Due to high fire danger conditions, Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin announced a ban on backcountry campfires in Olympic National Park effective Aug. 3.
All campfires are prohibited in the park with the exception of those in established fire pits in front country campgrounds.
Of the 12 fires recently ignited by lightning in the park, five were active as of Aug. 3. In all, 526 acres are afire or being threatened.
Continued warm and dry weather, air quality and smoke concerns and a shortage of firefighters throughout the West prompted fire managers to undertake suppression or confinement actions on four of the active fires, park officials said.
This includes the Ten Mile Fire in the Duckabush drainage, the Constance fire in the Dosewallips drainage, and the Solduc and Morganroth fires in Seven Lakes Basin.
At 350 acres, the Constance fire in the Dosewallips drainage is the largest of those in the "Heatwave Complex" of fires. On July 30, 10 firefighters were assigned to the Constance fire and three helicopters dropped water on the fire's east and south flanks.
Due to rock-fall from steep slopes and the potential for fire spread, park managers extended trail closures in this area to include the main Dosewallips trail from the park boundary to the junction of the Gray Wolf Pass and Dose Meadows trails, the Constance Pass trail inside the park and the trail from Dose Forks to Honeymoon Meadows.
"We appreciate the public's
understanding and support of these actions to ensure visitor safety," Gustin said.
The Buckinghorse fire (about 100 acres) and Knife fire (0.5 acres) in the upper Elwha continue to be managed to allow fire to have its natural role in the forest ecosystem, park officials said. They advise that although the fires in Seven Lakes Basin and the upper Elwha are not affecting the trail system at this time, hikers should be aware they may encounter smoke in these areas and that if fire activity increases, limited trail closures may be necessary.
Lightning storms on June 13 and July 11 resulted in more than 30 lightning strikes within the park.
Updated information on trail closures is available through the park's Wilderness Information Center, 565-3100.
Fire management updates can be tracked on the Web at www.inciweb.org. See the "Heatwave Complex" at www.inciweb.org/incident/1774/.
A lightning event started the Constance fire in the Dosewallips drainage on July 11.
Initially about 180 acres in size, the Constance fire burns in very steep terrain northeast of the Dosewallips Ranger Station. Due to rock-fall from the steep slopes, park managers closed the Dosewallips trail between the park boundary and the Dosewallips Ranger Station on July 29.
Smoke from the Constance fire reached Brinnon as a result of down-valley winds created by that day's thunderstorm and may be visible from the Kitsap Peninsula. Objectives are to contain the fire within park boundaries, potentially through the use of a helicopter to drop water on the fire's east flank.
The Ten-Mile fire began as a result of a lightning strike around June 23 in the Duckabush drainage. Located about two miles inside the park boundary near the Duckabush trail, the Ten-Mile fire is being managed to allow fire to play its natural role in the forest ecosystem.
Upslope winds accelerated spread of the Ten Mile fire; by the end of the day on July 30, the fire was about 150 acres in size.
Seven Lakes Basin, Mount Wilder
Fire personnel confirmed three new fire starts in the Seven Lakes Basin and three fires in the Mount Wilder area as a result of a lighting storm. Natural-start fires such as these and the Constance and Ten-Mile fires help to maintain natural diversity and structure of park forests and meadows, with direct benefits to wildlife such as woodpeckers and elk, and vegetation such as Douglas-fir.
"These fires are a natural part of the Olympic ecosystem," Gustin said. "Our goal is to manage them in a way that is both safe and ecologically beneficial."