For July 5 report, please click here.
Updated 11:30 a.m. consistent with report from the fire information officer.
KANE COUNTY – The Shingle Fire which began Sunday six miles south of Duck Creek Village in Shingle Mill Canyon, thus the fire’s name, was assessed this morning at 9,000 acres. At 11: 15 a.m., the fire size estimated is reduced to 8,200 acres, with ten percent containment. It is currently burning towards Highway 89 and away from Duck Creek Village.
Summary update and today’s forecast from Mark Wilkening, Fire Information Officer
Yesterday afternoon’s red flag warning for gusty winds and low humidity materialized and challenged firefighters on the Shingle Fire. Winds continued into the late evening creating very active fire behavior driving the fire toward the northeast and into the Elk Ridge subdivision. Retardant drops were ineffective and a single home was lost. Several additional spot fires were attacked and successfully extinguished and mopped up. The fire burned to within several hundred yards of Highway 14 and one mile west of HIghway 89.
Night crews were successful in constructing dozer line on the north flank and around the head of the fire. The line construction continued south on the east perimeter.
Today on the north flank, crews will continue to improve and hold the dozer line; and patrol and mop-up any hotspots. On the east flank, crews will build hand line moving south from the newly constructed dozer line. Hand line construction, holding and mop-up will occur on the west and south flanks.
Major changes in the weather are expected to begin this afternoon. Cloud cover will increase with a 30 percent chance of wetting thunderstorms. Temperatures are expected in the mid 70’s degrees and relative humidity with a minimum of 17 percent. Gusty and erratic winds near any thunderstorms could occur. Otherwise winds will continue to the late evening and then subside.
Containment assessment process / burning periods
Fire Information Officer Mark Wilkening said he truly does believe the fire responders are making progress. He said that the fire needs to go through what is called a “burning period” before they are comfortable claiming containment percentages. “Zero doesn’t mean we don’t have control lines already in,” he said, “it just means it hasn’t gone through the burning period so that we are comfortable saying (the lines) are holding.”
The highest temperatures combined with the lowest humdities constitute a burning period. This usually occurs in late afternoon, but not necessarily so. Fine fuels start the fire (dry lightweight materials, pine needles, for example), heavier fuels sustain the fire (branches, for example), and even heavier fuels drive the fire (tree trunks, for example).
Mandatory evacuations remain in place for the Swains Creek, Stout Canyon, Ponderosa Village, Harris Flat and Elk Ridge subdivisions, and the Uinta Flat and Turkey Track areas north of state Highway 14.
Power was restored to all residents
At approximately 8:30 pm last night, Garkane Energy returned power to communities along Hwy 14 corridor from Duck Creek Village to Long Valley at the junction of HIghway 89.
Highway 89 remains open and HIghway 14 remains closed from the junction of Strawberry Road to the junction of Highway 89. Additionally, Forest area closures and evacuations are in effect for Uinta Flat and Turkey Track areas north of Highway 14. Road closures and evacuation requirements are assessed daily with the primary concern for public safety.
Wilkening said that a Type II Command from Central Oregon took over the fire at 6 p.m. yesterday – Specifically, Mark Rapp’s Central Oregon Incident Management Team. The incident command post is located near Duck Creek at the Cedar Mountain Fire District.
The differences between Type III, Type II and Type I command relate to the complexity of the fire and the amount of overhead, training, management and team communication the commands can bring to the fire. Type II teams have been around more complex fires, Wilkening said – it could be with regard to structures, homes or the terrain itself – this is a team that has training this type of fire.
Type III teams are usually more local and Wilkening said the local teams here “did a phenomenal job.”
“The type II team is more highly structured and they can also draw in more resources, like more engines, there is a whole group that deals only with air attack and air operations,” Wilkening said. They have operations chiefs and pre-identified supervisory commands. “Communications is key in any management and (the Type II teams) have worked together for years.”
The fires burning in Colorado are an example of a complex fire situation that required Type I teams to take command.
Total personnel: 374 Crews: 10-Type 1 and Type 2 crews; Helicopters: 2-light, 2-medium, 1-heavy lift; Engines: 33, Dozers: 3, Water tenders: 6 and Overhead: 41
The Shingles Fire is human caused, as previously reported, ignited by a faulty ATV spark arrester on an ATV traveling off road in dry vegetation.
Structure loss and injuries
Wilkening’s July 4 morning report states that one home has been lost. Crews are working to secure the fire where 550 residences, 1 commercial property and 300 outbuildings are threatened. And one injury has been reported but details are not provided at this time.
Fuels, fire and the ecosystem
Among the fuels this fire is feeding on are what Wilkening characterized as “standing dead trees” or “bug kill” (for example those that perished due to the bark beetle infestation). These help push and sustain the fire, on the one hand, but the fire helps to cleanse the forest on the other hand. Wilkening said this is not the preferred way to cleanse the forest and is why the Forestry Department and associated agencies coordinate prescription fires. That is, he explained, you go in a logging area, or other area, you remove dead trees or bring in a mechanical piler and pile them up. Then, in the winter months when you have snow or rain or in the early spring, when conditions are at the optimum – surrounding forest wet, for example, with minimum risk of catching fire – the agencies will do a prescribed burn to consume some of that dead wood.
“Fire is part of the ecosystem,” Wilkening said. “Any forest system, any green system, is very complex so we have to be extremely careful; that’s part of that urban interface and why folks need to educate themselves: ‘What can I do to make my property more safe?’”
What can be done to make forest area homes more safe
Wilkening said there are many programs, that a lot of it has to do with removing the brush, creating the defensible space, removing wooden roofing, doing what might be thought of as spring cleaning – removing pine needles from roofs and surrounding areas (they are the light fuels, flammable because they contain pitch, which are easily ignited).
When people go to their mountain cabins, they want to relax and recreate. But it’s important to take the time to remove trees and debris that is up close to the house (he said that studies in the Colorado fires investigating why some neighborhoods have burned more than others are revealing a high incidence of junipers planted up near the homes which burned, junipers suck up a lot of water but when they don’t get water they are dry and highly combustible; “it’s like planting gasoline next to your house,” Wilkening said.).
Words of admonition for those in any areas that may be susceptible to fire: If you wait until you need to make your home fire resistant, it’s too late.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.