Firefighting resources will begin demobilizing from the fire today
With mop-up objectives nearly met in the South Branch (Barker Canyon) and approaching 80 percent complete in the North Branch (Leahy Fire), the Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #4 (WIIMT #4) announced today that firefighting resources will begin demobilizing today and tomorrow, and that it plans to transition the management of the 92,000-acre Complex to a Type IV incident management team Sunday, September 16, 2012.
Approximately 100 demobilized firefighters – hand crew members, single resources, equipment operators, and a strike team of engines – will be reassigned to other large fires burning in Washington State, or returned to their home units.
The fire is now 63 percent contained.
Crews are finishing mopping up the interior smokes and within 200 feet of the perimeter in the 75,000-acre North Branch, as winds pick up slightly and begin switching from the southwest to the northwest today. Palm infrared cameras are being used to find heat around homes, barns, structures and fences throughout the interior of the Branch.
Several small burn-outs conducted in unburned fuels in the northern portion of the North Branch yesterday are also being mopped up today. Dust devils, 30 feet in diameter, were observed by firefighters yesterday as an unstable air mass moved over the fires and stirred up smoke and flames, helping crews to locate and mop up remaining hot spots.
Mark Sigrist, operations section chief for the WIIMT #4 told firefighters at the Team’s morning briefing, “Wind is our friend today because it is going to help burn up any remaining fuels that we want burned up and help us finish mopping up this fire.”
Add One Barker Canyon Fire Complex News Update Friday, September 14, 2012
The firefighters at the Complex have been securing the area around structures for several days, creating fuel breaks between them and contiguous, unburned grass and sagebrush. Fire lines around structures have been constructed by hand and using dozers and graders. Fire that had smoldered in some piled lumber was enlivened by winds yesterday, igniting a barn. The structure was saved by a strike team of engines nearby.
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-80s today, and winds will gust to 15 miles per hour, which is less than originally predicted. The unseasonable, dry weather is expected to continue for several weeks, a cause for concern for local firefighting agencies.
The Level 2 evacuation order for the fire area was lifted late in the morning on Wednesday, September 12, 2012. All county roads within the fire area remain closed. State Highways 17 and 174 are open.
The Complex was started by lightning Saturday night, September 8, creating two fires. The Leahy Fire, now the North Branch of the Complex, started 13 miles northwest of Electric City. The Barker Canyon Fire, now the South Branch, burned along the northern shore of Banks Lake and threatened the town of Coulee Dam (population 1,107). The fires were combined into one complex on Monday night.
No firefighter injuries have been reported for the Complex. Three houses and nine outbuildings were destroyed in the North Branch of the fire.
According to Larry Nickey, WIIMT #4 incident commander, the hard work of all firefighting personnel has paid off.
“I want to commend and thank all of the firefighters and support personnel for their extraordinary efforts in containing this fire and preventing the loss of lives or serious injuries,” Nickey said. “Everyone worked hard to protect homes and structures throughout this large fire, and our hearts go out to the owners of the three homes lost to the fire,” he said.
“The Type IV incident management team, under the direction of the Bureau of Land Management, will continue to patrol the fire and protect the valuable lands and homes in the next several weeks until rain brings an end to the firefighting season,” he said.
Fire Facts – Thursday, September 14, 2012 – 0900 HOURS
Fire Size: South Branch (Barker Canyon) 17,049 Acres; North Branch (Leahy) 74,834 Acres – Total Acreage: 91,883
Evacuations: Level II Evacuation Order has been lifted Percent Contained: 63% Fuels: Sparse timber, grass/understory/ bitterbrush, sage, slash, snags and down fuels in draws/canyons Expected Containment: September 18, 2012 Air Resources: None Engines: 48 Dozers: 3 Water Tenders: 25 Overhead: 76 Total Personnel: 263 Total Estimated Cost to Date: