Cascade Complex, 2 Months, 300k Acres, $50mil.

Map from Inciweb.

The Cascade Complex wildfire had been burning since July 17. The fire has now burned close to 300,000 acres. The fire is burning in parts of the Boise, Payette, Salmon-Challis National Forests.

Acreage to date per Inciweb is as follows;

“Updated acres include: Monumental – 286,205. Acre summaries are based on “administered forest” boundaries: Boise National Forest 197,037 Payette National Forest 32,277, Salmon Challis National Forest 56,670, Private 221..”

30% containment, yes, after 2 months it’s 1/3 contained. They should just rename this fire “The Forest Service Full Employment Act Fire Of 2007”.

Think I’m wrong? From the Incident 209 yesterday we read this;
“Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?

The current strategy is open-ended, some containment objectives are being achieved and threats point protection targets are being reduced but full containment is not the current strategy. The current strategy will likely not change until a season slowing event is reached.”

That means SNOW. This sucker will burn until it snows!

However once you read on and see the fuels involved it makes some sense.

“Fuels/Materials Involved: Heavy Logging Slash”

So this is a managed fire feeding off the transgressions of the logging industry. Nearly 1,000 firefighters and nearly $50 million spent so far to clean up the slash left by loggers.

We should note that 15 firefighters have been hurt to varying degree over the last 2 months.

I recall a fire we responded to in a virgin redwood grove in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We accessed the fire smoldering in a logger slash pile and I have to tell you the scene was out of a science fiction post nuclear war film. I can’t figure out how the logging crew left such a mess.
There were craters and mud bogs, stumps and slash everywhere. This had to be the work of wood poachers. We shocked some pot farmers ferrying 55 gallon water barrels to their gardens and I asked them who created this mess and they were no help. They were polite because they were scared someone in a uniform was so close to their hidden operation. Surely they didn’t want tree cops snooping around after my crew left so they were mum, but they knew.

Bottom line is loggers often leave a mess and the forests involved in the Cascade Fire sound like they are getting cleaned up. Sounds strange but thinking of it this way helps to rationalize the $50 million price tag.
No price can rationalize the 15 injuries though. Maybe the Whalen ICT, with help from forest managers can trace back the responsible lumber companies for some help in suppression costs. Concentrated logging slash/trash is unnatural.

How many of these 15 injured firefighters were hurt because of the unpredictable fire activity contributed by these piles in the forest?

Surely though all 286,000 acres is not slash, maybe they should put this one out before the first snow.

A commenter below asked what defines slash! Here you go.

10 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    thanks for keeping on this one.one comment that i would have is that while there may be some slash involved, most of the land being burned by these fires is backcountry that hasn’t been logged.i agree that slash can be a huge problem for firefighters – the moonlight fire just ripped off over 60,000 acres on the plumas NF – some of these areas that i saw had HUGE slash loadings.back to cascade – i think that you are right that the feds should take some time to dig into how decisions got made on this one – i was on this fire early on – within a week we knew that it was going to burn until it snowed (this was obvious IN JULY!!!) so why did it take so long for them to make a decision to back off and do point protection?visit the FUSEE blog to read more about the way that this event unfolded.thanks for your writing!

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  • Mike says:

    Ember, the photo link did not resolve but thank you for the comment.

  • Ember Heart says:

    Hey, I know I’m a little late, but my Computer crashed and I couldn’t upload it. I made this for the Fire Fighters and Police Officers, “In memory”I hope you don’t get mad for me commenting off topic, but you nobody would have seen it if I commented in an old post. My way Of saying, Im an American, and a New Yorker. Here’s the link:http://i233.photobucket.com/albums/ee132/Glacy-/INMemof9.11.pngHope i did ok. ^_~

  • Mr Sansom says:

    wonderful stuff.

  • Mr Sansom says:

    Your site was on the blogspot homepage and having just spent a few days filming Barrick miners at the Fire Science Academy in Nevada i had to check out the blog. thanks for sharing.all the best,

  • Anonymous says:

    Regarding the fires in Idaho — firefighters from CalFire couldn’t believe the difference in fighting fires in Idaho — apparently, everyone quits at 8 p.m. and goes back down the mountain. No wonder they don’t get firse put out in a timely fashion. In California, you work 23 hour shifts and also have prison firefighters helping and working the lines together. Maybe the Forest Service needs some lessons?

  • empath4u says:

    Dear Firefighters,What a tremendous job that you do!I know nothing about this…I’m a nurse. I do not know what constitutes “slash” left by the loggers??

  • J. Wei says:

    Nice site . . . very informative! Keep up the good work!

  • k. borcz says:

    That’s Horrible! 🙁