1999 Fire Report
In 1999 there were 15 fire starts in Yellowstone National Park (5 human-caused, 10 natural).
On 10 August the Fire Cache received a smoke report from a visitor which was confirmed shortly after by one of the Lake Rangers. Fire monitors were immediately sent to locate the fire, determine cause, take fuel samples and record weather observations. The fire was confirmed to be burning just north and west of Stonetop Mountain. The fire is burning in a lodgepole forest (LP2) with heavy fuels. Down lodgepole with red needles permeate the area and form a continuous fuel bed. Fuel samples from the area indicate a relatively wet site. Typically, large fire activity is encountered when 1000 hr fuel moisture values drop below 12 percent. The fuel moisture values from the Stonetop fire range between 17-35%. Surface vegetation is still quite green.
The fire has currently burned 3 acres and will be allowed to continue to burn. Monitors will maintain their presence on the fire to continually assess weather and rate of spread. Additional resources are standing by to assist with further management actions for the Stonetop fire.
17 August 1999. After nearly a week of rain in the park, smoke was again reported from the Stonetop Fire. The fire was assessed by helicopter and active flames were seen so fire management personnel requested two monitors hike into the fire. At approximately 1600 the fire was found to be actively burning in three spots along the south and east flanks. The fire was burning in down fuel and flanking through grouse whortleberry with flame lengths of 4-8". Light winds were present. Heavy fuel jackpots are adjacent to the active fire flanks and, once ignited, will create sufficient heat to dry neighboring fuels and continue spreading. The fire management staff plans to monitor this fire closely with the warming and drying trends forecasted for the next week.
19 August. Due to light rains in the morning fire behavior was minimal. The south and east sides were most active and, as light winds dried the fuels, fire intensity began to increase. Flame lengths at 1400 were 4-6 inches and the fire was backing at a rate of <0.5 chains per hour. At 1730 flame lengths had increased to 12-18 inches. The fire has doubled in size since its discovery to approximately 6 acres.
11 September. Staff flying over the fire saw no smoke.
15 September. Smokejumpers from West Yellowstone confirmed the fire was out during a training exercise.
Sportsman Lake Fire
On 18 August a smoke was reported by an airplane west of Electric Peak near Sportsman Lake. Fire monitors were flown in and the fire located. A spruce tree was struck by lightning, torching two adjacent spruces before dropping to the ground. At the time of assessment the fire was <0.1 acre and smoldering with only occasional flare-ups and a negligible rate of spread. The fire occurred near a wet meadow where the ground is moist to the touch. The surrounding vegetation is green.
Wrong Creek Fire
On 20 August the Mount Washburn lookout reported a smoke on the Mirror Plateau and monitors were dispatched. The fire was started by a lightning strike on a north slope in the Wrong Creek drainage at ~8,800' elevation. The fire originated in the canopy and quickly dropped into 9 small spot fires which are currently smoldering on the ground. The fire is <0.1 acre with minimal rates of spread. The forest is a mixed conifer stand (Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, [LP3]). The understory (big and grouse whortleberry) is still green.
On 14 August a human-caused fire (<0.1 acre) southwest of Old Faithful was suppressed.
White Lake Fire
On September 9 a small (<0.1 acre) natural fire was discovered west of White Lake.
On 10 October a fire was discovered north of Mammoth in grass and sage. The fire was started by a downed powerline. The fire reached 3 acres when it was was suppressed.
Did You Know?
There are more people hurt by bison than by bears each year in Yellowstone. Park regulations state that visitors must stay at least 25 yards away from bison or elk and 100 yards away from bears.