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Drew Wiley
24-Jul-2015, 13:01
Probably most of you have seen this already, but a major fire shutting down the road thru Glacier NP. Here in Calif, Hwy 50 past Lk Tahoe
is closed due to fire (Hwy 80 is open). A large brush fire is ongoing near Clear Lk which will affect air quality in the Napa wine country,
but seems to have only a minor effect here on the coast. Just check immediately advance of any trip in the West. There are even more fires
this year than last, cumulatively.

Randy Moe
24-Jul-2015, 16:33
Montana is burning too.

Kansas City was to be 113 today and humid...

Preston
24-Jul-2015, 17:02
Just read this from the AP regarding the two large fires in Northern California...

WINTERS, Calif. (AP) -- Firefighters made progress Friday against two wildfires in Northern California, allowing some people to return home outside Napa Valley after flames threatened hundreds of houses.

Crews battling a separate fire in the Sierra Nevada hoped to reopen Highway 50 linking Sacramento and Reno by the afternoon.

About 45 miles east of wine country, officials called off evacuation orders for roughly 50 of 200 evacuated homes as a 10 1/2-square-mile blaze calmed in the drought-parched countryside near Lake Berryessa, said Amy Head, state fire spokeswoman.

There are also many large fires burning in Canada and Alaska.

Be careful out there.

--P

Heroique
24-Jul-2015, 19:10
Just days ago, we in Washington state watched a fire close Interstate 90 on both sides of the Columbia River.

And right now, an aggressive fire (nine square miles) is threatening many homes in Walla Walla – in the southeast corner of the state. Firefighters are trying to keep it from reaching a watershed that supplies the city with water.

Meanwhile, the Queets River rain forest (yes, a rain forest) continues to smoke, smolder, and burn ... the biggest fire in Olympic Nat'l Park history.

Gonna be a long fire season in the far west. :(

Preston
26-Jul-2015, 08:56
There is a new large fire, the Lowell Fire, near Alta in Nevada county, CA. It is pumping a lot of smoke all the way south to Tuolumne county, so it's pretty smoky here this morning. It is 1,500 ac and is 5% contained.

The Wragg Fire in Napa county is 6,900 ac and is 60% contained.

If you would like to see the active Cal Fire large incidents, you can find the info Here (http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current).

The Kyburz fire near HWY 50 west of Lake Tahoe is 98 ac and is 80% contained.

Be safe out there!

--P

Heroique
26-Jul-2015, 12:00
Be safe out there!

I wish the young adults below had heeded your words before "playing" near Mount Saint Helens, as if the area hadn't already had its share of fire-filled trauma:


WOODLAND, Wash. (AP) - Authorities in Cowlitz County have arrested three men for starting a wildfire by shooting propane bottles in the woods.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office on Saturday said the men, all Vancouver residents, started the Colvin Fire just east of Woodland by shooting four 16 ounce propane bottles with firearms. The fire, which began last Sunday, burned over 100 acres, or about 0.16 square miles.

22-year-old Michael J. Estrada-Cardenas, 21-year-old Nathan C. Taylor and 23-year-old Adrian D. Taylor were booked into jail for reckless burning in the 1st degree. They are being held without bail.

The suspects told investigators the fire started when they shot the bottles. They said they put the flames out and left the area, even though there were small burning embers still on the ground.

neil poulsen
26-Jul-2015, 12:19
The heat in and around Portland, Oregon this year has been unprecedented. We've had many days where temperatures were near 100 degrees. We saw hot days in May, when typically, it rains through most of June.

Brian Sims
26-Jul-2015, 19:04
I wish the young adults below had heeded your words before "playing" near Mount Saint Helens, as if the area hadn't already had its share of fire-filled trauma:


WOODLAND, Wash. (AP) - Authorities in Cowlitz County have arrested three men for starting a wildfire by shooting propane bottles in the woods.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office on Saturday said the men, all Vancouver residents, started the Colvin Fire just east of Woodland by shooting four 16 ounce propane bottles with firearms. The fire, which began last Sunday, burned over 100 acres, or about 0.16 square miles.

22-year-old Michael J. Estrada-Cardenas, 21-year-old Nathan C. Taylor and 23-year-old Adrian D. Taylor were booked into jail for reckless burning in the 1st degree. They are being held without bail.

The suspects told investigators the fire started when they shot the bottles. They said they put the flames out and left the area, even though there were small burning embers still on the ground.
I hope they are held without bail until it rains 10 inches. Fools.

John Kasaian
26-Jul-2015, 21:39
Latest on the Willow Fire near Bass Lake, with pictures:
http://abc30.com/news/wildfire-near-bass-lake-explodes-in-size-overnight/881133/

Drew Wiley
27-Jul-2015, 08:14
I wonder if Bass Lake is even a lake this year, or if it has any bass left in it! That's fire is right where a big opium poppy plot once was.

John Kasaian
27-Jul-2015, 13:02
I haven't been to Bass Lake lately---apparently there is enough water for the forestry helicopters to scoop up, but Pine Flat is a mud hole right now.

Drew Wiley
27-Jul-2015, 13:43
They nearly drain out Pine Flat even on abundant snow years. Never anything left in the piggy bank for a non-rainy day. But it can be a photogenic mudhole with
various shades of rings as it dries out. I have spent many a fine day lugging the 8x10 up those numerous very steep side canyons and ridges with all their secret little waterfalls in early spring.

John Kasaian
28-Jul-2015, 21:36
Drew, in my recollection they would at least wait until the pontoon, ski and bass boats got pulled ashore before draining Pine Flat all the way down. July seems unusually early.

Drew Wiley
29-Jul-2015, 12:05
We had reverse airflow yesterday and a big cloud of the smoke from the big Sonoma Co fire appeared to the north, and I even sneezed a few times last nite.
Now the fog seems to be headed back in, thank goodness. Gosh, but Pine Flat... remember a few fatal rattlesnake bites there. People would wander into the grass
on the shore, get bit, then panic and run back to the boat. That did it. If they had just calmly walked down to the water and soaked their foot, it probably would have saved them. My brother and I killed a huge rattler there one day, breaded and fried it, and coiled it back up over a casserole for a local potluck event. Sure
got a few laughs out of that one! There's one cliff in that area which briefly has a waterfall higher than Yos Falls during heavy storms, though dry most of the time.

Bill Burk
1-Aug-2015, 17:17
Got to breathe in some of the smoke from the Willow fire, which blew in over where I was at Huntington Lake... It looks like we were 5-10 miles East of the fire.

Drew Wiley
3-Aug-2015, 09:56
Got a good look last nite on the news of exactly where the Willow Fire is. It's largely on a hill across from the start of the Central Camp Rd. Mostly manzanita up
there, with yellow pine higher up, and no doubt a lot a marijuana lower down. So be careful how much of that smoke you inhale!

domaz
3-Aug-2015, 10:17
If you want to check out details of fires in the NW: Inciweb (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/) is a great site.

Bill Burk
3-Aug-2015, 10:31
Got a good look last nite on the news of exactly where the Willow Fire is. It's largely on a hill across from the start of the Central Camp Rd. Mostly manzanita up
there, with yellow pine higher up, and no doubt a lot a marijuana lower down. So be careful how much of that smoke you inhale!

No wonder the week at camp was so much fun!

Drew Wiley
3-Aug-2015, 10:49
I just hope it didn't take out the last remnants of the old flume across the little cliff and the head of that valley. A lot of history in that. They'd hop in dugouts and
ride the flume thrill-style clear down to the Valley for Friday nite booze and brawling etc, then spend the next two days riding horseback uphill, back to work.
There were live logs coming down that chute too, which sometimes clogged up and would lead to fatal dugout accidents. But logging was damn dangerous anyway
back then. I found some of the old rusty pikes etc used by flume troubleshooters. Standing on wobbly logs in a narrow flume atop trestles above a canyon or cliff
was a bit more serious business than a log-rolling contest in the county fair - blue ribbons didn't get handed out, but coffins.

John Kasaian
4-Aug-2015, 08:02
According to the morning news, Willow is 80% contained.

Drew Wiley
4-Aug-2015, 08:53
What's the big fire to the south of there, around SEKI? We don't hear much up here. Of course, we've got the monster one between Berryessa and Clear Lake which has now jumped the highway, but the wind is blowing north, so smoke is no longer visible here on the Bay. I've given up on Calif and am backpacking out
of state this month at least. But SEKI is on my sights next month.

Bill Burk
4-Aug-2015, 10:11
Cabin Fire burning southeast of Peck's Cabin - my old stomping grounds.

Last time I was there the cabin's owner helped everyone out of the parking lot after a snowstorm... Except me.

First and last time my wife backpacked with me.

So far 0% contained, 0 (out of 1 total in the area) structures burned.

The fire is being minimally managed because it is in a wilderness area.

Drew Wiley
4-Aug-2015, 11:54
Thanks. So any of that smoke would probably siphon up Kern Can. Of course, a month from now there could be other new fires. But I hope to be up the S. Fork
of the Kings then. I always have alternate destinations any of these summers, just in case of fire or weird weather.

Sirius Glass
5-Aug-2015, 14:30
Too many of these wild fires. We should make them illegal!

Jim Andrada
9-Aug-2015, 19:33
Had a fire in the Catalina Mountains North of Tucson last week - we live at the base of the mountains and my wife said she could see it from our bedroom while I was out of town (in CA)

It was apparently started by lightning and fortunately the monsoon rains put it out after a couple of days. I think it burned a little under 1000 acres.

John Kasaian
10-Aug-2015, 06:27
I flew across the central Sierra Thursday morning----no snow to be seen & the lakes pretty much dried up, or waaaay down.

Preston
16-Aug-2015, 10:24
There is a 1,200 ac fire burning near Walker Lake in the Lee Vining-June Lakes area. It started yesterday. The campgrounds in Lee-Vining Canyon are currently closed. Highway 120 West (Tioga Pass) between Highway 395 and Blue Slide (approximately 5 miles up-canyon from Highway 395) is closed.

The fire is burning in mixed conifer, mountain mahogany and brush. It is 7% contained as of the time of this post.

Walker Fire Info (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4515/).

Be safe out there, everyone.

--P

cdholden
16-Aug-2015, 12:03
Too many of these wild fires. We should make them illegal!

Or schedule a workshop with Michael Fatali.

Drew Wiley
17-Aug-2015, 08:29
I passed over Tioga Pass Sat AM on the way back from a Nevada backpack trip. The June Lake fire has generated a LOT of smoke all over the East side of the
range from Mono Lake down past the Mammoth Area. So I'd avoid that area entirely for awhile. The good news is that only a little of it has filtered over the top,
slightly around Tenaya Lk. But otherwise, the Yosemite high country was very clear, though crowded along the roads, as usual this time of year. At lower
elevations, like Yos Valley, there would be a lot of smog and control burn smoke. Passing cars headed that way, I'd estimate that some of the entry station lines were up to an hour long in miserable heat. But I had no problem the reverse direction. Only one car ahead of me at the Tioga entrance.

John Kasaian
22-Aug-2015, 06:55
This ain't good
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-fire-sierra-natl-forest-20150819-story.html

Preston
23-Aug-2015, 08:01
The Rough Fire in Sierra NF is pumping a lot of smoke northward into the Sierra. Transport winds are also pushing smoke over the Sierra Crest into Owens Valley. The band of smoke was clearly visible early this morning looking east from my location in the Foothills and is evident on NWS satellite images from this morning.

If you are planning trip to the Sierra, the conditions may not be favorable, especially for those who are sensitive to smoke.

The Walker Fire near Lee Vining is 73% contained as of this morning. The campgrounds in Lee Vining Canyon will reopen tomorrow, Monday. There will be smoke in the area,, and if you head that way be mindful of fire equipment and incident personnel on the roads.

You can find more info on these fires at inciweb.

Be safe out there, everyone!

--P

tgtaylor
23-Aug-2015, 11:41
But it pushed the bugs out.

Thomas

Sirius Glass
23-Aug-2015, 13:52
I spent a week off roading in the Leadville Colorado last week. The visibility was limited by the smoke from the West Coast fires.

John Kasaian
23-Aug-2015, 16:21
The Kings Canyon Lodge destroyed by the Rough Fire
http://abc30.com/news/rough-fire-destroys-kings-canyon-lodge/952365/

Drew Wiley
24-Aug-2015, 08:47
That Rough Fire area looks impossible to fight from the ground. Some of it along the highest canyon wall on the continent, which to my knowledge has never even
been climbed. Lots of manzanita on the lower portions. All they can try to do is stop it along the top, and hope it doesn't jump the river at the bottom. Looks like it's gone into Tehipite Valley too, where the tallest dome in the Sierra is and some lovely yellow pine groves. The opposite side of that canyon burned severely when I was a kid. It's due again. I'm still working on Plan B and Plan C options for a trip. But three weeks away is a long long time in fire planning. A whole new crop could be started by then.

Heroique
24-Aug-2015, 17:57
The state of Washington is now fighting the biggest fire in its history. :(

The Okanogan Complex fire is up to 256,000 acres, not much less than is burning in the entire state of California – and it's only 10% contained.

President Obama just recently declared a state of emergency for Washington, mobilizing federal resources to fight the statewide flames. Thank you, Mr. President.

Oregon and Idaho are burning up, too.

Rain dance anyone?

Drew Wiley
25-Aug-2015, 08:30
The fire in Kings Canyon is now around 50,000 acres. The main spot it jumped the river has a FS road above, so they will probably be successful containing it there. But otherwise, a lot of spectacular backcountry is at risk, as well as views from the road leading down into Cedar Grove. A lot of country between there and
the North Fork of the Kings is bare granite. So maybe there's a chance a storm will hit before it heads down into timber on the other side. I just took a few more
shots of the huge burn up on the Tuolumne River from two years ago. It exposed a lot of hard red clay which is going to be slow to re-vegetate. But wonderful
colors!

Drew Wiley
27-Aug-2015, 16:18
OK... just got an official notice from the Park. Total road closure into Sequoia, Kings Can, Grant Grove, Hume, etc. - anything Hwy 180. This might last the next few weeks. In other words, no Park entry except via some wilderness pass outside the park, which is utterly unhealthy anyway. Mineral King road is open, and
I suppose you could take the Ash Mtn entrance up to Moro Rock, but not further toward Grant Grove. Visibility would be compromised anyway. Vistas in Owens
Valley are also obscured by smoke blowing over the top. Right now the fire is about 56,000 acres and only 20% contained. Even after they stop it spreading, the
highway will be a mess for weeks with cleanup operations. For the moment, it seems they're spared Converse Grove and the other relatively remote groves of
giant Sequoias. Grant Grove is safe now, but under "severe" air quality warnings. But road closed anyway.

John Kasaian
9-Sep-2015, 15:07
Now we've got the Tenaya fire in Yosemite
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4604/
Aerial tankers have been operating out of Fresno all day.

Drew Wiley
9-Sep-2015, 15:28
We've got two different threads going on the same subject, John. But if I had a chance to leave Fresno, I'd do it too. How hot is it there?

John Kasaian
9-Sep-2015, 19:14
Only a balmy 103 in the Big Raisin today.

Jmarmck
9-Sep-2015, 20:09
Can you make wine from raisins?

John Kasaian
9-Sep-2015, 20:47
Can you make wine from raisins?
No. Well it is possible but more commonly you'd make hard liquor (Raisin Jack) from raisins.

Drew Wiley
10-Sep-2015, 09:23
One of the guys who commutes in from the Valley (90 mi each way!) showed me this morning's cell phone shots aimed east from Patterson (way over on Hwy 5),
A complete wall of smoke coming from that Rough Fire. I smell it here right now, right on the Bay. That amber haze over the Valley can do some wonderful
things with color film in farm country, different from smog per se. Maybe I'll get a grab shot or two with the 6x7. I'm sure not going to stop and take much time
with the view camera until I get past the heat and smoke, way uphill to the south of the mess.

Preston
10-Sep-2015, 12:16
There's a big fire near Jackson off of Hwy 49 in the Mokulmne River drainage. The fire has jumped the river and is now burning in Amador and Calaveras counties. The fire 4000+ ac with 20% containment. It's called the Butte Fire. Drew, the smoke you are seeing is likely from this fire, given the NE wind and subsidence. The air here in Columbia is awful, and visibility is probably less than 2 miles. The smoke from this fire and the Rough fire are clearly visible on the latest NOAA satellite images.

Pray for rain, everyone!

--P

Drew Wiley
10-Sep-2015, 13:49
Hi Preston. I'm right in the middle of a lead-abatement equipment sale to the Jamestown prison (on that pretty Copperopolis Rd), so got a good description of how hot and smoky it is in your part of the world. Our news coverage is miserable here. We hear about every hundred acre grass fire around the Bay and everything concerning Yosemite or Tahoe, but never a single word about Kings Can or Sequoia. So I'm checking the official sites, including air quality. Our air pattern here is
just beginning to shift to onshore direction, with fog now in sight, and is beginning to finally cool a bit. That should bring a bit of rain in the high country by the
weekend, but also the risk of more lightning fires.

John Kasaian
10-Sep-2015, 17:01
I just heard that Grant Grove is being evacuated right now!

Drew Wiley
11-Sep-2015, 08:40
They're evacuating Grant Grove, the whole Hume area, the highway clear below the town of Dunlap, all private property on side roads (they were given two hours to get out). It's burned right around Cedar Grove, so that is still very much at risk. Uphill to the south, it's burned right to the Buck Rock lookout on Forest Service land, but nowhere near the Jennie Lks Wilderness or adjacent Sequoia Park wilderness (Mt Siliman area) yet. The northern perimeter from Rogers crossing clear up past Black Rock looks like it has burned itself out and is secure. But just eyeballing these clouds overhead today means more lightning fires tomorrow. I like a good light show but have to plan any high ridge crossings in the mornings, as usual. Last time I crossed one of those high passes above Mineral King I had a mere ten minutes to charge down the other side before the lightning went wild right where I sat to catch my breath at the top. Of course,
at that point the sky overhead was flawless blue and that black cloud was still a couple miles away. Things change fast fast. I love that mtn weather, but ya gotta respect it!

Randy Moe
11-Sep-2015, 09:40
Sounds like you are having an exciting time.

And some people think Chicago is dangerous...

John Kasaian
11-Sep-2015, 09:56
I had breakfast with World Champion surfer Bear Woznick this morning.
When I went to my car after breakfast, it was sprinkled with soot from the fire.

Drew Wiley
11-Sep-2015, 09:56
The daily freeway commute is far more risky than mountain travel. But I've personally lived thru four major forest fires, fought em, etc. So I'm rather sensitized to wood smoke. Can't even tolerate a fireplace in the house without sneezing. But early during this particular fire there was an incredible ordeal. The smoke has risen way up into the backcountry and a lady about 35 miles back from the trailhead managed to get disoriented in the haze, took a wrong turn, and somehow crossed over into an adjacent basin where she fell and broke both legs. She heard water in a creek, but had to crawl on her stomach for two days to get to it. Meanwhile, neither aircraft nor drones were having much luck searching for her due to the visibility issues from all the smoke. The fire itself was a long ways away, so not a direct hazard. The only alternative was lots of feet on the ground, way back there, searching section by section. She had a whistle and started tweeting when she heard voices in the distance, nine days of later, if I recall correctly. So they found her alive and she'll apparently recover from her injuries over time. Quite a story, though she has refused any kind of interview and just wants to recover in peace and quiet.

John Kasaian
11-Sep-2015, 20:17
From the pictures, it looks like a really huge fire is on the outskirts of Jackson. Whoa!

Preston
11-Sep-2015, 22:15
John, it's the Butte Fire. It's burning mostly in Calaveras County, with a portion in Amador County. 64,700 ac. 5% contained. The smoke here in Columbia is awful, and ash is falling. Not good. More info, here (http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current).

--P

Darren Kruger
11-Sep-2015, 23:32
Some more information about the butte fire can be found at yubanet.com (http://yubanet.com/2015Local/ButteAEU.php).

Wasn't there an old store or something in the foothills which had steel doors to protect the inside from fires?

-Darren

Preston
12-Sep-2015, 06:46
Darren,

Thanks for the link. I'll take a look.

Many of the historic brick buildings in Gold Country had iron doors. Not only did they protect the buildings from external fire, they were also there to prevent a fire in one building from spreading to other structures. They do make interesting subjects for photography (http://www.gildedmoon.com/galleries/foothills/pages/image_566-1.htm).

--P

dsphotog
12-Sep-2015, 17:07
I guess this explains the saying "Spreads like wildfire."
This is the most smoke I've ever seen here in the Central Valley. the Sun looks like an orange ball in the sky.

John Kasaian
12-Sep-2015, 21:20
Ashes have been falling on Fresno today.

tgtaylor
12-Sep-2015, 22:29
Reminds me of the weekend a few years back that I rode the bicycle from the Bay Area and followed the Sacramento River to the KOA campground in Sacramento and had ash from a wildfire fall on my tent that night. With the glow in the sky from the fire and the falling ash it was surreal.

Thomas

tgtaylor
13-Sep-2015, 09:50
Just got this report this morning:

Regrettably, yesterday morning I exited the trail at VVR. Thanks to an extraordinarily kind fellow hiker and his girlfriend (thanks Forest and Natalie) I got a ride to the Fresno airport where I rented a car and drove home to our place in Verdi, Nevada.

I made the decision on Monday evening, after the smoke became too much for me coming down Silver Pass. Yesterday, the smoke only got worse.

I saw about a dozen hikers on my first day out of Red's Meadow who abandoned by returning to Red's. A total of four of us abandoned at VVR. A few continued, with the intention of either leaving west out of MTR or east farther south.

My symptoms were a cough and a really nasty headache. I didn't really understand how bad it had gotten until I walked into the garage this morning to unpack my backpack and wash my camp clothes. The entire garage smelled of smoke.

Obviously, I can't recommend hiking on the JMT at this point south of Red's. Just as obviously, the wind could change, the fire could go out, your lungs might be different, etc. As always, hike your own hike, but I glad to be out of it.

Thomas

Drew Wiley
21-Sep-2015, 09:06
Hiked thru the smoke siphoning up into Mineral King, got above it. Then it rained like heck the next few days, and when I hiked back out, everything was remarkably clear. Looks like they're finally getting a handle on the "Rough Fire" in Kings Canyon. Damn nice fall color up there too.

Preston
21-Sep-2015, 16:24
At the height of the Butte Fire on 9/11-12 it looked like the apocalypse was bearing down on us. I actually got to the point where I staged some things so I could get out quickly even though the southern flank was still some miles away. Fortunately, that threat is now over and the fire is 75% contained. It's still putting up some smoke, but at least we're breathing more easily now.

In over twenty years of fighting fire here before I retired, I have never seen a fire move that fast, and honestly, I was scared, and I don't scare easily.

I am hopeful Autumn will arrive soon with cooler days and (prayerfully) bring some rain.

--P

Drew Wiley
22-Sep-2015, 10:08
The Rough fire burned over 150,000 acres total. A few giant sequoias were scarred, but their bark is so thick they easily survive fires. What is a bigger risk is the
destruction of surrounding forest and how it gets drier overall due to lack of vegetation and shade. Although I managed to hike above the smoke, and then had clean air coming back down after the rainstorms, I've sneezed and wheezed for these past several days because I spent a couple nites in the Mineral King formal
campground before coming back home. Just ordinary campfire smoke drives me crazy. Even a wood fireplace does. Seems I got permanently sensitized to smoke from all those huge forest fires I survived or fought as a kid.