Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mills Canyon Fire, Fire Information, July 9th through July 15th, 2014

Mills Canyon Fire, Fire Information, July 9th through July 15th, 2014.

The previous post covered the first day of the Mills Canyon Fire.  On the second day, a Washington State Incident Management Team took over the management of the fire and I was offered a position in fire information.

The above picture was taken that first night on the fire from the Entitat River Road.  NBC news liked the above photo and asked for a credit line.  I do not know if they used the photo or not.  That night I drove back via Highway 97 across on the other side of the Columbia River and there were some great photo opportunities, however, I decided that sleep was more important than photography at that point.

The fire burned right down to the river.  The picture was taken from Entiat High School which was the fire camp.  If you enlarge the pictures the tradition is for every graduating class at Entiat High School to paint their year on the rock face.  It looks like the class years survived the fire.

The above photo was taken driving to camp the following morning.  The fire had reached the highway and for the following week the highway was open and closed depending on fire conditions.  This fire burned over much of the same area that was burned in the Swakane Fire that burned in 2010.

For several days the fire reached the highway at various points.  The smoke, fire activity, and firefighter trucks lead to the highway closures.  As you can see in the following picture.  It did get dark along the highway.

For most of the week our house at Burch Mountain Road was under a Level 1 advisory to be prepared for evacuation.  The evacuation notice came just as the Washington State Incident Mangement Team was replaced by a Forest Service Type 1 team.  Northwest Team 3 was also here for the Wenatchee Complex. I also got an evacuation notice, but for Camas when that team was here two years ago.  Team 3 shows up and I get an evacuation notice!

Washington Team 2 was reassigned to the Carlton Complex to deal with one of the four lighting fires burning in the Methow River drainage.   That at the time looked like the easier assignment, but with the high winds a couple of days later it turned into the firestorm that ran all the way into Pateros, Washington.

For me, I was looking forward to a couple days off as Mills Canyon came under control, but then the team was assigned a fire high above Highway 2 at Coles Corner.  That resulted in another eight days on a fire assignment and will be covered in the next posting.

Fire season is early this year and many of the starts are human caused.  Be careful out looks to be a very long fire season.