Lightning caused Brown Mountain fire
Tongass National Forest fire danger is very high
By MARY KAUFFMAN
May 22, 2015
(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Lightning storms occurring late Wednesday evening started several fires in the Tongass National Forest. One of those fires is in the Brown Mountain area on the Ketchikan Ranger District approximately 15 miles north of Ketchikan. Forest Fire Management Officer Tristan Fluharty said, “Lightning fires are very unusual on the Tongass. This is an indication of how dry the forest is. Fire danger is very high across the Tongass”.
Wednesday evening, lightning in the distance behind The Plaza, Ketchikan
Photo by WESTON DAVIS ©2015
According to Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Carol Lagodich, the fire is located in steep, rugged terrain which is preventing firefighters from reaching its location. A fire crew sent to Brown Mountain Thursday evening searched for several hours but could not find a safe route to the fire. A helicopter was assisting the crews and made several water drops on the fire.
“The top priority in all suppression actions on the Tongass National Forest is public and firefighter safety,” said Forest Fire Management Officer Tristan Fluharty. “Managing risk to firefighters is one of the most important things we do, and in this instance the risks did not warrant taking further action. We will monitor the fire and take appropriate action if the fire progresses.”
Lightning towards Gravina Island, Ketchikan
Photo by BILL MECK ©2015
High temperatures are forecast for the Tongass National Forest through the Memorial Day weekend. Tongass fire officials are asking that all area residents be cautious with any open fire activities. If you do have any type of a fire, do not leave it unattended at any time, and please make sure you take the time to put it completely out.
Today, the Tongass National Forest also announced that active timber contracts on the Craig, Thorne Bay, and Wrangell Ranger Districts began operating under an Industrial Fire Precaution Level or “Hoot Owl” restriction. Some forest activities and work are limited during the heat of the day. “Hoot Owl” restriction began on May 22, 2015.
“This means that the contractor can only load, haul, and grade between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m.,” said Ted Sandhofer, Sale Administration Program Manager. “No felling, yarding, blasting, welding, or other sale activities may be done in the afternoon”.
Industrial Fire Precaution Level restrictions lessen the chance that there could be an operations fire. Sandhofer explained. “We will take the restrictions off once the weather changes back to a more normal range. Hoot Owl is a historic term used to notify woodcutters of elevated fire danger and to only cut in the morning hours when you can hear hoot owls. This has developed into the modern policy.
Lightning storms occurring late Wednesday evening started several fires in the Tongass National Forest. One of those fires is in the Brown Mountain area on the Ketchikan Ranger District approximately 15 miles north of Ketchikan.
Map courtesy Google Maps
High temperatures are forecast for the Tongass National Forest through the Memorial Day weekend. Tongass fire officials are asking that all area residents be cautious with any open fire activities. If you do have any type of a fire, do not leave it unattended at any time, and please make sure you take the time to put it out completely.
Late Wednesday evening, the lightning and thunder was the result of an organized area of convection moving south to south-southwest at 15 mph that approached the Ketchikan area around 10 pm. According to the U.S. National Weather Service Alaska, over 800 lightning strikes were reported during the evening hours.
Thunder and lightning lasted in the Ketchikan area approximately two hours, ending around midnight Wednesday.
Source of News:
U.S. Forest Service
U.S. National Weather Service Alaska
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