Two Lightning-Caused Fires Burning in Olympic National Park Wilderness; Lake Constance Trail Temporarily Closed

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Date: July 23, 2009
Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005

Two lightning-caused fires are burning in the upper Duckabush and Dosewallips River valleys, in the eastern section of Olympic National Park. One fire is ten acres while the second is one acre; both are located deep within the park boundary and designated wilderness.

“These fires were ignited by early-season thunderstorms and are a natural part of the Olympic ecosystem,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin. “Considering their size, extremely steep surroundings and location well within park and wilderness boundaries, we are managing these fires for resource benefit through confinement and continued monitoring.”

Lightning storms on June 13 and July 11 resulted in over 30 lightning strikes within the park, with four fires known to be ignited. Two of these fires are still known to be active.

The Constance fire in the upper Dosewallips drainage is currently ten acres and was ignited by a lightning strike on July 11; it was first reported on July 17. Its remote location and extremely steep terrain makes access for firefighters very difficult and would require technical climbing skills, presenting significant risk to any firefighters. Given these factors, park crews are managing the Constance fire through a confinement strategy, in which existing barriers like rock outcrops, trails and ridge tops are used as natural firebreaks. Crews will continue to monitor this fire. The Lake Constance Trail is closed due to hazardous conditions including falling trees and rocks.

Under clear conditions, the Constance fire smoke column is visible at times from the Silverdale area, and can be observed via a private webcam at www.drdale.com.

In the upper Duckabush Valley, the Ten-Mile fire was reported by a hiker on June 23 and has been monitored by members of the park’s fire crew since then. The fire is believed to have been caused by a single lightning strike to a tall old-growth Douglas fir on June 13.

Two other small fires in the upper Dosewallips drainage were reported on July 11 and smoke columns were easily visible from Hurricane Ridge. Smoke has not been visible from either of these fires since July 13.

Warm, dry weather continues to prevail throughout the park and is forecast through the next 10 days, raising the possibility of increased fire activity.

Managing these fires for resource benefits meets guidelines as outlined in the Olympic National Park Fire Management Plan, approved in December 2005 after extensive public review and comment. Naturally occurring fires create a patchwork of different forest types and provide a mosaic of habitats for a wide variety of plants and animals.



Last updated: February 28, 2015

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