No fire activity, growth at Sylvan Fire with 10% remaining uncontained
The Forest Service is lifting all closures in the area this week
In mid-June, the Sylvan Fire broke out just south of Eagle, ignited by lightning and ultimately burning across nearly 6 square miles of the White River National Forest. For the past few months, fire personnel and crews have remained in the area, tending to, monitoring and patrolling the area.
David Boyd, the public affairs officer for the White River National Forest, said that the fire has not been active or grown for more than a month, remaining at 3,792 acres and 90% contained.
“It has been quiet in the interior,” Boyd said.
The remaining uncontained line is on the difficult-to-access south side of the perimeter, he said.
“There is still a section of rugged terrain on the south side that we are not calling contained. This is not a safe area for firefighters to effectively work,” Boyd said. “It could heat up if we have the right conditions, but if it does, it would burn up into the rocks and wouldn’t be expected to grow significantly.”
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The area could be fully contained depending on fall weather, however, “it might not be called fully contained until we get snow,” Boyd said.
Five personnel remain in the area to patrol, however, Boyd added that this crew is not actively engaged in any fire suppression. These crews are working on suppression repair, or repair of the firelines.
“Crews and equipment dig firelines down to mineral soil during suppression activities,” Boyd said. “They are now repairing those areas.”
There were times, however, in July where action was required from crews on the scene as “areas heated up,” he said. Throughout July, crews worked on these hot spots, battling warm and dry temperatures and climate.
During that time, crews also worked to complete logging operations on the south side of the perimeter, which helped to remove hazardous trees, improve firefighter safety and increase the effectiveness of containment.
Even as crews remain on the scene, there are areas where plant life is returning.
“In many areas the fire burned with moderate intensity and the vegetation is already recovering,” Boyd said, adding that because the fire burned in a “mosaic of moderate and higher intensity,” the higher intensity areas have not seen any revegetation begin.
Further impacts to the area will be evaluated in the coming days, with a Burned Area Emergency Response Team, also known as the BAER team, arriving this week.
“These are soil scientists, hydrologists, recreation specialists, ecologists who evaluate if there are immediate actions that can be taken to minimize impacts following the fire,” Boyd said.
Because the area has seen no fire activity for over a month, the Forest Service will be lifting all closures in the area as of Thursday. However, as with any burned area, the department does ask that those that go into the area keep safety top of mind.
“If you go into a burned area you need to be aware of increased hazards from falling trees, rocks and debris flow if there is rain,” Boyd said.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.