Re: Possible fire near Lake Edison
- John Ladd asked me to do daily Aspen Fire updates while he is on a trip:
Today, the fire broke above the 20,000-acre level, they have reached 70% containment, and have reduced staffing down to about 1800 firefighters. With big fires like these, once they reach about 70% containment, the fire is usually contained quite quickly... in this case they are still anticipating having it contained by Saturday, Aug 10. However, even after the fire is 100% contained, there will still be small interior patches that will continue to burn within the contained perimeter for several weeks, and also I anticipate the Southeast edge will continue to burn for a while too (see below). If all goes well, I'd guess fire will burn about 25,000 acres in total.
With all the smoke pollution impacting the hikers on the JMT, it will be nice to see this stubborn fire finally put out. However, don't expect the smoke pollution to dwindle over the coming week... the total production of low-level smoke will probably remain very high for the rest of the week as the firefighters conduct back-burns. Also, as the heat from the main fire declines, the smoke will not loft into the upper atmosphere... it will continue to stay close to the ground where it affects people. After the fire is fully contained in about a week, the smoke will begin to decline, but smoke production will continue for several more weeks, as interior patches and the Southeast edge continues to burn. I'd guess that all smoke production will be gone by early September.
Today firefighters started back-burning on the S edge (due west of Huntington Lake). Based on the topography (which dictates where they can bulldoze fire breaks), I anticipate that they are going to back burn about 2000-3000 acres to contain that portion of the fire. This might produce a lot of low-level smoke, which will exacerbate the smoke pollution. Also, some of this area is really low elevation (as low as 2500 feet) so there is a lot of hot-burning chaparral... let's hope a hot chaparral fire doesn't jump this line, or all bets are off. Recent winds have been from the SE, so it looks like the wind is in the firefighters favor along this line.
Although higher in elevation (about 5000-6000 feet), there is still a significant amount of hot-burning shrubs among the fire-resistant conifer trees (lots of Red Fir, I was told). A week ago, the fire jumped the first firebreak along this East edge, and the fire management team had to pull back and create a secondary fire break about 2-3 miles to the east of their first fire break, which led to at least another week of burning (and another 4000+ acres burned) along this edge. The fire is just now reaching their secondary fire break along this edge, and it looks like they are succeeding in catching the fire on this edge. They haven't said if they will back-burn along this east edge, but I think they will need to back-burn about 1000 acres in this area tomorrow. The map shows several spot fires along this line, so there is a slight chance the fire might jump this east line (again), which would be a real problem.
Originally, the fire management team was hoping to keep the fire from burning into the Kaiser Wilderness, by stopping it at a road running parallel to the north edge of the Wilderness. However, it jumped that road and is now burning south into the Wilderness. Since fire management folks usually try to avoid using bulldozers in the Wilderness Areas, it looks like they will rely on the bare rocky alpine ridge running through the Kaiser Wilderness to contain the fire. If this happens, they will probably allow the fire to burn through 3000-4000 acres of high-elevation sub-alpine forest, before it burns itself out along the edge of the bare alpine area. In other areas, this fire has burned into areas that didn't otherwise look burnable from aerial photos, so it might burn up to about 9,000 feet where the sub-alpine forest ends at the bare alpine zone. On a blog, someone mentioned that this fire had an unusually high elevation range (2,500 feet to 9,000 feet).
In summary, at 70% containment, the end is near. However, heavy smoke will remain a concern for another week (until full containment). Depending on how long it takes for the back-burn areas, and the Wilderness Area, to burn out, smoke levels might remain high for several additional days after full containment, then the smoke will dwindle for several weeks after that. I anticipate no smoke problems by early September. If all goes well this week, this fire will burn about 25,000 acres.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, John Ladd <johnladd@...> wrote:
> Just noticed that they have added an "estimated containment date" to the
> Aspen Fire reporting - Aug 10 (next Saturday).
- On Sat, Aug 10, 2013 at 9:11 PM, Chris <cehauser1@...> wrote:Chris - Thanks for the great reports,
This morning they posted what they are saying is the final fire update for the Aspen Fire. For that reason, I'll call this report my final report too. (Also, I'm leaving for my JMT hike this Friday, so the timing is good.)
John Curran Ladd1616 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114-3707