Jim Creek Fire
Fire near rural homes
The Jim Creek fire was burning in the Bridger Wilderness, approximately 1-1/2 miles from the nearest private property. USFS photo.
Helicopter water drop
Helicopters were utilized to drop water on hot spots and steer the fire in directions fire managers wanted it to go. USFS photo.
The Jim Creek fire put up a large column of smoke on July 17, 2006. USFS photo.
The Paulton engine crew prepares management action point 9 on September 14th. No, this isn't a swimming pool for the firefighters. Water is pumped from this 'orange pumpkin' cistern and runs through pipe to sprinklers layed along firelines. USFS photo.
The Forest Service held several community meetings at The Place in the Upper Green to inform residents about the status of the fire and to answer questions and concerns. USFS photo.
A great example of wildland fire for resource benefit
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
September 20, 2006
Wildfires aren’t necessarily all bad. In the early days, the philosophy of the public and the Forest Service was to put out all wildfires. Now, forest managers recognize that fire can be a valuable tool to help make the forest healthier.
The Jim Creek fire is a great example of a wildland fire for resource benefit. This fire was started by lightning in late June in the Jim Creek drainage within the Bridger Wilderness, approximately 24 miles north of Pinedale.
This fire was more of a challenge because it was in the Upper Green River area which has become more populated with homes built adjacent to forest. This meant forest officials had to manage not only the fire, but the public’s concerns about the fire’s movement near their homes, and smoke issues.
"There are multiple benefits for doing wildland fire use for resource benefits," said Mark Randall, with fire Operations at the Pinedale Ranger District. "A big benefit for us, and the folks who live up there, is fuels reduction. We’ve been so efficient and successful in putting fires out for the past 50-100 years that we’ve allowed dead fuels on the ground to build up. This fire has cleaned some of that up and now they already have a built in natural fuel break up there."
Fire managers carefully monitored the fire’s progress from day to day and developed a management plan that included trigger points which would activate more intensive fire control should the fire change direction and move toward the private residences. When the fire was very active, there were several 20-person crews working fire lines and setting up hose lays and sprinklers, several engines, and helicopters dropping buckets of water on hot spots to force the fire in the direction fire managers wanted it to burn.
During the course of the summer, fire officials held several public meetings to keep residents of the Upper Green informed on what the fire was doing. The Forest Service posted informational signs around Pinedale and at The Place restaurant and guest ranch in the Upper Green to let the public know the status of the fire. Information for this fire was also posted daily on the Inciweb.org website with current maps, photos and announcements regarding the fire and road closures.
"We tried to be in there talking with people as much as we could, especially when the fire was really active," said Public Information Officer Nan Stinson. "People would call our information line with questions or concerns. Their main concern was that the fire was too close to their homes," she said. "The closest point on the fire is a little over a mile and a half from private land. Not structures, but the boundary of private land. The majority of the fire was further away than that," Stinson said. "It looked closer than it actually was."
"This is a tool we need to use," stressed Jim Creek Fire Incident Commander, Candi Eighme. "The forest ecosystem needs fire to help our natural resource. With bug kill and the devastation the forest is seeing with the drought, fire brings back a healthier situation."
Randall added, "Some of the benefits are to wildlife. Where the fire initially started there were benefits to bighorn sheep by opening up some site paths up high. There are also benefits to elk, deer and moose in the availability of forage in sage and willows. They still have hiding cover. Not all of that was taken away. People were concerned about that a lot. Big game animals are going to benefit for the availability of forage. There is also a little benefit for livestock that are up there for the same reasons," Randall said. "The fire will provide benefits for years to come."
"It was actually a very well-behaved fire," said Eighme. "We had people monitoring it throughout the duration."
By late September, the fire reached a little over 3,700 acres in size, with a mosaic pattern of burned and unburned areas. Fire officials expect the fire to smolder and flare up occasionally until "a season ending event", which means when snow finally puts it out.
Personnel and Crews that assisted with the Jim Creek fire:
Candi Eighme, Jim Creek Fire Incident Commander
Mark Randall, Operations, Pinedale Ranger District
Nan Stinson and Angie Crook, BTNF Public Information Officers
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