya Creek drainage and above the Mill Creek Road. The Structure Protection Group worked at Lamb Creek on Wednesday, patrolling and evaluating the situation, should the fire advance this far.

Other areas were holding the firelines despite some torching and intense burning.

Structure protection teams have finished in the Squaw Valley area and are moving to the West Priest Lake Area. The Lamb Creek assessment is a priority; the Bear Paw area is reportedly looking good. The Kalispel Tribe Natural Resources Department is building a contingency line on an existing trail.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter has authorized the Idaho Air National Guard to assist with the fire efforts. About 40 Guard personnel will staff traffic control points and provide information on roads leading into the fire area near Priest Lake.

Weather: ***RED FLAG WARNING FROM 1300 – 2100***

Hot…dry…windy and smoky conditions continue Thursday. Winds this morning should be down valley…becoming upslope/up valley then swinging around to south or southwest again over the Tower and Onata Fires. Afternoon winds will likely be noticeably stronger from the southwest on the ridges. Fire activity/behavior may increase by late morning and winds are expected to peak around 15 – 20 mph. The persistent strong inversion produced very smoky conditions. The potential for a defined smoke column and vertical growth still exists today.

Identified Values at Risk on Tower Fire:

Private residences in Big Meadows/Squaw Valley, Best Chance, Bear Paw, and Highway 57 North/South corridor in Priest Lake, and the Pend Oreille River Corridor including the Kalispel Reservation. Campgrounds at Browns Lake, South Skookum Lake, Kings Lake, Pelke snow mobile warming shed. Private and State timber lands. Ancient cedars.

Planned actions for today include:

Reinforce dozer line to Brown's Lake. Advance and burnout dozer lines and 5080 Road to establish and reinforce anchor point.

Defend Squaw Valley Road and keep fire west of control line. Defend anchor point to protect Bear Paw and Squaw Valley primary structures.

Reinforce the 1920 Road and the 100 Road. Prepare road for burn out operations.

Assimilate Australian overhead into line positions.

Continue to reinforce structure protection plan. Install water handling equipment on primary structures. Assess and prepare Lamb Creek structures.

Evacuation Levels:

The Level 2 Evacuation alert remains for Big Meadow/Squaw Valley. Simply stated, level 2 means to be ready to leave on very short notice.

Level 1 Evacuation alerts remain for the areas listed below. In Level 1, residents should be ready and should monitor emergency services. Those with special needs, pets, livestock or that need transportation assistance should take early precautionary movement to relocate.

The Kalispel Reservation

The Pend Oreille River Corridor (From the Usk Bridge on the south to LeClerc Creek Road on the North)

The Best Chance Road area

The Bear Paw Area

The Hwy 57 Corridor from Priest River North.

(The Level 1 Evacuation for Hwy 57 is being issued because fire fighters are concerned about the fact that Hwy 57 is the ONLY logical escape route south from the Priest Lake community. It is NOT because of imminent fire danger to the area.)

A Public Information meeting is currently scheduled for Pend Oreille County residents of the Level 1 Evacuation area for Friday, August 28th, 7:30 PM at the Kalispel Camas Wellness Center Gym.

Closure Information:

An area closure remains in effect for Browns Lake and North and South Skookum Campgrounds.

All private timber lands owned by Stimson Lumber Company and Idaho Forest Group (Riley Creek are closed to public access.

The Colville and Idaho Panhandle National Forests have closures in the area of the fires. The Colville National Forest, Newport and Sullivan Lake Ranger Districts, Tower Fire Incident area, south of (but not including) County Road 3521 and Forest Road 1934-000 (East Branch of LeClerc Creek Road), west of the eastern Colville National Forest boundary, north of the section lines one mile south of Township 34N, and east of the Pend Oreille River.

The Colville National Forest is at Industrial Fire Protection Level 4; which essentially means no activity on the Forest.

In Idaho, Highway 57 is open to all traffic. All businesses along with Federal and State Campgrounds at Priest Lake are open.

UPDATE: 2:00 p.m. August 24: 

The Kaniksu Complex Fire has burned nearly 11,000 acres and is currently 5% contained. The complex consists of several fires including the Tower and Baldy fires. 

There are no mandatory evacuation orders for these fires. If that happened, it would be called Level 3, which means it is time to go.


The Level 2 Evacuation alert remains for Big Meadow/Squaw Valley. Simply stated, level 2 means you are set to leave on very short notice.


The Level 1 Evacuation alert remains for the BearPaw Area and the Hwy 57 Corridor from Priest River North. The Level 1 Evacuation for Hwy 57 is being issued because fire fighters are concerned about the fact that Hwy 57 is the ONLY logical escape route south from the Priest Lake community. It is NOT because of imminent fire danger to the area. In Level 1, residents should be ready and should monitor emergency services. Those with special needs, pets, livestock or that need transportation assistance should take early precautionary movement to relocate.


Residents and recreationalists living in and/or visiting the area are encouraged to stay informed of any changing conditions. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in place.


Priest Lake Area: Highway 57 is open to all traffic. All businesses along with Federal and State Campgrounds at Priest Lake are open.
Tower Fire:

UPDATE: 4:50 p.m.: The total acreage of the Kaniksu complex has grown to 11,159 acres. The complex includes the Tower fire and several smaller fires in the area. The Tower fire is burning 10,238 acres and the complex is 5 percent contained Sunday afternoon.

The fire grew approximately 800 acres on Saturday but remained within containment lines. 

The fire is staffed with 558 firefighters including 265 Army personnel from Joint Base Lewis McChord from Washington.

Evacuation levels are unchanged from Saturday: 

The Level 2 Evacuation alert remains for Big Meadow/Squaw Valley. Simply stated, level 2 means to be ready to leave on very short notice.

The Level 1 Evacuation alert remains for the Bear Paw Area and the Hwy 57 Corridor from Priest River North. The Level 1 Evacuation for Hwy 57 is being issued because fire fighters are concerned about the fact that Hwy 57 is the ONLY logical escape route south from the Priest Lake community. It is NOT because of imminent fire danger to the area. In Level 1, residents should be ready and should monitor emergency services. Those with special needs, pets, livestock or that need transportation assistance should take early precautionary movement to relocate.

UPDATE: 2:35 p.m. August 22: A public meeting is scheduled for Priest Lake Elementary School Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.

The Level 2 Evacuation alert remains for Big Meadow/Squaw Valley. Simply stated, level 2 means to be ready to leave on very short notice.

The Level 1 Evacuation alert remains for the BearPaw Area and the Hwy 57 Corridor from Priest River North. The Level 1 Evacuation for Hwy 57 is being issued because fire fighters are concerned about the fact that Hwy 57 is the ONLY logical escape route south from the Priest Lake community. It is NOT because of imminent fire danger to the area. In Level 1, residents should be ready and should monitor emergency services. Those with special needs, pets, livestock or that need transportation assistance should take early precautionary movement to relocate.

Residents and recreationalists living in and/or visiting the area are encouraged to stay informed of the changing conditions. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in place.

UPDATE 8:45 a.m. Saturday (8/22): The Tower Fire is burning on the Pend Oreille Divide with fire on both the Colville and Idaho Panhandle National Forests. The fire is now burning 9,906 acres and is 2% contained. 

Total acreage of 9,906 reflects the entire Kaniksu Complex. Tower Fire is burning 8,685 acres, Baldy is burning 515 acres, Grease Creek is bunrning 75 acres, Onata Creek is burning 600 acres, HalMountain is burning 20 acres, Slate Creek is burning 1 acre and South Fork Slate Trail is burning 10 acres.

UPDATE 9:30 a.m. Friday: 

The Kaniksu Complex Fire, consisting of several fires that include the Tower Fire and Baldy Fire, is burning in the Idaho Panhandle and Colville National Forests and is estimated to have burned 8,600 acres and is still only 2% contained. 

The Tower Fire is the largest of the fires and is a bit more than 8,200 acres, burning in both Washington and Idaho. Most of the containment is on the Washington side. Thursday, fire crews moved from the Washington side of the fire to the Idaho side and began digging fire lines in preparation for winds coming out of the west to push the fire towards homes in the Squaw Valley area just outside of Priest Lake. 

There are about 250 firefighters working the front lines now. They'll continue to dig firelines and do home protection. They're predicting wind gusts about 15mph, but the terrain is so rugged that it's really hard to predict how big gusts will be and where they'll occur. 

UPDATE:Thursday 4:00 p.m

The Kaniksu Complex Fire, consisting of several fires that include the Tower Fire and Baldy Fire, is burning in the Idaho Panhandle and Colville National Forests and is estimated to have burned 8,600 acres and is only 2% contained. 

Evacuation alerts were issued by Bonner County (ID) and Pend Oreille County (WA) by emergency management officials about 4:00 pm, August 19th;

A Level 1 alert for the BearPaw area and a Level 2 for Big Meadow/Squaw Valley are in place. Simply stated, level 1 means to prepare for evacuation and level 2 means to be ready to leave on very short notice.

Residents and recreationalists living in and/or visiting the area are encouraged to stay informed of the changing conditions. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in place.

RED FLAG WARNING: Today through Friday.

For the next 48 hours, crews will face critical weather and extreme fire behavior. Potential winds may reach 35 mph gusts Friday afternoon. Crews are working to construct contingency fire lines on the east flank of the fire in anticipation of where the fire might move. Changing weather patterns late Friday are expected to usher in lower temperatures and higher relative humidities and could be accompanied by scattered thundershowers and lighting. Significant firefighter hazards include extensive snags, bug, drought and fire weakened, trees, steep terrain, limited safety zones, rolling debris and re-burn potential.

Closures: An area closure remains in effect for Browns Lake and South Skookum Campgrounds on the Newport Ranger District and for the North Skookum Campground (Washington DNR). As of 10 am on Wednesday, August 19, there are no evacuation orders for this fire.

Officials have closed a portion of the Newport Ranger District of the Colville National Forest due to the current Tower Fire. The closure limits any type of access for a rectangle that bounded on the north by the Mill Creek Road (Forest Road 1200-000) from Le Clerc Road to Pyramid Pass, on the east by the Colville-Idaho Panhandle National Forest Boundary, on the west by Pend Oreille River, and on the south by the section line one mile south of Township 34.

UPDATE: Thursday 7:30 a.m.

More evacuations have been ordered by authorities in Idaho and Washington as the Tower Fire continues to burn. 

The Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Office issued Level 1 evacuations have been ordered for residents in the Bear Paw vicinity. This means residents in the area should prepare to leave if ordered. 

The Bonner County Sheriff's Office has issued a Level 2 evacuation in the Big Meadow and vicinity. This means residents should be prepared to leave at a moments notice because a significant danger exists. So far no homes have been destroyed, but there are several that are threatened. 

The Tower Fire is estimated to be 7,802 acres and only 5% contained. 

One resident in the area, Ron Hardin, says he attended a community meeting Wednesday night and was told by authorities the fire is now about 7 miles from Squaw Valley along Highway 57. Fire officials told Hardin the fire is growing in three directions and firefighters are trying to find areas to attack and stop the advance toward Priest Lake. 

Update: The Tower Fire burning in the Colville National Forest near Priest Lake has grown to between 2,000 to 3,000 acres in size. The smoke in the area is making it difficult for crews to get an exact estimate on the size of the fire.

Right now the fire is 0 percent contained. 

A Type 3 incident management team has been called in from New Mexico to help fight the fire. Crews have very limited resources because of all the fires burning in the region. About 30-60 firefighters are on the scene of the fire Saturday.

Previous coverage:

Fire officials say the Tower Fire burning in the Colville National Forest has forced the evacuation of three campgrounds. 

The Browns Lake Campground, Skookum Creek Campground and South Skookum Creek Campground have been evacuated. Authorities say the fire is estimated to be around 500 acres as of Friday afternoon. 

If you are in the area and can safely take a picture, please post them on our Facebook page. 

This is a developing story. Please keep checking back for updates. 

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    BOISE, Idaho - Education officials say thousands of science, technology, engineering and math jobs are going unfilled each year in Idaho due to a lack of skilled workers. The Lewiston Tribune reports that education officials told the state Legislature's joint budget committee last week that 7,000 STEM jobs went unfilled in Idaho last year - double the number from the prior year.

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    BOISE, Idaho - Education officials say thousands of science, technology, engineering and math jobs are going unfilled each year in Idaho due to a lack of skilled workers. The Lewiston Tribune reports that education officials told the state Legislature's joint budget committee last week that 7,000 STEM jobs went unfilled in Idaho last year - double the number from the prior year.

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