Maple Fire Slowly Creeping West

Heading into the weekend, the Maple Fire continues to slowly creep westward along Jefferson Ridge. Smoldering vegetative material rolls downhill and ignites the fuel below, causing “fingers” of fire to spread from the main fire toward the Hamma Hamma River near Lena Lake Campground. Fire crews will clear brush, trees and other fuels along Forest Road 2502 to serve as a backup containment line.

The fire backs down Jefferson Ridge on the south bank of the Hamma Hamma River. Photo by Jacob Welsh

According to an Infrared (IR) flight Thursday night, the wildfire burning in the Olympic National Forest about five miles west of U.S. Highway 101 and Hood Canal is now 1,668 acres in size and 52% contained.

On Friday morning, Western Washington Incident Management Team under the leadership of Jim Shank assumed management responsibilities of the Maple Fire. With the majority of the work necessary to box the fire in along the north, east, and south portions of the fire completed, some resources are being released to support other wildfires nationally. The new team will continue to build upon firefighters’ successes, while maintaining enough firefighters on hand to keep the fire from growing beyond established control lines.

Over the last two days pilots have deployed unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, equipped with infrared sensors to explore hotspot activity around the fire. Thermal sensors have shown that areas are cooling along the containment lines to the east and south margins of the fire, indicating that firelines are holding. Sensors also show that fire activity continues to move upslope on the south slope of Jefferson Ridge.

Temperatures in the 70s are forecast for the weekend with moderate humidity which should keep light fuels such as grass, moss, and fir needles relatively moist, slowing fire spread. Air quality should continue to improve for the Olympic Peninsula. However, smoke from the Maple Fire, as well as fires from California to British Columbia, may continue to impact the Hood Canal and surrounding areas.

Closures in the Olympic National Forest continue. Road closures include Forest Roads 25, 2502, 2421, 2401, 2441, 2401, 2421, and 2480. Trail closures issued for Living Legacy Interpretive Loop (#802), Upper/Lena Lake Trail (#810 & #811), Beaver Pond Loop (#815), Putvin Trail (#813), Mildred Lakes Trail (#822), Jefferson Ridge/Lakes Trail (#808), and Upper/Lower Elk Lake Trail (#805). Facility closures include Hamma Hamma Cabin & Campground; Lena Creek and Lena Lake Campgrounds.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in place over the Maple Fire area, restricting access for all unauthorized aircraft including drones. If a drone flies over a wildfire, all aircraft must be grounded, which can drastically inhibit critical fire suppression efforts. Flying any aircraft within the TFR is prohibited and violators will be prosecuted.