Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Campers Experience the Comb Fire

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California

A ranger discusses the Comb Fire with campers in Cedar Grove.

The Comb Fire burned 9,775 acres over the course of three months.

During the summer of 2005, campers in Kings Canyon National Park got more than they were expecting from their visit. On the ridge just above three busy campgrounds in Cedar Grove, the lightning-caused Comb Fire burned 9,775 acres between July and October—all while thousands of visitors hiked, rested, cooked, rode bikes, and roasted marshmallows below.

"One of the best things about the Comb Fire was the positive feedback we got from park visitors," said David Bartlett, District Fire Management Officer for Kings Canyon National Park.

When the fire was active, information officers, firefighters, and park rangers roved the campgrounds and day-use areas to answer questions and provide updates on the fire's size and progress. These staff members talked to thousands of people about why managers were allowing the fire to spread naturally, how they were reducing smoke impacts, and how the fire was improving forest conditions for plants and animals.

In the evenings, the glow of the Comb Fire provided a backdrop for these conversations and inspired a sense of wonder. Instead of feeling nervous, campers were reassured that crews were actively preventing the fire from spreading near visitor facilities.

"Because they felt safe and understood why the Comb Fire was important, the campers tolerated smoky skies and a few trail closures," said Jody Lyle, Fire Education Specialist for the parks. 'Rather than hearing complaints, we heard about how the Comb Fire was one of the most interesting things they'd ever seen."

Contact: Jody Lyle, Fire Communication & Education Specialist
Phone: (559) 565-3703