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Where There's Smoke

Posted by Diane Bedell at Aug 12, 2009 07:01 AM |
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So you’re about to head into the mountains for the day or the weekend, and you want to check just one last time where the wildfires are and how they might affect your plans. Do you know how to get the hottest fire information? (Small pun intended). 

One of the quickest places to check is the website  The goal of Inciweb is to be the one-stop shopping center for fire information, but it has its limitations. However, you can search by state, see press releases and maps developed for the fire, and read about predicted fire behavior on this informative web site. 

To find information about smaller fires (< 100 acres) you need to check individual National Forest or National Park websites. If you follow links to their "Current Conditions" web page, you should be able to read about current area and trail closures. However, I’m the first to admit it can be confusing to follow all the links and find the relevant information, and I used to work for the Forest Service. Just the same, click on any link that says "Closure Orders" or "Current Conditions" and you should be able to find the latest information.  Or for a fresh twist, some Forests are actually tweeting about their fires.

According to Inciweb, the largest fire currently burning in Washington is the Discovery Fire.  Because of this fire, the Naches Ranger District has closed the South Fork Tieton Road. This road is used to access several trailheads leading into the east side of the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The Goat Rocks Wilderness itself does not have any trail closures; but you can’t get to a couple of east side trailheads including Conrad Meadows and Bear Creek Mountain.  Check out the closure map for the Discovery Fire if you are headed in that direction.

Several small fires burning in the William O. Douglas Wilderness have necessitated an area closure that you can learn more about here.   The closure in the William O. Douglas includes Rattlesnake Tr. #1114, Indian Creek Tr. # 1105, and Shellrock Tr. # 1132 among several others, but it’s not just the trails that are closed, you simply can’t be in the closed area at all – so no cross country travel there either.   

On the Cle Elum Ranger District a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail is closed. The Pacific Crest Trail # 2000 is closed one mile northwest of Spectacle Lake but hikers can use trails #1323 and #1323.2 to bypass this closure and the detour doesn’t add any significant distance to your PCT trek. 

And happily, contrary to recent rumors, half of the Pasayten Wilderness is not closed, not this year, not yet anyway. Knock on wood.