Fires spark post-storms
By Richard Anderson, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
July 30, 2012
Thunderstorms Friday and Saturday made for dramatic skies over Jackson Hole and sparked numerous small fires throughout the region.
Teton Interagency Fire recorded 1,940 lightning strikes in 24 hours Friday and Saturday. Sixty-five of the lightning strikes were positive strikes, which have more electrical charge than do negative strikes and are more likely to start fires, a press release from the Teton Interagency Fire stated.
Firefighters scrambled to follow up on reports of smoke and take action on new fires. Lightning sparked several new fires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and at least two fires in Grand Teton National Park.
On Saturday afternoon, firefighters were attempting to locate two additional reported sources of smoke, one southwest of Pilgrim Peak and one on Angle Mountain in the Togwotee Pass area.
The first reported fire was the Ham’s Ridge Fire, a lightning fire burning 1/10 of an acre about three miles west of the Elk Creek Guard Station on the Kemmerer Ranger District. Sheepherders spotted the fire at 2 a.m. Friday. Four Teton Interagency firefighters responded from Kemmerer and Pinedale with a wildland fire engine Friday morning, and the fire was declared out at 5 p.m. Friday.
A Teton Interagency helicopter delivered two helitack members at 6 p.m. Friday to suppress the Crystal Creek Fire, which was burning in a single lightning-struck tree. The fire was located within the Gros Ventre Wilderness in the Crystal Creek drainage and was declared out at 7:15 p.m.
Friday evening, Teton Interagency Fire crews responded to the Brush Fire, located off Brush Creek Road in the Jackson Ranger District, about four miles east of Cunningham Cabin. The Brush Fire was less than 1/10 of an acre and burned in heavy timber and grass understory. Firefighters declared it out at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Firefighters responded Saturday morning to a fire reported near Uhl Hill. The quarter-acre lightning fire was actually southeast of Uhl Hill and south of Enyon Draw, just inside the boundary of Grand Teton National Park. The park and forest management made a joint decision to suppress the fire, which is called the Diamond L Fire. It was contained at 3:30 p.m. and declared out by 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Blacktail Fire in Grand Teton National Park, reported just before noon Saturday, was burning in one lightning-struck tree and a small spot around it. Fire crews hiked in to suppress it. They had it contained by 2:40 p.m. and declared it out at 7:24 a.m. Sunday.
Mid-afternoon Saturday, Teton Interagency helitack responded to a smoke report in the Ham’s Fork area of the Kemmerer Ranger District, close to Friday’s Ham’s Ridge fire. They found a quarter-acre fire burning in heavy timber and responded with a helicopter and an engine. With bucket drops from the helicopter, crews were working to contain it Sunday afternoon.
In the Teton Wilderness, the Butte Creek fire is being managed to provide benefits to the forest and wildlife habitat. The fire began July 25 in the Teton Wilderness, about 40 miles north of Dubois. On Saturday, it was burning about 1 acre of bug-killed trees. Officials determined it was lighting-caused and were monitoring it Sunday. It had not closed any trails.
To keep track of fire information and fire restrictions, visit www.tetonfires.com.