From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 21 - August 16, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

BTNF Fire Smokes up Northern County
Hardscrabble, Middle fires are latest
by Joy Ufford

The northern reaches of Sublette County are being smoked up by a new wildland fire called the “Middle Fire” in the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) between the Greys and Little Greys rivers east of Alpine.

The Middle Fire was ignited Aug. 11 by a holdover lightning strike and by Tuesday had burned nearly 3,000 acres, according to BTNF Public Affairs Officer Mary Cernicek. The Snake River and Snake River Canyon remain open but the Little Greys River Road is closed at its junction with the Greys River Road, she said. Its location is just south of the ridgeline across from West Table about 1-1/2 miles south of the Snake River.

As of Tuesday evening the Middle Fire was only 20-percent contained with 50 firefighters on the scene, according to Cernicek’s report filed on InciWeb. The crews include 20 smokejumpers manning a district wildland fire engine, two helicopters and two single-engine air tankers (SEATs).

TheMiddle Fire is torching, crowning and spotting in pine and mixed conifers with rapid rates of spread occurring in grass and sagebrush. With high winds, low humidity and steep terrain encouraging the fire, it was continuing to move to the north and east after jumping the Little Greys road. Growth potential is high on steep slopes with heavy dry fuels.

Togwotee Pass is the scene of another large wildland fire – The Hardscrabble Fire -ignited by lightning Aug. 9 south of Moccasin basin, according to Cernicek. As of Tuesday evening that fire had burned 3,017 acres of timber and heavy dead and downed fuels from mixed conifers, with about 30 percent being beetle-killed timber.

Togwotee Pass and Highway 26 remain open although trails and forest roads in the area are closed. Cernicek noted that Hardscrabble “was much calmer on Monday Aug. 13 due to more favorable weather.” On Sunday, strong winds and heavy fuels had fanned its progress with the fire moving across Moccasin Basin into the Shoshone National Forest and toward the east of Lava Mountain. Tuesday, a Type 2 management team moved into place to assist forest firefighters; there were about 150 personnel on duty with five hand crews, two helicopters and five engines at work. Fire managers were continuing to coordinate with county and state resources in case a road closure or structural protection was required.

Closer to home, the Granite Fire puffed up smoke from another 25 acres burned over the weekend, bringing the total acreage to about 1,500 burned with a 40-percent containment on Monday, according to Cernicek.

Crews are beginning to blast burned trees to reduce the dangers of them falling across the Granite Creek trail when it reopens; camping is allowed only in the Granite Creek campground on a temporary basis, her report says. Farther south, the Salt Lick Fire is 80-percent contained, with 2,582 acres burned and little new to report, according to the last update on July 27. Its cause is listed as “human” but still remains under investigation.

The Horse Creek Fire, which burned 8,590 acres, is 100-percent contained as is the Pole Fire, which burned 1,044 acres earlier this summer.

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