By Marcy Stamper
Although the Diamond Creek Fire has seen very little activity in recent weeks, it is still smoldering in the interior, meaning that most trail closures remain in effect.
Fire managers have been able to lift some road closures, allowing access to more backcountry sites, according to Shannon O’Brien, information assistant with the Methow Valley Ranger District.
The closure on the Eightmile Road has been reduced so that people can now get to the Copper Glance trailhead. Upper Falls Creek Road is also open, allowing access to the Falls Creek and Eightmile Ridge trails.
The closure in Lost River has been moved to the wilderness boundary, running from Sunrise Peak in the east to Eureka Creek in the west. This reopens the lower 2 to 3 miles of the Monument Creek Trail.
The closure remains in effect on the road to the Yellowjacket Sno-Park, primarily because of large log decks that haven’t been removed, said O’Brien. People can walk on the Yellowjacket Road, she said.
There has been no significant growth of the fire and none is expected, although the fire continues to creep around within the existing perimeter. “It will keep chewing away at fuels it hasn’t gotten to,” said O’Brien.
Although closures are frustrating for hikers and hunters, the ranger district has safety concerns because many tree stumps and roots are still burning — even though they don’t appear to be, said O’Brien. That means people could twist an ankle or be burned by hot coals underground.
Trees that appear healthy may have been weakened because their roots have burned, putting them at risk of toppling over. Boulders in burned areas can roll without warning, said O’Brien. Rain and snow will cause unstable trees to fall and help the area settle, she said.
Overall, trail closures for the affected parts of the Pasayten are expected to remain in effect for some time.
The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment is still underway. In the BAER assessment, emergency management officials, U.S. Forest Service hydrologists and soil scientists evaluate the potential for future flooding or debris flows on public lands affected by the fire.
The Diamond Creek Fire has burned 128,272 acres — approximately 97,140 acres in the U.S. and 31,132 acres in Canada. It was considered 85 percent contained as of Tuesday (Oct. 10).
The fire was reported on July 23 by a hiker near the Diamond Creek Trail. An initial attack by eight smokejumpers and a 20-person crew was unable to contain the fire, which has been determined to be human caused.