[7/25/17] Diamond Creek Fire Likely Human Caused- Estimated At 250 Acres- In Pasayten Wilderness

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Diamond Creek Fire has grown to 250 acres since it was first reported by a hiker on Sunday morning.  The eight smoke jumpers and a twenty person crew were supported by helicopters as they worked to hold the fire at Diamond Creek.  Fire behavior included short range spotting, single and group tree torching and upslope runs.  The fire spotted across Diamond Creek Monday afternoon.  Most fire growth was toward the east.

Suppression efforts have been successful in slowing the progression of the fire, allowing for the safe evacuation of hikers and outfitters from the Hidden Lakes area.

Fire personnel are making in-person contacts with hikers along the evacuated trails to inform them of the closure and provide information about alternate routes.  Given that the Pasayten Wilderness is more than 500,000 acres, there many alternate trails and camping areas under no immediate threat from this 250 acre fire.

Weather:  The short term forecast is for continued hot and dry weather, with slight increases in temperature and lower relative humidity levels. 

Today:  Firefighters are doing reconnaissance to identify opportunities to confine the Diamond Creek Fire and are doing structure preparation work for the cabins near Middle Hidden Lake as well as the Hidden Lakes Trail Bridge that crosses Diamond Creek.  The historic cabins near Middle Hidden Lake are used by wilderness rangers in the course of their work. 

As the Fire has grown over the last two burn periods, the strategy continues to be adjusted to balance the probability of success with the exposure of firefighters to risk.  The successes seen with direct suppression tactics are not proving effective enough in stopping the fire spread to warrant the exposure of firefighters to risks in this location.

A Wildland Fire Module, which is a small group of 7-10 specialists dedicated to planning and implementing long term strategies for fires is expected to arrive in the area on Wednesday.  That team, with input from local firefighters, will help to develop a long term strategy for the Diamond Creek Fire.

When wildland fires occur, agency administrators constantly evaluate changing conditions to determine and adjust the appropriate management response.  Common tactics for suppressing unwanted wildland fires include confine, contain, and control.  In the near term, the anticipated tactic for Diamond Creek Fire would be one of confinement.

“While fire plays an essential ecological role, it also has a destructive potential in relation to human life and structures,” said Michael Liu, Methow Valley District Ranger.  “As managers we consider the health and safety of our firefighters in conjunction with ecological needs and structures or other resources that may be at risk.  These factors are ever changing in the fire environment, therefore our assessment is ongoing and strategies are dynamic based on the circumstances.”

Closures:  The following closures remain in place to provide for public and firefighter safety.