Manastash Ridge and Conrad Lake Fires News UPDATE August 29, 2013 0900 Hours
Thoroughly-burned area, foreground with adjacent unburned forest and fuels illustrates the spotty nature of the Manastash Fire. Credit: Dean Warner, fire behavior analyst, WIIMT#4
Larry Nickey, Incident Commander Brian Gales, Deputy Incident Commander WIIMT #4 http://126.96.36.199/nwcc/t2_wa4/index.htm
Manastash Ridge Fire Information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3697
Conrad Lake Fire Information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3629
Fire Information Center New Phone Number (509) 964-2138 Hours:7 AM-9 PM
Mosaic of unburned and burned fuels is challenging firefighting effort at Manastash Ridge Fire
Firefighters now building direct line along east and west perimeters, but the northern flank where fire is still spotting remains too risky for that tactic
Cle Elum, Wash. Firefighters, including seven hotshot crews, at the 2,352-acre Manastash Ridge Fire yesterday have constructed fire lines directly on the northwest and east edges of the fire, but the uneven and spotty burn along the northern perimeter poses enough risk of re-burning and spotting that direct tactics cannot be used at this time. The Fire, which has been burning since August 9th, has spread from the dense subalpine fir forest with heavy ground and ladder fuels at the top of the Ridge downward into lodgepole pine. Fire behavior is being influenced more by humidity than topography or winds. The fire is now 10 percent contained.
Crews will continue to construct and prepare fire lines today and reduce fuels and install hose lays where they can along the northern perimeter. The southern perimeter along the Manastash Ridge has been mopped up and will be patrolled by air. Fire continues to creep and smolder in downed logs along the north and east perimeters of the fire area.
The option to burn out some of the larger areas of unburned forest close to the edge of the fire has been stalled-out by rain and high humidity for several days. The ground fuels and lichens are too wet to carry an effective burnout at this time. So, fire behavior analysts recommend waiting for the fuels to dry out before attempting to burn them and are developing a burn plan. Operations officials are also concerned that extensive mop-up after incomplete burnout would present an unacceptable risk to firefighters. Because the fire behavior is easily influenced by changes in relative humidity, changes can happen quickly and unexpectedly.
The precipitation falling for several days on the fire has come from a weather front approaching from the south and rising over the Manastash Ridge. As the warm air rises over the 2,000 foot-tall cliffs, it releases rain on the fire. Rain is predicted for the fire today, but a stubborn, high pressure ridge that has persisted over the interior West for the past several weeks will shift soon, increase temperatures, and dry out forest fuels in the fire area this weekend. As the fuels dry out, the fire will again become active. Firefighting efforts have focused on creating several very strong contingency fire lines 1-1.5 miles around the fire perimeter, and fire officials are confident that these lines will be adequate to prevent fire spread past them.
The Manastash Ridge Fire has exhibited torching and spotting characteristics that are associated with high-elevation forests laden with lichens and underlain by very heavy fuels. Where the fire has thoroughly burned ground fuels, the canopies atop them have also burned completely. But, within a few yards of these examples remain trees the fire skipped over, leaving small to large islands of unburned fuels that, with drying conditions, can burst into flames. Building fire lines in this burned and unburned mosaic along the northern perimeter is too dangerous for firefighters.
According to Larry Nickey, incident commander for Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #4, plans for burning out are not going to be rushed. We will continue to strengthen our contingency lines, build direct line where it is safe to do so, and plan for burn-out actions when we are confident the direct fire lines will prevent fire spread and fuels will be consumed, he said. Our suppression actions are all based upon good, solid measurements and fire behavior observations. If burning out unburned fuels to reinforce containment lines is the correct action, we will do it when weather and fuel conditions are in alignment for the action.
The total cost of suppression actions for the Manastash Ridge fire is $2,799,960. Approximately 60 percent of this cost is for firefighting crews and personnel, and the remaining costs include those for air support, equipment costs, and administration.
Nickey and his team are also managing fire suppression actions at the 1,066-acre Conrad Lake Fire, which is now in the final phases of mop-up. The Fire is located 35 miles southwest of Naches and is currently 30 percent contained. The low containment level is due to the fire having so much open line in the wilderness.
As the Conrad Lake workload has lessened, firefighting crews have been demobilized or reassigned to the Manastash Ridge Fire. Several engines, water tenders, and incident aircraft remain stationed at the Rimrock Peninsula Recreation Area.
Both the Manastash Ridge and Conrad Lake fires are surrounded by area closures. Trails and roads that lead into the fires are closed. Access into the closed areas is limited to firefighting personnel, Forest Service administration and law enforcement. Information about the closures and the closure orders can be found on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests website or by calling Manastash Fire Information at (509) 964-2138 or Naches Ranger District at (509) 653-1401.
Fire danger remains very high. Please check the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website for current campfire restrictions. To stay informed of changing air quality conditions, view http://wasmoke.blogspot.com/
Manastash Ridge Fire Facts Thursday, August 29, 2013 0900 HOURS Fire Size: approximately 2,352 acres Percent Contained: 10% Threatened: Three campground outbuildings. Manastash Ridge Closures Summary: A detailed list of closures is available on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website. On the Naches Ranger District this includes Forest Service Road 1701 before the Funny Rocks Area and the 1900 road system leading north from Little Naches to Quartz Mountain. On the Cle Elum Ranger District, the area closure prohibits being within the boundaries of the posted closure including Forest Service Road 3100 (Manastash Canyon Road) west of the Forest Boundary. Fuels: Heavy ground and ladder fuels, high elevation subalpine fir and whitebark pine forest. Air Resources: Aircraft available to the Manastash Ridge and the Conrad Lake Fires are being shared. Two air attack platforms, one Type I helicopter, two Type II helicopters and one Type III helicopter. Crews: 7 Type I crews and 14 Type II hand crews. Engines: 4 Dozers: 3 Water Tenders: 5 Road graders: 1 Total Personnel: 637 Total Cost: $2,799,960
Conrad Lake Fire Facts Thursday, August 29, 2013 0900 HOURS Fire Size: approximately 1,066 acres Percent Contained: 30% Evacuations: No homes or structures threatened. Conrad Lake Closures Summary: Road closures near the Conrad Lake Fire include National Forest Roads 1000, 1204, 1205, 1200-725, and the 1070 between its junctions between the 1000 Road and 1070-595 Road. Trail closures include Bear Creek Mountain Trail #1130 and Conrad Meadows. Area closures include Rimrock Peninsula Recreation Area and the boat launch. There is no access from the 1200 Road onto the 1200-711, 1200-712, 1200- 713, 1200-714, 1200-715, 1200-716, 1200-725, and 1200-653 roads. Fuels: Timber litter and understory, meadows. Air Resources: Aircraft available to the Manastash Ridge and the Conrad Lake Fires are being shared. Two air attack platforms, one Type I helicopter, two Type II helicopters and one Type III helicopter. Crews: Two Type II Engines: 4 Water Tenders: 2 Total Personnel: 64 Total Cost: $5,160,800