From Bill Walker…
Here is another excellent write-up on the Whale Butte Fire by Moose Creek resident Karina Pettey…
Here is a brief update from our new Type 1 team on Whale Buttes, whom we met this weekend. They hit the ground running on Friday, August 31 and will be with us until September 14. We were personally concerned about the transition and how well information would flow between the teams. We also wanted to find out what type of monitoring they were doing as this fire is not dead and if the conditions are right, it could take off again.
First the big news…Whale Creek Estates structure protection removal was planned for today and homeowners on Moose Creek with structure protection can expect to see crews in to remove the equipment either Monday or Tuesday [Sep 3 or 4].
So we have a new fire manager, her name is Kate, she has taken over from Tony and it seems that the information flow between teams was excellent. She already had a basic understanding of the community and details on properties most likely to be at risk. Kate is from Montana and clearly understands the type of fuels feeding this fire. We also have a new supervisor,for the shaded fuel break work. His name is Striker and he is taking over for Matt.
The fire team is not taking their eyes off the fire. They are flying two recon flights daily around the fire perimeter and often an infared fly over happens at night. I learned today that heat sensing flight is done at about 40,000 feet. The ground perimeter is patrolled through out the day and the crews are working hot spots identified from the infrared information and any active smokes that kick up. Winds at the top of the ridge were fairly significant, today, there were two smokes within the fire perimeter that the crew worked to put out. Right now, they can go through an area, and think it’s good and a little bit later, it starts smoking again. Today there was 1 crew (20 members) and 2 engines (6 persons each) on the fire. She is ordering an additional crew to provide more eyes on the fire area and handle the flare ups. They do not want this fire getting away. Fire containment went up to 70% today. The northern boundary continues to creep and a significant portion of it now has a “hand line” dug in. The line is cleared of trees and debris about 4 feet wide. Crew members next dig a trench about 12 inches wide and 2 feet deep to prevent the ground fire from spreading through the duff. So far all the containment lines are holding.
On the shaded fuel break, work is progressing well. Crews finished with the feller/bunchers by Friday and now are focused on removing the downed trees to landings and processing them. We were told that they plan to remove all the debris generated in dump trucks versus burning slash piles. Expect Moose Creek to remain busy with large equipment for the next two weeks at least. The road remains closed to everyone but local traffic. So please don’t come calling! It can take us 20 minutes to go the two miles up to the Hall property or over to check on the neighbors down 1671depending on what crews are doing. Crews arrive between 7-9am and usually head out between 6-7pm.
The team meteorologist is watching a low pressure system develop which could come our way the end of next week. If it materializes, it has the potential to bring more rain our way.
Have a wonderful Labor Day and thank a fire fighter!