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Pinedale Online > News > September 2006 > Jim Creek Fire

Fire near rural homes. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Fire near rural homes
The Jim Creek fire was burning in the Bridger Wilderness, approximately 1-1/2 miles from the nearest private property. USFS photo.

Helicopter water drop. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Helicopter water drop
Helicopters were utilized to drop water on hot spots and steer the fire in directions fire managers wanted it to go. USFS photo.

Smoke Column. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Smoke Column
The Jim Creek fire put up a large column of smoke on July 17, 2006. USFS photo.

Pumping Water. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Pumping Water
The Paulton engine crew prepares management action point 9 on September 14th. No, this isn't a swimming pool for the firefighters. Water is pumped from this 'orange pumpkin' cistern and runs through pipe to sprinklers layed along firelines. USFS photo.

Community Meeting. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
Community Meeting
The Forest Service held several community meetings at The Place in the Upper Green to inform residents about the status of the fire and to answer questions and concerns. USFS photo.
Jim Creek Fire
A great example of wildland fire for resource benefit
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
September 20, 2006

Wildfires aren’t necessarily all bad. In the early days, the philosophy of the public and the Forest Service was to put out all wildfires. Now, forest managers recognize that fire can be a valuable tool to help make the forest healthier.

The Jim Creek fire is a great example of a wildland fire for resource benefit. This fire was started by lightning in late June in the Jim Creek drainage within the Bridger Wilderness, approximately 24 miles north of Pinedale.

This fire was more of a challenge because it was in the Upper Green River area which has become more populated with homes built adjacent to forest. This meant forest officials had to manage not only the fire, but the public’s concerns about the fire’s movement near their homes, and smoke issues.

"There are multiple benefits for doing wildland fire use for resource benefits," said Mark Randall, with fire Operations at the Pinedale Ranger District. "A big benefit for us, and the folks who live up there, is fuels reduction. We’ve been so efficient and successful in putting fires out for the past 50-100 years that we’ve allowed dead fuels on the ground to build up. This fire has cleaned some of that up and now they already have a built in natural fuel break up there."

Fire managers carefully monitored the fire’s progress from day to day and developed a management plan that included trigger points which would activate more intensive fire control should the fire change direction and move toward the private residences. When the fire was very active, there were several 20-person crews working fire lines and setting up hose lays and sprinklers, several engines, and helicopters dropping buckets of water on hot spots to force the fire in the direction fire managers wanted it to burn.

During the course of the summer, fire officials held several public meetings to keep residents of the Upper Green informed on what the fire was doing. The Forest Service posted informational signs around Pinedale and at The Place restaurant and guest ranch in the Upper Green to let the public know the status of the fire. Information for this fire was also posted daily on the website with current maps, photos and announcements regarding the fire and road closures.

"We tried to be in there talking with people as much as we could, especially when the fire was really active," said Public Information Officer Nan Stinson. "People would call our information line with questions or concerns. Their main concern was that the fire was too close to their homes," she said. "The closest point on the fire is a little over a mile and a half from private land. Not structures, but the boundary of private land. The majority of the fire was further away than that," Stinson said. "It looked closer than it actually was."

"This is a tool we need to use," stressed Jim Creek Fire Incident Commander, Candi Eighme. "The forest ecosystem needs fire to help our natural resource. With bug kill and the devastation the forest is seeing with the drought, fire brings back a healthier situation."

Randall added, "Some of the benefits are to wildlife. Where the fire initially started there were benefits to bighorn sheep by opening up some site paths up high. There are also benefits to elk, deer and moose in the availability of forage in sage and willows. They still have hiding cover. Not all of that was taken away. People were concerned about that a lot. Big game animals are going to benefit for the availability of forage. There is also a little benefit for livestock that are up there for the same reasons," Randall said. "The fire will provide benefits for years to come."

"It was actually a very well-behaved fire," said Eighme. "We had people monitoring it throughout the duration."

By late September, the fire reached a little over 3,700 acres in size, with a mosaic pattern of burned and unburned areas. Fire officials expect the fire to smolder and flare up occasionally until "a season ending event", which means when snow finally puts it out.

Personnel and Crews that assisted with the Jim Creek fire:
Candi Eighme, Jim Creek Fire Incident Commander
Mark Randall, Operations, Pinedale Ranger District
Nan Stinson and Angie Crook, BTNF Public Information Officers
Kings Peak Fire Use Module, Ashley National Forest, Utah
New Hampshire #4 type 2, 20 person hand crew
Paulton Engine #8, South Dakota
Engine #662, South Dakota
PNF Engine #63, Prescott NF, Arizona

Related Links
  • Jim Creek Fire - interagency fire information website
  • Wildland Fire Use – Protecting Communities and Environments (NIFC)
  • Bridger-Teton National Forest

  • 2 Elk and Fire. Photo by Mark Randall.
    2 Elk and Fire
    Two bull elk spar near Pott Creek in the Jim Creek fire area. Photo courtesy Mark Randall.

    Jim Creek Valley. Photo by Mark Randall.
    Jim Creek Valley
    Mosiac burn pattern in the Jim Creek drainage. Photo courtesy Mark Randall.

    Laying sprinkler pipe. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Laying sprinkler pipe
    Crews lay sprinkler pipe on the Jim Creek fire. USFS photo.

    Jim Creek fire sprinklers. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Jim Creek fire sprinklers
    Sprinklers are used to wet down areas where fire managers don't want the fire to burn. USFS photo.

    Monitoring Sprinklers. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Monitoring Sprinklers
    Sprinklers help keep the fire where fire managers want it. USFS photo.

    Burn patterns. Photo by Mark Randall.
    Burn patterns
    Burn patterns of the Jim Creek fire. Photo courtesy Mark Randall.

    Smoke on Sept 5. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Smoke on Sept 5
    The fire put up a big column of smoke on September 5th. USFS photo.

    Torching tree. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Torching tree
    The fire was burning in older stands of spruce, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and subalpine fir, with whitebark pine in upper elevations. USFS photo.

    Smoke Inversion. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Smoke Inversion
    Inversions caused the smoke from the fire to be trapped in the valley, one of the concerns raised by residents in the area. USFS photo.

    Fire Progression Map. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Fire Progression Map
    Progression map for the Jim Creek fire. USFS graphic.

    Burning fuels. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Burning fuels
    Fires help reduce debris build-up that could lead to a catastrophic wildfire in the future. USFS photo.

    Snow on fire. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.
    Snow on fire
    The higher areas of the fire got a dusting of snow on September 15th. USFS photo.
    Pinedale Online > News > September 2006 > Jim Creek Fire

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