Big Lost Fire continues to grow; Type 2 fire team ordered

A wildfire that started on Thursday outside of Potlatch has grown to 1,280 acres as of Saturday morning, and a Type 2 fire team is now required to combat the blaze, said a Public Information Officer for the North Idaho Joint Fire Information Center.

A Type 3 fire team — which is smaller than a Type 2 — is currently fighting the Big Lost Fire, Craig Foss said, which started about three miles northeast of Harvard, Idaho. Because of the increasing size of the fire, a Type 2 fire team has been ordered from the Ponderosa Fire District, however, the arrival time of the larger squad is still in question because of the number of fires the District is dealing with right now, Foss said.

“The challenge right now is because we have so many fires, there are a lot of orders for teams,” Foss said. “So we’ll see what happens.”

There are currently 39 fires burning in Northern Idaho that are large enough to be named, Foss said. The Lawyer Complex Fire near Orofino is the biggest collection of wildfires in the area right now, Foss said, with a Type 1 fire team managing several smaller teams to combat the blazes.

In addition to dry weather and lightning, Foss said the high winds yesterday had a lot to do with the number of fires starting and spreading.

“With the big winds we had yesterday and last night, all the air resources were grounded,” Foss said. “So today has really been a day of getting back up in the air and reassessing the status on a lot of different fires.”

A stretch of state Highway 6 from mile marker 13-20.5 is closed because of the Big Loss Fire, Foss said, and nine local residences and two campgrounds have been evacuated.

Fires have been so active in Northern Idaho that firefighters have already used more than 1 million gallons of fire retardant this year, Foss said, far exceeding the region’s yearly average of about 150,000 gallons.

“We’re talking about an extreme situation,” Foss said.

Foss said he wasn’t sure about the biggest threat the Big Loss Fire could pose if it continues to travel northeast, which it has been since Thursday. The furthest it has stretched so far is to the Latah-Benewah County border, which leaves agricultural land and forests in its path.

If you want updates on any of the Northern Idaho fires, information can be found at