Updated Thursday, June 19th at 9:42AM PST
As we reported on Monday the 15th, a forest fire is currently burning in the Queets Rainforest of Olympic National Park. Reported to us via social media, and later confirmed by a press release, Olympic National Forest and Park Officials are reporting that there is a small forest fire burning in the Queets Rainforest near Alta Creek, 33 miles south east of Forks, Washington. The fire, now known as the Paradise Fire, was spotted by plane during a flight by Olympic National Forest staff. Crews are said to be on the way to the scene to conduct a confinement strategy with minimal operational resources. The fire has burned approximately 381 acres with 5% containment.
Olympic National Park officials are reporting that firefighting crews are taking action today, with hopes to limit the spread of this fire. They also mentioned, via tweet, that the fire was started by a lightning strike at the end of May. A 10-person crew is currently in the area, and updates will be shared when they report the progress.
The Queets Rainforest is one of three distinct rainforest regions on the western slope of Olympic National Park. It is the most remote section of Olympic National Park, with no maintained trail leading up the often incredibly steep river valley. Fed by the melting snow and glaciers of Mount Olympus, the Queets River is home to one of the most isolated waterfalls in America, Service Falls.
The summer of 2015 has the potential to be one of the more serious forest fire seasons in recent memory for the entire west, including the rainforest regions and old growth forests of the normally wet Olympic Peninsula. We will monitor this story, as well as the continuing drought in America’s rainforest throughout the summer.
While camping in the backcountry, please remember to always follow the campfire guidelines for the area, using extreme caution at all time. Campfires are great, but be aware that they can get out of control faster than most think. Keep them small and always extinguish them fully before you go to sleep and before you leave for the day. Douse them with water, cover them with sand, do what needs to be done to keep the forests fire free…at least the human caused ones.
To monitor the fire on your own, please visit the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center’s Website.
Read Olympic National Park’s Fire Management Policy here.
A section of the official press release from Olympic National Park reads as follows:
A fire monitor flew over the area yesterday and observed the fire near the confluence of Paradise Creek and the Queets River. The fire is currently burning slowly along the river but is bounded by extremely rugged and steep terrain. The Queets River Trail is closed at Bob Creek until further notice to protect public and employee safety.
“We will continue to monitor this fire and are calling in resources to help us assess it and develop a safe and appropriate response,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Human safety is our top priority and any response to a wilderness fire will address firefighter safety as our first concern.”
A three-person Olympic National Park crew is hiking to the area today to make the first on-the-ground assessment of the fire, fuel moisture and other conditions.
Tomorrow, a ten-person wildland fire crew from northern California will arrive. This crew is specifically trained in evaluating conditions and risks associated with wilderness fires. Information gathered by the ground crews will be used to develop a long-term strategy for managing the fire. Factors including human safety, current and forecast weather conditions, fire location, terrain, and unique natural and cultural resources are all considered in crafting a response plan.