Fire Comes to the Olympic Peninsula: Hamma Hamma’s Maple Fire

A forest fire is burning near the Hamma Hamma River in Olympic National Forest and shows no sign of slowing down. Growing almost 300+ acres in 24 hours, the Maple Fire has so far burned 350 acres as of August 7th, 2018 and has closed access to trails and roads on the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula. Even the Popular Hamma Hamma Road, home to popular hikes like Lena Lake and Lake of the Angels, is under a Level 1 evacuation notice. A crew of 80+ are fighting the blaze, but have just 5% contained. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. 

We all knew it was only a matter of time before the Olympic Peninsula’s warm and dry summer finally caught up with itself. In what seems to be like clockwork, the dog-days of summer hit and fires started popping up around the Evergreen State. The fires reached the Olympic Peninsula during the first week of August, marking yet another year of fires in the region. While small brush fires occur throughout the Peninsula, larger fires, like the one currently burning along the Hood Canal of Washington tend to happen only once or twice a year on average.

On August 6th, we received reports of a fire burning on the Jefferson Ridge near the Hamma Hamma River and started to see images and information reported online. Updated information and pictures of the fire can be found on the Maple Fire 2018 Facebook page.

The fire currently burning in the Hood Canal region of the Olympic Peninsula is known as the Maple Fire and is burning near Elk Lake and Jefferson Creek, not far from the popular Lena Lake Trailhead. The fire has brought smoke to the region and closed roads and trails. Currently the only restrictions for outdoor enthusiasts are the closures of Forest Service roads 2401, 2421 and 2480. The trail closures currently are limited to the Jefferson Ridge Trail and the Elk Lake Trails, with a smoke warning for those hiking in the Hamma Hamma River Valley. The Lena Lake Trail and Lake of the Angels Trail is reported to have minimal visibility and visitors are being told to expect smoke-filled air for the next few days, at least.

The Maple Fire on the Olympic Peninsula. Image via Maple Fire 2018 FB Page
The Maple Fire on the Olympic Peninsula. Image via Maple Fire 2018 FB Page

Roughly 80 firefighting personnel are battling the blaze, which is burning in a steep and remote location, making it hard to fight. Crews are currently on the east side of the fire, but are scouting out places to take aggressive action on the steep and unstable western slopes. National Guard air resources are working with Olympic National Forest and Department of Natural Resources members, as well as the firefighting crews to try to get a handle on things. As of August 7th, the fire is only 5% contained. The Maple Fire is putting off a large column and heavy smoke that can be seen for miles around, as well as from satellite imagery, as seen at the top of this page.

While the fire experiences heavy burning in the center areas, crews are working hard to maintain the perimeter and limit the growth. While we are in a Red Flag warning, the fire will continue pushing hard through heavy timber and mature trees for at least the next few days.

As always, stay safe out there and make sure you are aware of the burn bans around Washington State before heading out! Hopefully, the Maple Fire can be contained quickly and not spread too much further. We will continue to monitor the fire and will provide updates whenever things change. Again, for up to date info, follow the Maple Fire 2018 facebook page.

Satellite Imagery of the Maple Fire on the Hood Canal of the Olympic Peninsula. Image taken August 7th, 2018

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By Doug and Mathias on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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