North Cascades Fire Update August 20

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Date: August 20, 2009
Contact: Kerry Olson, 360 854-7302

Fire remnants
The Panther Creek Fire burned some fuels and left others untouched, creating a "mosaic" pattern. The light colors in this photo are ashes. Ashes contain valuable nutrients which will be recylced back into the soil.


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. Five of these 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. Park staff members are educating visitors about the benefits of fire in natural ecosystems.

Current Situation: Yesterday, aerial flights and road patrols were made from vantage points to observe fire activity. Three fires were producing light smoke: the Elija and Panther Fires in Panther Creek, and the Brush Creek Fire in Brush Creek drainage. No smoke was observed at the other fires: Cascade Creek Fire and fires in the Crapper Complex. New aerial GIS mapping of the two largest fires in the park found that the Elija fire has increased to 400 acres from 353 acres the Panther Fire has increased 3 acres to 223 acres over the past few weeks. Due to light fire activity, no aircraft reconnaissance missions are planned today. Ground patrols will be made to watch for changes in fire activity, smoke production, due to unstable atmospheric conditions. Helicopters are available to assist firefighters by making water drops if requested.

Conditions and Fuels: Fires are burning in fire adapted ecosystems. Fires are in subalpine and mixed conifer forests.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Today will be sunny with temperatures between 87 and 98 degrees. Winds will be 5-10 mph. The National Weather Service has issued a weather report that atmospheric conditions will be unstable today; these conditions may lead to rapid fire growth.

Resources Assigned to the Fire:
Personnel: Park staff supported by single resources
Aircraft: 2 helicopters, one Type 3 (light) and one Type 2 (medium)

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. Smoke: Numerous fires are burning in Canada and Washington State causing smoke and haze within the park and surrounding areas.

For more information about smoke visit: EPA AirNow -
State of WA Smoke Management Program
How to Protect your Family from the Health Effects of Smoke

Last updated: August 11, 2017

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Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


(360) 854-7200

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