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Residents Return Home as Crews Continue Fight Against Cape Horn Fire in North Idaho

Gov. Otter tours fire zone: 'Whenever we have a crisis in Idaho, it's everybody's crisis'

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Nearly a week after it was first reported, the Cape Horn fire is steadily shrinking as fire crews have battled the blaze from 1,380 acres (revised from an earlier estimate of 2,000 acres) to 1,202 acres. Currently the fire is 40 percent contained.

As of July 9, 402 personnel were working the fire, which was apparently sparked on July 5 and quickly spread through steep terrain at the south end of Lake Pend Oreille. Residents in the Cape Horn Mountain area and parts of the nearby town of Bayview were evacuated earlier in the week as eight structures were destroyed, including six homes. Reports suggest at least 200 residents of the lakeside community were evacuated as upwards of 237 structures were threatened.

- Evacuees were told they could return to their homes on Friday morning, July 10. -  - BEN OLSON/SANDPOINT READER
  • Ben Olson/Sandpoint Reader
  • Evacuees were told they could return to their homes on Friday morning, July 10.
The morning of Friday, July 10, residents were told they could return to their homes, as all roadblocks and closures were lifted and power had been returned to the area.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter toured the fire damage on July 9, three days after declaring a disaster emergency for Bonner and Kootenai counties. 
- Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter toured the fire zone on July 9. -  - GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
  • Governor's Office
  • Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter toured the fire zone on July 9.

"Whenever we have a crisis in Idaho, it's everybody's crisis," Otter reportedly told members of the media at the fire zone.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, led by the Idaho Department of Lands, and the incident report states "any rumors of cause and origin are false and unsubstantiated." Nonetheless, Spokane, Wash.-based KXLY 4 reported this morning that unnamed sources say the blaze was sparked by distressed boaters who fired a flare to signal for help.

The largest lake in Idaho, and among the deepest in the country, Lake Pend Oreille is known for its occasionally treacherous waters, which in bad weather can act as an inland sea with large swells and high winds. 

Smoke from the Cape Horn fire continues to linger over Lake Pend Oreille, affecting air quality from Bonner and Kootenai counties to Spokane, Wash. - BEN OLSON/SANDPOINT READER
  • Ben Olson/Sandpoint Reader
  • Smoke from the Cape Horn fire continues to linger over Lake Pend Oreille, affecting air quality from Bonner and Kootenai counties to Spokane, Wash.