2017 Wildfire Outlook

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With Wildfire Season approaching, we should have fewer fires this year compared to last year.

Last year’s Lava Mountain fire burned more than 14,000 acres. This year shouldn’t have fires that size.

“Most current long range outlook suggests we’ll have a below normal fire season this year, which doesn’t mean we won’t have any fires, but we shouldn’t see the amount of activity we had last year,” said Rick Metzger, a Wind River Forest District Ranger.

With lots of snow still on the mountain, you may think the extra moisture means less flammable conditions.

But it’s the big, still standing dead trees that are already dry and pose a fire threat.

“Some of that larger fuel is super dry out there, so that little camp fire can crawl out, get into that larger fuel and then it will crawl around, even though the grass is green right now, and the shrubs are, we have a lot of dead stuff in the forest, it can start spreading that way,” said Carl Jungck, the Shoshone National Forest Fire Information Officer.

If a small fire starts, Metzger says they will try to let it burn, because fire is good for the ecosystem. “When we can we try to allow fire to play its natural role across the landscape, but before we make that kind of a decision you got to look at where’s it at what’s down wind from it, do we have what we call value at risk which is private property and structures,” he said.

Still, it’s important you know to always be cautious with campfires, as it doesn’t take very long for the forest to dry out during the summer.
“We can dry out surprisingly quick, between our temperature, our low humidity and our wind, it doesn’t take much, say if we don’t get much rain in the month of June July towards the end of July could be very receptive so just because we had a good snow-pack doesn’t mean we’re not going to have any fires,” he said.

Last year’s Lava Mountain fire required hundreds of firefighters to control, because it threatened multiple homes and structures.
Metzger also said they’re just starting to check how the burned areas from last year are recuperating, as there’s been so much snow, they haven’t been able to see any new plants growing just yet.