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It's Wildfire Season: Closures, Conditions and Air Quality

Posted by Keiko Betcher at Jul 24, 2017 04:00 PM |

Read the latest on wildfires in Washington and the health risks associated with them, as well as resources on how to stay safe during wildfire season.

While summer is the prime time for hiking, it also happens to be the season of wildfires. It is important to know if your planned hike is near a wildfire, and when necessary, to head elsewhere when air quality conditions might be a factor.

Find out about current wildfires, how to check conditions, and about the health risks associated with smoke.

Diamond Fire July 2017 USFSSmoke and flames from the Diamond Creek fire on July 23, 2017. Photo/USFS.

Current Wildfires

As of July 24, 2017, InciWeb reports seven active wildfires affecting the state of Washington, three of which have closed campgrounds and trails.

Diamond Creek Fire: Most likely started from a campfire, this new fire on the edge of the Pasayten Wilderness has closed the popular Billy Goat Trailhead and the following trails for public and firefighter safety:
  • Hidden Lakes #477
  • Larch Creek #502 from trailhead to McCall Trail #548
  • Drake Creek #502B
  • Burch Mt. #502A
  • Dollarwatch #451

Rangers have found several smoldering campfires in the area this season, a good reminder about how to properly extinguish a campfire.

Noisy Creek Fire: A lightning-ignited on the south slope of Hall Mountain in the Colville National Forest, this fire has closed several forest roads, campgrounds and trails, including:

  • Noisy Creek Campground
  • Lakeshore Trail No. 504
  • Noisy Creek Trail No. 588
  • Hall Mountain Trail No. 540
  • Hall Mountain-Grassy Top Trail No. 533
  • Grassy Top Trail No. 503 from Pass Creek Pass to its intersection with Hall Mountain-Grassy Top Trail No. 533

 

Sullivan Lake Campground remains open, and the fire has not impacted any of the campgrounds or recreation opportunities along the Pend Oreille River, though there may be more smoke in the air.

 

Farther east, the North Fork Hughes Fire in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness has also closed:

  • Hughes Fork Trail No. 312

 

 

Check conditions & HOW TO Report a fire

It's a good idea to check official sources, like Inciweb, before heading out. They will have information, maps and recent updates about all wildfires burning across Washington. You can also follow the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Fire account at @waDNR_fire. To report a fire in Washington, call 800-562-6010.

If you are wondering about air conditions, trip reporters can also be a useful source of information. For example:

  • LelandK reported smoke from the British Columbia fires on the Boundary Trail - Pasayten on June 8.
  • Lbreckinridge also reported a haze from the British Columbia fires made for a not-so-clear vista from the top of Tiffany Mountain on June 11.
  • reneeadele reported a trail closure 5 miles into the Eagle Creek Trail due to a wildfire on June 15.
  • The Salmo - Priest Loop TrailThe Shedroof Divide between 311 (Jackson Creek) & 312 (Hughes Fork) is closed due to the North Hughes fire.


CONSIDER Air quality in PLANNING YOUR HIKE

While hikers need to understand the potential dangers of encountering a wildfire, smoke from wildfires can also pose a hazard. The state Department of Ecology issues daily updates on air quality using a scale ranging from good to hazardous, and they're worth checking if you're considering a hike anywhere near active wildfires. 

As wildfire season begins in earnest, it is a good idea check the air quality map before hiking or spending much time outside. This is especially true for people who could be especially sensitive to smoke: people with asthma, respiratory infection, diabetes, lung or heart disease, or have a had a stroke may begin to have breathing problems. Pregnant women, young children and older hikers may also be more impacted by poor air quality from wildfire smoke. 

20148205773_d4b0fe62f6_o.jpgA helicopter looms over Highway 97 on its way to put out a wildfire in 2015. Photo by Samuel Cukierman.

WTA Hike Finder Map: Fire Overlay

To help make your wildfire research a little easier, we've added the official fire map overlay to our Hike Finder map. It will help give you a little more context for where fires are burning in relationship to your favorite trails.

A few notes about using the overlay:

  • To turn the overlay on and off, toggle the button in the top left that says 'USFS Fires.'
  • Note that the orange-shaded areas show the closed areas, not where fires have burned.
  • The map is not real-time. Some fires may need to reach a certain size or have been burning for a few days before they make it to the map.
  • To get more information about a fire, click on the green triangle, which will provide you a link to the relevant InciWeb site.

USFS Fire OverlayThe perimeter of the Noisy Creek and North Fork Hughes Fires on July 24, 2017.

Fire Safety

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