Fire officials continue to monitor both the Hopper fire and White fire in Olympic National Park. As seasonal temperatures return to the Olympic Peninsula, fire activity should decrease.
As of late Wednesday afternoon, the Hopper fire has maintained its size, holding steady at 381 acres. The Hopper fire is located on Mount Hopper on the east side of Olympic National Park, at the headwaters of the Crazy Creek Drainage and Skokomish River in the Olympic Wilderness, approximately 11 miles north of the Staircase area.
Due to the Hopper fire’s reduced activity, no overflight is planned for tomorrow. Ground monitors remain in place to provide frequent and up to date information about the fire and its movement.
Current activity is dispersed across the ridgeline between Mount Hopper and Mount Stone, moving south and west towards the Skokomish River. The fire is burning in a mosaic pattern across the landscape and moving through a diverse vegetation grouping, including subalpine and Douglas fir, two species which require fire for regeneration and propagation.
An additional group of ten fire monitors arrived at the fire this morning to study the fire’s movement and weather patterns associated with fire behavior. The monitoring team will install six rapid assessment plots to better study fire behavior. Rapid assessment plots involve defining a perimeter around a small area, then identifying and measuring potential fuels (combustible material including living and dead vegetation on the ground); as well as determining the moisture content of the fuels present, the moisture and heat of the soil, and the speed, temperature, spread and intensity of the fire as it moves over the plot area.
The study plots will remain in place after the fire and continue to be monitored at set intervals over the next ten years in order to study the fire’s effects on native vegetation and wildlife.
“The Hopper fire offers Olympic National Park a unique opportunity to study fire ecology and regeneration processes up close, while protecting visitor and employee safety,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin. “Data collected through scientific study is relayed back to the park’s fire management office, providing valuable information that can be used in the decision-making process for future fires.”
To maintain visitor safety, the following trails are currently closed: the Skokomish River trail from Nine Stream to the Duckabush/Home-Sweet-Home junction, the Scout Lake way trail to St. Peter’s Gate at Mount Stone, the Hagen Lake way trail and the Mount Hopper way trail. As fire officials continue to monitor the area, additional closures may be necessary.
The White fire continues to burn 1/8 of an acre in Douglas fir forest approximately two miles north of Enchanted Valley Chalet. The fire was discovered during overflights on August 17.
Hikers should be aware they may encounter smoke in the Mount Hopper area. As conditions change over the next few days, hikers interested in exploring the eastern parts of Olympic National Park are encouraged to contact the park’s Wilderness Information Center at (360) 565-3100 or check the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/olym for current trail and alternative route information.
Both fires pose no immediate threat to life, safety or property. Based on the forest fuels, terrain conditions and habitat management goals, fire managers are monitoring fire conditions and allowing fire to play a natural role in this environment. Natural fire in the landscape is an essential ecosystem process that helps maintain the park’s diverse habitats by releasing nutrients that stimulate new plant growth, and creating a mosaic of vegetation communities.
Interested members of the public may call (360) 565-2975 for recorded information about the Hopper fire. Updates, maps and photos of the Hopper Fire are available online at InciWeb at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2065/.
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