Aerial Tour of Summer 2013 Fires
In September, as Public Land Advocate for EPIC, I was provided the opportunity to do an aerial tour of this summer’s wildfires. As with most fires in Northern California, a majority of the fire areas burned at low and moderate severity. Over 50 miles of bulldozer lines were constructed and estimated costs for suppression efforts reached up to one million dollars per day. EPIC advocates for appropriate land management in order to restore fire on the landscape and to protect communities rather than continuing the expensive chaotic military style of fire suppression.
There are always lessons to learn after an active fire season. This year, local river communities and tribes worked closely with fire and Forest Service personnel, unlike years past. These small changes over time may one day find us well-prepared and ready to welcome fire. (All photos courtesy of Kimberly Baker, unless otherwise noted.)
Salmon River Complex
Salmon River Panoramic: Butler Fire on left, Forks Fire on right – photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin
The human caused Butler Fire on the main stem Salmon River reached over 22,000 acres and burned for nearly two months. The estimated cost for suppression was $36,000,000. Approximately 27 miles of bulldozer lines and approximately 10 miles of hand fire lines were constructed.
Surrounding Butler Flat – Photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin
Overview of mosaic burn patterns
Fire line near Orleans Mt. summit
Fire line Somes Mt. summit
Extensive 5 mile bulldozer line on Hotelling Ridge
Forks (North Fork)
The human caused North Fork Salmon River Fire reached nearly 15,000 acres. It burned for the month of August with suppression costs of $23,000,000. Over 8 miles of hand fire lines were constructed as well as over 5 miles of bulldozer lines. Overall, a vast majority, 10,658 acres of the fire burned at low severity, 3,250 at moderate and 802 acres burned at high severity.
Complete overview North Fork Fire – Photo courtesy of Thomas Dunklin
Downstream Forks Fire
Fire line burnout
The Dance Fire in the town of Orleans reached 650 acres and burned for nearly a week. Tragically a home belonging to a Karuk elder was completely lost.
The naturally ignited Corral Fire outside the Hoopa Valley and Willow Creek burned entirely within the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The fire reached over 12,000 acres and burned for nearly two months. Approximately 21 miles of bulldozer line was constructed and approximately 18 miles of hand fire line was constructed.
Corral Fire in Trinity Alps Wilderness
Corral Fire with Megram Fire of 1999 in background
Mosaic burn patterns
Mosaic burn patterns
Corral Fire lines
Bulldozed fire line
The Dance, Butler and Salmon Fires were all intentionally set. There is a $20 000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for starting the Salmon River Complex and Butler Fires. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Arson Tip Line at 1-800-842-4408.