As with all natural systems, balance is inevitable and the storm cell that dampened the persistent Alum Fire near Fishing Bridge village Thursday, also produced lightning that started at least one new wildfire in the park. The only confirmed start, the Caldron Fire, was reported by eyewitnesses at the Mud Volcano and is located approximately 1.5 miles northeast of the Mud Volcano Area. Observed shortly thereafter by recon aircraft, the lightning ignited heavy, fallen fuels in a lodgepole pine stand. A second start is thought to exist southward in the LeHardy area, but that smoke was inconsistent and, to date, could not be verified. Interestingly, the incident meteorologist recorded over 700 cloud-to-ground strikes in the park yesterday afternoon, so additional starts elsewhere in the park should be expected. All the individual wildfires within Yellowstone National Park’s Druid Fire Complex, now over two weeks old, continued to succumb to afternoon thunder showers and increased relative humidity.
Friday will bring a drying weather pattern to the park region and fire behavior analysts foresee the most fire favorable weather in at least 10 days. Although the mention of increasing fire risk brings fear, we must remember that fire plays a natural and key role in Yellowstone’s ancient ecosystem. Currently no cultural or historic infrastructure is threatened, and solid plans are in place to protect park visitors and assets should the unexpected occur.
The four other fires currently being monitored within park boundaries (the Druid, Alder, Passage and Snake) have shown minimal activity in recent days, but they will continue to be taken very seriously in light of the emerging weather pattern.
The indirect fireline work that took place behind the government housing complex and Bridge Bay area has reached the “rehab” stage. In this final stage, firelines are proven clear of flammable woody debris, then regraded and “fluffed” to remove compaction, allow for proper drainage (preventing erosion), assure that new vegetative ground cover can be established, and return the area to as natural a state as possible.
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