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2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Discussion related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:15 pm

kpeter wrote:The most encouraging part of the story Caddis pointed to is this:

The Rim Fire has burned 77,000 acres in wilderness areas in the northeast corner of Yosemite, but only 7 percent of that area was considered high intensity that would result in tree mortality, said Chris Holbeck, a resource biologist for the National Park Service.

"It really burned here much like a prescribed fire would to a large degree because of land management practices," Holbeck said.

Hopefully, much of the damage in the Kibbie/Flora/Eleanor region will not be severe, and perhaps many of the trees will survive. It might be worth a pack trip next June to see!

Yes indeed this is encouraging news. Nonetheless, I'm rooting for some rain to come in and snuff this out before it proceeds up Kendrick Creek to Kendrick Creek Lakes and Edyth. I think of the big mature trees in that drainage and hope that there is insufficient fuel beneath them for them to burn, should the fire reach them.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:43 am

I found this very interesting site:

http://tmappsevents.esri.com/website/ri ... tives-map/

The part I found most illuminating was the 3rd feature, which allows you to map the Yosemite National Park fire history. You can see the Kibbie Complex Fire outline from 2003 (went up Kibbie Ridge and reached the West shore of Kibbie Lake), the Frog fire from 2006 (surrounded Laurel Lake went up Morraine Ridge), etc.

This makes it very clear why the Rim fire did not go further north and get to Laurel Lake. Its northern boundary is almost identical to the southern boundary of the Frog Fire.

Unfortunately, the area south of Kibbie and north of Morraine Ridge has not burned before, so that is why this fire threatens some of our favorite areas.

Also interesting is that the Rim fire burned right over the huge Ackerson fire from 1996 in the whole Cottonwood Creek/south of Hetch Hetchy area. That was only 17 years ago--I doubt that the trees that were regrowing from 1996 were tall enough to escape the brush fire, so it sounds like that the clock will be reset on regrowing from the Ackerson fire.

To get an idea of how fires are managed in NW Yosemite, I went back and read newspaper accounts of the Kibbie fire of 2003.

http://www.uniondemocrat.com/News/Local ... -clear-air

Apparently lightning set off about 5 fires along Kibbie Ridge on July 29, 2003. These fires were allowed to burn together and they kept going until October 3, 2003. They were only extinguished when the smoke began to blow back and anger people in the central valley. Obviously the Kibbie Ridge trail was closed during this time. Anyone who has hiked the Kibbie Ridge trail since 2003 can tell you what the effects of this slow "low-intensity" fire were--it certainly did kill many trees that are still falling across the trail with every windstorm. But it did not sterilize the ground the way that the Rim Fire did on August 21 and 22.

The fires that are still smouldering are probably a lot more like the Kibbie Complex fire at this point than they are like the center of the Rim Fire. But anyone who expects the current fire to prune brush while leaving forests intact--well, take a look at Kibbie Ridge.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:21 pm

Dramatic flare-up today in Cherry Creek canyon in an area that had been dormant. The fire went suddenly from Cherry Creek (just north of Cherry Creek Lake ~4900') to the top of Kibbie Ridge (~6960') and is now burning on top of Kibbie ridge right on the trail in the direction of Lookout Point. All this area burned in 2003, so this is 10 years of brush and what the 2003 fire left. The fire had burned earlier on Kibbie Ridge but gone out--this is reigniting the ridge from a different direction--the bottom of the canyon.

I've fought fires in mountainous terrain before, and this kind of fast flare--uphill thousands of feet--on a hot day--is really problematic. That may be why at 3:00 this afternoon the Forest Service announced they are putting back the expected containment date by 10 days, to October 1.

IMGP2344.jpg
Cherry Lake burn zone from 2003, recently burned again in 2013 Rim Fire


IMGP2348.jpg
Near Lookout Point, this area has not burned yet.

I include the last picture to show the kind of terrain on Kibbie Ridge that is now burning, although it has not yet reached the precise point shown.
Last edited by kpeter on Fri Sep 20, 2013 7:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby maverick » Fri Sep 20, 2013 6:34 pm

Kpeter wrote:
Dramatic flare-up today in Cherry Creek canyon in an area that had been dormant.


This is not good news. :( The weather system moving in seems to be loosing strength
and has increasing winds which is not good news.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:22 pm

Radar shows bands of rain have passed through the Kibbie/Eleanor fire zone beginning around 2:20 this afternoon. Snow level projected at 7900 feet--so this storm is not just bringing dampness, but some cool weather.

No new hotspots or expansion of the fire perimeter are showing since yesterday.

Lets hope this is the end of it.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:57 pm

We just drove home and it rained (very intense and hard rain) from Monitor Pass to Sacramento. The rain was so intense that we could hardly drive in places. In Lee Vining we could see big black clouds over Tioga Pass. It has been ghastly windy the last three days (we were in Little Lakes Valley out of Rock Creek). But, no sign of smoke anywhere on the east side.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Sat Sep 21, 2013 8:29 pm

As of this morning, the incident report noted:
"The fire will continue to spread slowly in rocky areas within the Yosemite and Emigrant Wilderness Areas east of Cherry Lake and north of Hetch Hetchy reservoir."
Just as we surmised, they were letting it burn and this is the only area where it is not being confined within lines.

A good article on the damage, which is uneven, and the threat of erosion in particular:
http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_2 ... ng-erosion
I have seen several references to the destruction of an historic 1930s ranger cabin, and elsewhere I learned it is indeed the Miguel Meadows station.

Meanwhile, Cherry Lake had .11 inch of rain today and the humidity is 86%. The high today was only 63. No new hot spots have appeared, nor has the fire perimeter expanded today.

Tomorrow will be sunny, 70, with 10 mph wind, and 54% humidity. While I would like to see more rain, that forecast is not the kind where one would expect a flare up or expansion of the fire, particularly with a little dampness left from today's rain.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:23 pm

Fire map today shows no new or old hot spots, anywhere. However, the fire perimeter has expanded some on Kibbie ridge and is nearly to Lookout Point. Whether this is due to slow smouldering post-storm or is simply an update of pre-storm fire damage I do not know.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:30 pm

No hot spots for three days, the only expansion since the storm was an additional 1/4 mile of Kibbie Ridge. The Incident Report for today reads:

Fire activity continues to be limited to isolated smoldering. Fire crews will continue to patrol and extinguish any remaining hot spots near containment lines. Firefighters continue to monitor the continued slow spread of fire in the Yosemite and Emigrant Wilderness areas between Cherry Lake and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.


This means they are just letting the fire alone in the backpacking zone. There will be a few smoldering patches, particularly as roots burn underground, since there are no mop-up crews working the wilderness. (Believe me, it is no fun to put your boot into one of those holes.) If October should turn dry and hot the fire could erupt again, but if the weather stays cool and if we get more precipitation, then we have already seen the full extent of the damage.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:22 pm

Rim Fire Round Up

The Fire management people closed up shop today and turned the last smoldering patches of the Rim Fire back over the Stanislas National Forest and Yosemite National Park. There have been no new hot spots since the rain storm last week, and the perimeter has not expanded. It would still be dangerous to walk around in certain areas since roots can continue to burn underground for weeks. The greatest damage to the trails is yet to come, when winter storms dump water on denuded hillsides.

After the 2003 fire on Kibbie Ridge there was so much deadfall over the trail that most reports on this website indicated the trail had nearly vanished. It was finally cleared in summer of 2011--8 years after the fire, and still by the next summer (2012) there were already 80+ deadfall over it from one winter's blow-down. Depending on the severity of the fire the deadfall can be at its worst a few years after a fire, since old dead trees fall down more easily than new dead trees. In any case, it is likely that all trails through the burn zones will be similarly impassable or difficult for years to come, until enough winter storms have knocked down enough dead trees to enable the trails to be kept clear for more than a season at a time.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service, already under sequester, will be overwhelmed. They could not clear Kibbie Ridge even annually before the fire, and now they will have dozens of trails in desperate need of work. It will take years, and it is a near certainty that some of the trails will never be repaired and will vanish.

I think it likely that some of the trailheads will not reopen for a long time--maybe not at all next year--given that there will likely be severe erosion to the roads, and the Forest Service is already undergoing a crisis in funding--before a shutdown. I could imagine Shingle Springs closed for a full year, for example, since it is prone to erosion already.

With this bad news about NW Yosemite, I am thinking increasingly of the Emigrant Wilderness for my early season hikes next year.
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Re: 2013 Fire & Smoke Reports

Postby kpeter » Fri Oct 04, 2013 3:43 pm

Very hard to get any updates. The official daily report today says:

The Rim fire is now being managed by the Groveland and Mi Wuk Ranger Districts on the Stanislaus National Forest. Minimal fire spread is expected in the next 24 hours and fire behavior continues to be creeping and smoldering. There is one 800-1000 acre pocket of vegetation near Kibbie Lake that remains with a potential to burn.

While they might mean that the fire may still come to shoreline, there are some islands of vegetation left unburned south of Kibbie. Hopefully it will be the latter.

I did find this interesting map from September 30 posted, I presume, just before the government shutdown.

http://www.inciweb.org/incident/map/3660/0/

What I found interesting was not the red "uncontrolled fire edge" lines which were generally where we knew they were letting the fire burn, but the fact that there was a black "completed line" from Cherry Lake across Kibbie Ridge and as far east as a point due south of Kibbie Lake. It seems that they did build some lines in the wilderness, and we may see evidence of that when we get back there. Those would have to be hand lines.
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Re: Rim Fire Started By Hunter

Postby seanr » Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:37 pm

maverick wrote:http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rim-fire-cause-conclusion-20130905,0,4661208.story


The man lied, initially claiming a rockslide caused the fire, then pot growers, before admitting it was his illegal campfire, and now he has been named and charged:

http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/07/661322 ... p=/99/749/

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-m ... story.html
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