Courtesy BLM / J. Shoyer
The Goose Creek fire burning near Grouse Creek and Etna in northwestern Box Elder County did not have any appreciable growth on Tuesday, but thunderstorms that developed over the area Wednesday afternoon could change that.
Aug. 1 · Sean Hales · Managing editor
The Goose Creek fire in northwestern Box Elder County, which has consumed 122,916 acres (192 square miles) and destroyed three outbuildings, did not have any appreciable growth yesterday, Tuesday, July 31, according to information released today from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. But that could change as thunderstorms develop over the area.
Winds from those thunderstorms could significantly hamper firefighting efforts by accelerating or changing the direction of the blaze. Furthermore, given critically low dead fuel moisture, any lightning strikes from the storms could start another blaze and complicate the situation.
“...microbursts can be a dangerous and unpredictable situation for firefighting,” wrote BLM Public Information Officer Vince Mazzier in an email. “ These downdrafts have no particular direction, they are variable and erratic, causing fire to move in unpredictable ways and fanning available flames and causing extreme fire behavior. When these occur in a fire area they are always a ‘watch out’ situation for our firefighters.”
The area where the fire is burning is prone to extreme fire behavior, with recent fires growing more than 20,000 in 24 hours. This year, the area has around 200-300 percent more fine fuels, and dead fuel moisture is near historical lows for this time of year. Even sagebrush live fuel moisture is reaching critical levels. Information from the Great Basin Coordination Center’s “Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory” said that under such conditions, as well as other existing factors, even retardant is not effective unless “immediately followed up with firefighters and/or used in conjunction with bucket drops.”
Structure protection, and minimizing risk to Grouse Creek and Etna townsites, remains a priority of firefighting efforts.
Fire officials are urging caution in wildland areas where any form of ignition has a 90 percent chance of starting a fire. There are still fire restrictions in place on public lands, including:
1. No campfires, except in permanently constructed cement or metal fire pits provided in developed campgrounds and picnic areas.
2. No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area that is paved, barren, or cleared to mineral soil.
3. Cutting, welding, or grinding metal in areas of dry vegetation.
4. Use of any tracer or incendiary ammunition of any caliber.
5. Possession or use of any kind of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices, pyrotechnics or fireworks, or exploding targets.
6. Use of any Sky Lanterns, Chinese Lanterns, Fire Balloons, Acetylene Balloons or similar device.
7. Use of any Off Road Vehicle (ORV) that is not equipped with a properly installed and maintained spark arrestor. Spark arresters shall meet the 80 percent efficiency level standard.
As of today, the Goose Creek fire is 35 percent contained, with full containment estimated by next week, Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Box Elder News Journal
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