A BLOG ABOUT WEATHER FORECASTING AND OBSERVING AS IT RELATES TO STAR VALLEY, WYOMING IN PARTICULAR
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Lava Mountain Fire
The Lava Mountain Fire has been burning since July 10th when it was initiated by a lightning strike. The fire is located west northwest of Dubois WY just south of US26. Above is a video from the Lava Mountain Cam this afternoon and evening pointed at the fire.
Evacuation Update and Closures
Residences from MacKenzie Highland Ranch to the Lava Creek Ranch are currently in evacuation stage "GO". This means they are leaving immediately. All other residences west of Big Diamond Ranch are in.more
Lava Mountain Fire is burning northwest of Dubois on the Wind River Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest and is active in thick timber. The fire was caused by lighting and smoke was first reported on July 10th. Firefighters walked the area and made several flights. However, for the first few days, crews were unable to locate the fire due to its lack of size and visible smoke. On July 16th the fire grew to around 250 acres due to increased temperatures and wind. At that time, additional resources were ordered and a Type 2 Incident Management Team was deployed to Dubois.
Because of the significant amounts of dead and down trees and snags it is unsafe to engage the fire except for those areas where the Forest has conducted numerous fuel reduction work. As a result of this work, the intensity of the fire is greatly reduced which then allows for firefighters to safely engage the fire.
For these reasons, suppression efforts are focused on the east side of the fire along Forest Service Road 540 and the private structures in the valley. In addition to structure protection on private property, suppression efforts are actively taking place along the Forest Service Road 540. If the conditions are appropriate, firefighters will conduct a burnout designed to remove the fuels between FSR 540 and the main fire. If done, this burnout will help prevent the fire from running across the road and towards the nearby structures. While spot fires may still occur, this back-burn will help provide a more defensible position for crews to protect the structures from.
Air support is being also used to assist in suppression efforts. In dead and down timber, water and fire retardant temporarily reduce the fire’s intensity in the immediate area. To be most effective, aerial resources need to work in conjunction with firefighters on the ground so they can take advantage of the opportunity. Air operations are not being used in areas that are currently unsafe for firefighters because without that team work, the attempts to curb fire growth would likely fail. We are also sharing these resources with other incidents. So, based on threats and safety concerns, the number of helicopters and planes actively working the Lava Mountain Fire will likely change throughout the day.
Current as of
7/20/2016, 9:00:52 PM
Date of Origin
Monday July 11th, 2016 approx. 11:00 PM
20 miles northwest of Dubois, WY
The fire is burning in dense standing dead timber that spreads slowly except for when weather allows for continuous heating of heavy fuels and/ or exposure to wind. When weather aligns for growth, trees are torching and producing short range spotting leading to the majority of the growth.
All resources available at Lava Mountain are currently working the fire. Day crews will continue suppression efforts until around 10:30 pm at which time night crews will take over.
Crews will continue working with landowners to protect property through point zone protection, evaluation, and preparation of structures.
Projected Incident Activity
Fire spread will be reduced overnight but will continue with continuous heavy fuels. Point zone protection and patrol will occur in areas near structures overnight. Thursday is expected to have more favorable weather with cooler temperatures, higher humidity, and less wind which may slow fire growth. Continued fuel preparation and structure protection measures will continue and use of aviation and ground resources to reduce fire spread as needed for point zone protection.
Evacuations are occurring for affected residences along Hwy 26 between Mackenzie Highland Ranch and Lava Creek Ranch. Highway 26 remains open but Forest roads 540, 662, and a portion of 532, along with Motorized Trail 10 are closed.
Tomorrow, winds west to southwest at 12 mph and gusting to 22 mph will contribute to fire spread although temperatures will be slightly lower with a high of 79 degrees and the relative humidity rising to 18 percent.