North Cascades Fire Update August 23 2009
Contact: Kerry Olson, 360 854-7302
Overview: Twelve fires ranging in size from a single tree to 400 acres have been burning in the North Cascades National Park Complex since late June. All twelve fires were started by lightning. The total acreage for all fires combined is 696 acres.
This year a total of twenty-seven fires have occurred in the park, and the season is not over. Over the past ten years, the average yearly number of fires in the North Cascades National Park Complex has been fourteen. The highest number of fires in a single year since the park was established in 1968 was thirty-six. This year’s count of twenty-seven fires includes current fires as well as ones that started earlier this season. Some were short lived and put themselves out after several days; others were suppressed by firefighters while others are being managed for resource benefit.
Since the end of the last glaciations about 12,000 years ago, fire has played a key role in the forested landscapes and vegetation in the Pacific Northwest. Park managers rely on data from scientific investigation of the region’s long fire history, monitoring and evaluation of current fire events to appropriately manage fires. Park objectives when deciding fire management strategies include: providing for firefighter and public safety, allowing the natural process of fire to prevail in the park, collaborating with other agencies and stakeholders and providing for public input and education.
Currently, five of the twelve current fires are being managed with suppression tactics to protect the public, and infrastructure in the area. The other seven fires are being managed for resource benefits. Additional periods of increased fire activity are probable before the area receives enough precipitation to extinguish the fires completely, typically by mid-October.
Current Situation: Little to no fire activity has been observed at any of the fires for several days. Fires remain in monitoring status. There are no firefighters on the ground at these fires due to steep inaccessible terrain. One helicopter (Type 3-light) is assigned to the fire to support firefighters if requested.
The Panther Comlex has five fires totaling 622.6 acres, light smoke is reported.
Weather and Fire Behavior: Partly cloudy skies with temperatures between 70s and 80 degrees. Winds will be 9-14 mph with gusts to 20 mph in the Stehekin area. Potential for fire growth is low.
TRAIL CLOSURES: The Panther Creek Trail is closed from the trailhead on Highway 20 to Fourth of July Pass until further notice.
HIGHWAY 20: Highway 20 is open. Park visitor facilities have not been affected.