Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yosemite Lightning Fires – Update #4 and #5

National Park Service -U.S. Department of the Interior

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Yosemite Lightning Fires Update #5

Hi folks. Yosemite is experiencing more thunderstorms and consequently
more fire starts. Two new fires have been located. Due to the amount of
precipitation, additional "sleepers" (fires) may be found as the atmosphere
warms-up. The weather folks are projecting this kind of thunderstorm
pattern to continue through the weekend.

In this update, we are sending a couple of new maps - one is the lightning
map, identifying broad areas of where strikes occurred; and the other is a
Google Earth geographical look at the location of the fires.

Yosemite Lightning Fires Update #4 - On the afternoon of May 18, 2009 Yosemite National Park experienced an afternoon thunderstorm, a common occurrence for the Sierra Nevada Range during the summer. It is relatively uncommon for May, and according to National Weather Service this monsoonal storm was more typical for August. It resulted in many down strikes in Yosemite and three confirmed fires. It was accompanied by measurable precipitation at higher elevations. Yosemite Valley received approximately 1/3 of an inch of rain. There is a possibility of continuing thunderstorms for the rest of the week particularly in the afternoon hours, which may result in other fires.

Suppression Zone:

West (3740’24.31” 1193356.89”) - Please note the Lat/long change. This lightning caused fire is in Mariposa County near the park boundary and north/west of the community of Yosemite West. It was necessary for crews to rappel into this fire due to steepness of the terrain. This fire is out. It was smoldering in pine needles and some down logs and was put out due to significant threats to the community of Yosemite West. It will be patrolled by air.

Cottonwood (3754’13.68” 11947’41.64”) – As of 7 PM, May 22, this fire was declared 100 % contained, and 50% controlled. Ninety-six acres have burned. This lightning caused fire is in Tuolumne County and is burning within the 1996 Ackerson fire perimeter. It is 2.5 miles east of the Mather Ranger Station and near Cottonwood Meadow. It was actively burning in whitethorn and dead and down timber. Eighty firefighters, two Type 2 Helicopters and three Hot Shot teams (Groveland from the Stanislaus NF, Sierra NF Hotshots, and the Arrowhead HS) are committed to this fire. Mop will continue today and full control is expected tonight at 7 PM. Smoke impacts have been minimal.

Wilderness Zone:

Mono (3740’ 24.24” 1194519.45”)Please note the change in Lat/Long. This lightning caused fire is located in Mariposa County, within the Illilouette Basin and Yosemite’s wilderness. This fire continues to grow slowly as expected, and approximately 6 acres have burned in brush, and dead and down logs within the 2004 Meadow Fire perimeter. This area has a considerable history of natural wildfire that has been managed for restoration of forest systems. A three to four person fire crew will continue to monitor this fire daily. Minimal smoke is visible in some places along the Glacier Point road. This fire has low to moderate potential for spread.

The protection of human life and property is the top priority for Yosemite’s fire management staff, as well as the preservation of natural and cultural resources, and the preservation and restoration of fire-dependent ecosystems. Each fire is managed individually to achieve one or more objectives in the safest, most efficient and cost-effective way possible. In order to achieve this, strategies employed may include full suppression, containment line building, use of natural barriers, monitoring, and other management techniques or combination of techniques.

Park staff will monitor smoke on a consistent basis. However, smoky conditions may exist within the park.

Residents and visitors are advised to take precautions to minimize smoke impacts to health. People with respiratory problems should use caution when exerting themselves in smoky areas.

Additional Information:
The park website, www.nps.gov/yose/fire, has information about fire activity and smoke effects in Yosemite. To reach the Fire Information and Education Office please call 209/372-0480 or email us at: yose_fire_information@nps.gov.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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