Wild fire to smolder for several days
July 31, 2013
By Sherry Grindeland
Crews from Eastside Fire and Rescue will continue to monitor the 444th Fire near Mount Si for several days said a Washington State Department of Natural Resources spokesperson July 29. Eighteen acres of timber and brush in steep terrain between Mount Si and Little Si burned in the wildfire that began about midday July 26.
The wildfire was named the 444th Fire because that is the nearest road to the site.
At one point, 80 firefighters from EFR, Duvall, Snoqualmie, the U.S. Forest Service, the Seattle Watershed and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources were battling the blaze. A DNR helicopter, based in Ellensburg, flew in Friday afternoon to drop water on fire.
When the helicopter and crew arrived they established a landing base. One crew member stayed at the base site to keep it clear. Two other crew members oversaw the dipping site where the helicopter pilot loaded his 240-gallon canvas bucket from the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. The helicopter could make the trip between the fire and the river in about three minutes.
Before long, firefighters were able to contain the blaze and stop using the helicopters.
Another helicopter joined the bucket brigade Saturday. The second helicopter was operated by a private contractor. The DNR copter was released Saturday night and the contract was on standby through Sunday. It was released Sunday evening.
“There is no longer the need for a helicopter,” said Denise Day, the communication supervisor at the South Puget Sound DNR Regional office. “Ground crews will be able to mop up and monitor the scene.”
In the first 24 hours, firefighters managed to construct a trail around the burning area to prevent the fire from spreading. As of July 30, the fire was 85 percent contained. The burned area will continue to smolder for several days. It will not be declared officially out until there are no more hot spots or smoke.
Trail closures remain in effect for the Mount Si, Little Si and Garden Loop trails. Officials are not sure how long the trails will remain closed.
The wildfire was named the 444th Fire because that is the nearest road to the site. No details on how the fire began are available beyond a determination that it was human-caused.
No evacuations were necessary during the fire. Only one abandoned structure was near the burning area.
SnoValley Star Photographer Greg Farrar contributed to this story.