News

Carbon Copy fire close to being contained

By Shawn Skager

The Courier-Herald

Fire crews working to contain the Carbon Copy fire burning eight miles southeast of Carbonado made significant headway over the weekend, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

According to fire officials at the base camp in Buckley, the approximately 220-acre fire was 60 percent contained by Monday.

More than 400 firefighters and three helicopters were working the fire over the weekend.

Evidence of the fire was prevalent over the weekend as warmer temperatures and lower humidity, coupled with line burnout operations, raised a plume of smoke visible for miles in all directions.

According to Dale Warriner the DNR incident team information officer assigned to the Carbon Copy Complex, line burnout operations - which create firebreaks by denying the blaze possible fuel around the edges of the fire - have been successful.

“We had a good day yesterday (Sunday),” Warriner said. “We were successful burning out and eliminated fuel for the fire.”

With a cooler weather pattern with showers expected to sweep into the area, Warriner said crews were working diligently to complete line burnout operations.

“We're hoping for more line burnout before the marine cold front passes by and wets that out,” he said.

According to the DNR officials, they expect to continue making progress, possibly downgrading the danger by the end of the week, but will have a better idea after the weather changes.

“The weather will take the edge off any anxiety that it (the fire) will move anywhere,” Warriner said. “Hopefully we'll be able to get our burnout done in time before the weather gets here.”

The fire is burning in heavy timber in steep difficult terrain adjacent to the north side of the Carbon River near Old Baldy Mountain and primarily on private land, away from Mount Rainier National Park.

Fire crews, assisted by helicopters, were able to create a black line fire edge on the west side of the fire. Efforts on the south end of fire have been more successful. Crews from that side of the fire moved to the west side early last week.

Extremely difficult terrain with limited access is making progress slow and safety of firefighters a primary concern.

One firefighter was evacuated from the fire with heat exhaustion Thursday, but reported back to duty later that evening. One other non-life threatening injury was reported earlier.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation; however, officials believe it was man made.

Road closures will remain in effect on Carbon River Road at the junction of SR 165 until further notice.

Last week the Carbon Copy fire was named a complex, which means that the IMT is also providing oversight on the Bear Gulch II fire north of Shelton which has burned 750 acres near Lake Cushman.

As the Carbon Copy fire is contained, crews from the Washington State Incident Management Team (IMT), a multi-agency group who set up camp last week at the Buckley Armory, will be redeployed to one of the more than 80 fires burning in the Western United States. The IMT is an “all-risk” team with specific experience and expertise in managing large-scale natural disasters from wildfires to hurricane relief. The Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Forest Service will most likely handle mop up efforts for the Carbon Copy fire.

Shawn Skager can be reached at sskager@courierherald.com.

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