Wildfire information – 12 Sept.

Below are a couple of posts forwarded by Diane Gebenini. Both contain useful information regarding the Norse Peak Fire.

Here’s an update from tonight’s informal community meeting about the Norse Peak and Sawmill Creek fires. Please keep in mind this meeting came together at the very last minute as a way to update and inform residents. It wasn’t a planned meeting with representatives from each agency available to answer every question. Most available personnel were working on the first priority: protecting lives and property from the fires.

 As of tonight, a crew including people from the Crystal department is working ahead of the Norse Peak fire in the Silver Springs cabin area alongside a Type 2 hand crew of 20 people. They have ordered some protective wrap and it’s available. They also have plans in place for other protective measures including laying protective plumbing for sprinklers and pumping water from the creek. Winds have shifted favorably in that area so the fire is burning back on itself, moving away from the cabins as of 6:00 pm. No heavy rain is forecast, but tomorrow’s projected cooling and slight moisture should help the responders’ efforts.

 This fire is currently 1/2 mile from Goat Creek and is backing up slowly due to the favorable wind. Crews and lookouts are there and despite quick movement in the past 48 hours,, fire moves sober in these smoky conditions, hasn’t progressed much in goat creek, still well above those structures. Assessing everything, as make progress will move from there forward.

 The Sawmill Creek fire has a team called from a fire last night. While waiting for equipment and access, they were able to go out with the local district today, scout the fire and plan for mobilizing resources as soon as they arrive. More information about this fire is available at 253.666.8841 in addition to the websites/Facebook pages referenced on this page.

 Plans are being developed to stay ahead of both these fires with a priority on responder safety, and areas where people and property are concentrated. Should any areas go under an evacuation order, the Sheriff’s department will notify all residents, including door-to-door notification. Evacuation decisions are made by that department.

 Community members have offered a lot of resources including money, volunteer hands and equipment. In a critical scenario, like this one, it can be a false economy to manage and mobilize those resources, impeding what the folks professionally trained to fight fires need to do. All offers are appreciated and will be accepted when/if they’re appropriate to the situation. Please keep in mind a “no” or “not now” response might feel counterintuitive, but is there for good reasons. Similarly, this isn’t a situation where an “all call” for anyone with fire training is necessarily appropriate. Regional fire crews are responding to needs like mapping and assessing properties for defensibility, but wildland fire crews need to be experienced working together. Throwing together 20 folks who may all have experience but don’t work as a coordinated team isn’t a feasible approach.

 Both fires present three particular challenges, which limit the responding strategies:

 1) Terrain, trail access and fire behavior limit where crews on the ground can go and what they’re able to do. Responders are engaging local loggers and other qualified folks to create better access/egress, but generally there isn’t a feasible way to get to the fire itself. Using the best strategy available, crews are working in front of the fire—watching the behavior, anticipating direction, and moving crews to stop its progress at a manageable distance for responder safety.

 2) Limited visibility due to smoke has inhibited air operations. Pilots haven’t been able to see the appropriate targets to locate effective drops. They also need visibility to make sure their long lines aren’t caught in the trees. At this point in time any drops would be water (not fire repellent) due to regulations governing this particular forest. The crews managing the incident are in continuous conversation with the forest service about whether a waiver could be secured; however, repellent isn’t necessarily an effective option in a forest with the kind of dense canopy we have here. The weather forecast looks hopeful for aerial operations in the next day or two, but clearer/less smoky weather also means fire activity may increase, as smoky conditions suppress that behavior somewhat.

 3) With extreme fires throughout Washington State, Oregon, Montana and other areas, including heavily populated areas, trained personnel and equipment are severely limited. Funding and political influence to get more crews here are not in shortage, but resources nationally are maxed out not only by wildfires but by the hurricanes in Houston and anticipated catastrophic landfall in Florida. The people managing these fires are summoning as many resources as they can, beg-borrow-steal style. They have daily update calls with folks who coordinate resources at the national level, based on priority.

 Community members whose businesses or homes have already been under Level 3 evacuation may be able to access their properties if escorted by law enforcement, but never alone at this time. Contact the Pierce County Sheriff’s department but please think carefully first about whether retrieving your belongings is a high enough priority to divert resources from other fire-related activities. 

 Most importantly, don’t do anything to impede or delay the responders working on the fire. Working on your structures, you can clear the property of debris, move cars out of garages, clear gutters, block vents with fireproof material, move propane tanks away from the house and deal with any other flammable material.


Fire Information links for the  Norse Peak/Sawmill Creek Fires 2017 White River Valley, Crystal Mountain and Greenwater 
Norse Peak Fire-INCIWEB https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5509/

Norse Peak Fire-Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NorsePeakFire/

Sawmill Creek Fire-INCIWEB https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5594/#

Sawmill Creek Fire-Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SawmillCreekFire2017/

Forest Service  https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mbs/about-forest/offices/?cid=fsbdev7_001660

Forest Service- Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest-Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/MtBakerSnoqualmieNF/

Washington Department of Natural Resources- http://www.dnr.wa.gov/                  https://www.facebook.com/Washington-State-Department-of-Natural-Resources-273352136518/

Washington Department of Transportation https://www.facebook.com/WSDOT/posts/10154781492526975

Mount Rainier National Park  https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort   https://www.crystalmountainresort.com/

Crystal Mountain Webcams   https://www.crystalmountainresort.com/the-mountain/mountain-report/webcams/

White River Recreation Association   https://www.facebook.com/groups/116924811846669

Greenwater Fire Fighters Association https://www.facebook.com/groups/173630809344132/

Buckley Fire Department https://www.facebook.com/City-of-Buckley-Fire-Department-2…/

Enumclaw Fire Department https://www.facebook.com/EnumclawFire/

NOAA- WEATHER AND HAZARDS DATA VIEWER http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/map/?obs=true&wfo=sew

Leave a Reply