Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chiwaukum Fire, Fire Information, July 16th through July 23rd, 2014

Chiwaukum Fire, Fire Information, July 16th through July 23rd, 2014.

As the Mills Canyon Fire was winding down the Team was assigned a couple of fires higher up in the Cascades.  One was Kelly Mountain that eight smoke jumpers parachuted in and started fighting the fire.

The other fire was in the Chiwaukum Creek drainage.  It was mostly located on Weyerhauser land high above Highway 2.  The fire was located in cutover timber with a lot of down slash (dry fuel) on the ground. The fire blew up and quickly grew from 500 acres to well over six thousand acres that day.  The column grew to 25,000 feet and was visible from Seattle.  To keep things in perspective this was much shorter than the 50,000 plus column put up by the Table Mountain Fire in 2012.

I did not get any pictures of the column.  I was too busy driving from the Nason Creek area down the Chumstick back to fire camp.  What is did notice was how dangerous that part of the landscape was if the fire crossed Highway 2.  In the Plain area and the Chumstick there were well over 800 homes under a level 3 evacuation.  Level 3 is "get out now".

The few spots that jumped Highway 2 were all caught by firefighters.  Otherwise we would have been off to the races.  Many of those homes in the Chumstick drainage were not defensible.  The loss of homes would have been devastating.

The Mills Canyon Fire camp was moved to the National Fish Hatchery in Leavenworth and a helicopter field was established.  

I "timed out" and demobed on Wednesday, July 23rd.   There is a mandatory two days off before returning to the fire.  I decided to extend the days off for a week since Alexandra was coming over to visit from Seattle.  As I post this on Thursday, July 30th the fire is still burning and put up a "nice" column today.  The good news that it is still burning within fire lines on the north and east sides of the fire.  The west side is burning up into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and higher elevations.  The south side of the fire was a concern when I was demobed as there were no good control lines on that side of the fire.  So it will probably continue creeping south.  This is a picture of the fire as it burned down to the Wenatchee River.

I go back up as available on Monday, August 4th.  Hopefully, the fire will be well under control and resources will be being demobed.  It is only the start of August and it seems like fire season has been going on for months.