Tribe sets fire precaution level at 3

— Industrial fire precaution level 3 has been set for the Colville Indian Reservation.

The change will allow for continued logging operations with the condition that contractors post a 24-hour fire watch. The level had been at 4.

“Our logging operation is not only a stumpage payment to our tribe, it remains as an asset for our people to have these professionals out there on a 24-hour fire watch as we maintain available emergency staff on the Bridge Creek Fire,” said Councilman Jack Ferguson.

In addition, the tribe has closed roads across the reservation because of extreme fire conditions. Except for county road home access, all gathering roads are closed.

Emergency staff is dealing with the Bridge Creek Fire near Inchelium.

“The closure allows for any federal, state or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of duty, in the closed areas,” said the tribe.

Public areas that remain open are limited to campground and swimming sites at mission end Omak Lake, Cameron Lake, Buffalo Lake, Owhi Lake, McGinnis Lake, Rogers Bar, AA campground, Keller Park, net pens, Twin Lakes, Rocky Point and Barnaby Creek campground.

Campfires are not allowed, but liquid and bottled gas stoves are.

No internal combustion engines may be used, except for motor vehicles.

Smoking is allowed only in closed vehicles and buildings, developed recreations sites and cleared areas.

No off-road/off-trail vehicle travel or travel on roads not cleared of standing grass or other flammable material is allowed. Barricaded or otherwise blocked roads may not be used.

Tribal officials said an evacuation plan is in place and will be provided for impacted residents if needed.

“We may experience road closures for Bridge Creek and Highway 21 due to extreme smoke and visibility issues,” tribal officials said. “Twin Lakes is being utilized for fire air support plans; stay to the shorelines.”

Tribal officials ask that people be cautious of their surroundings.

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