September 26, 2012 0900 Update
Incident: Cascade Creek Wildfire
Four main jobs on wildfire perimeter
Rehabilitation, Mop-up, Containment Line Construction, and Contingency Planning all underway around Cascade Creek Wildfire
Trout Lake, Wash., The Cascade Creek Wildfire has been burning for 18 days and is currently 40 percent contained. The more than 600 firefighters devoted to managing this fire are divided among several tasks that each contribute to eventual control.
To the east of the fire where the Aiken Lava Bed has provided a natural barrier (Divisions X, Y, Z) and to the south where existing Forest Roads (FR 020) were enhanced to contain the fire (Division A), the fire activity has slowed. Firefighters continue to monitor heat in the lava bed and observe burning fire that is interior to the containment lines. They are mopping-up 75 feet in from the perimeter and removing hoses, empty fuel cans and other equipment that is no longer needed. They are rehabilitating roads that received heavy fire traffic and continuing to ensure that all hazardous trees and snags are removed or mitigated.
To the southwest (Division B), firefighters burned out to strengthen the westernmost end of the FR 020 containment line yesterday afternoon. Today, crews will monitor the fresh burn-out to observe consumption levels, mitigate any snag hazards that may have developed, and watch for any spot fires that could have resulted.
To the west, (Division C) work is progressing with dozers and hand crews to construct additional fire line connecting and using FR 070 and 23. The road corridors are being cleared of snags, brush and potential fuels, to provide a safe work area for firefighters and prepare for successful burning out should it be necessary.
To the northwest, a new Division (D) has been created to investigate containment opportunities and plan contingencies should the fire move that direction. Steep terrain, poor access and the headwaters of the White Salmon and Lewis Rivers complicate potential firefighting strategies across this area.
The weather is becoming warmer and drier with temperatures expected to reach 70 or even 80 degrees and relative humidity falling to 15 to 20 percent. This is unusually summer-like for late September. A thermal belt is developing with warm, dry air at higher elevations of the fire and cooler conditions along the lower elevations. The fire interior is expected to burn actively today, consuming remaining fuel and torching trees. Although the hotter, drier weather and unstable air mass above are expected to enhance burning, winds are forecast to be light.
Flames have been slowly backing down the flanks of Stagman Ridge and Mt. Adams, advancing approximately one quarter to one half mile per day. The fire is moving into a wetter, less flammable fuel type with fewer dead trees, less ground litter and more moisture. Bands of young timber reproduction are also expected to check fire movement if the fire reaches the Mt. Adams Wilderness boundary.
Hikers travelling the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) have been re-routed along FR 23 to avoid wildfire activity. The PCT is closed from the Williams Mine Trailhead (where FR 8810 meets FR 23) to the Potato Hill Trailhead on FR 5603. Many northbound hikers are moving quickly with the intent to reach Canada before fall weather halts further progress. In contrast, firefighters across Washington will welcome cooler weather and look forward to the eventual arrival of rain.
Fire Facts - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 0900 HOURS
Fire Size: 14,919 acres
Percent Contained: 40%
Fuels: Heavy, bug-killed timber, litter and understory
Expected Containment: Not determined
Air Resources: Two of each of the following: Light, medium and heavy helicopters; two air attack platforms
Firefighting Crews: 16
Water Tenders: 14
Total Personnel: 640
Total Estimated Cost to Date: $8,938,000