Campfires banned in Olympic National Park, Forest

Leader news staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 9/16/20

Campfires have been banned in the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park, park officials announced late last week.

The ban was prompted by “the unprecedented fire incidents in …

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Campfires banned in Olympic National Park, Forest

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Campfires have been banned in the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park, park officials announced late last week.

The ban was prompted by “the unprecedented fire incidents in Oregon and Washington,” officials said, along with the need to fit with state and county campfire restrictions and reduce smoke in already poor air quality conditions.

The ban on all campfires, including charcoal-based fires, started noon Friday, Sept. 11.

The closure will be in effect until it is rescinded, officials said.

The ban does not apply to gas or propane stoves. Gas or propane camp stoves may still be used in the wilderness backcountry but should be operated well away from flammable vegetation and forest litter, officials said, and extreme caution is urged with any open flame. 

Park officials also gave an update Friday on the Mount Lena Fire, which was sparked by lightning Aug. 16. The fire continues to burn in the southeast portion of the Olympic National Forest in the Hamma Hamma area, and it grew to an estimated 20 acres late last week.

Firefighters began battling the blaze by using rappelers and helicopter water drops during the initial attack on the forest fire, and officials noted that the rainy weather earlier this month that followed in Olympic National Forest did not help contain the fire. 

Fire personnel are continuing to monitor fire behavior, and a confinement strategy is being used to keep the fire north of the Hamma Hamma Road and west of Cabin Creek. Five personnel have been deployed to fight the fire.

Due to the steep, hazardous, and inaccessible terrain, park officials said the Mount Lena Fire long-duration event that will continue to burn until a season-ending weather in the fall.

For public safety, Olympic National Forest has implemented a fire closure of the Lena Lake trail system (Trail No. 810, No. 811, and No. 821) due to its proximity to the Mount Lena Fire. 

The closure prohibits public access to trails that lead to both Upper and Lower Lena lakes, as well as the southern portion of The Brothers Wilderness. All visitors past the Lena Lake trailhead at the junction of Forest Road 25 is prohibited. 

The trail and area closure will be in place until the fire no longer poses a threat to the area, officials said.  

Officials also said that heavy smoke on the Olympic Peninsula from unprecedented wildfires in Eastern Washington and Oregon is expected to linger in the coming days. Detailed information about air quality and wildfire smoke impacts on health as well as smoke modeling tools and guidelines for considering whether to modify activity can be found online at www.wasmoke.blogspot.com. 

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