The Goat Rocks fire near Packwood saw moderate fire activity occur on Tuesday as the area experienced an increase in temperatures combined with lower humidity and terrain driven winds.
The fire has burned 3,489 acres so far and is 0% contained, but remains about 1.5 miles from Packwood.
Lewis County Emergency Management Deputy Director Ross McDowell told The Chronicle that the higher temperatures and drop in humidity created more smoldering behavior in the fire, which produces some smoke, but significant fire growth has still not been observed.
Helicopter crews responded by dropping water on the affected areas and firefighters resumed efforts on Forest Road 4612 to reduce fire fuel on Tuesday.
The firefighters have also completed over 70% of an identified control line around the fire and continue to monitor over 500 structures in and around Packwood.
Additionally, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputies are still patrolling near the Timberline area and so far have not observed or heard any reports of fire activity getting worse.
On Wednesday, firefighters continued applying hose lays on Forest Road 46 and also improved control lines using heavy equipment.
They also were continuing to consider a small tactical burn operation above Coal Creek along Forest Road 4610. Should the tactical burn occur it will improve the control line protecting Packwood, however smoke may be visible during burning operations, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Forest road and trail closure information can be found on a map online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd1060181.pdf, and fire restriction notices for the Gifford Pinchot Forest can be read online at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/giffordpinchot/alerts-notices.
Evacuation orders for all of Packwood and residents southwest of Butter Creek have been lifted but residents northeast of Butter Creek and those in Lower Timberline and Goat Rocks are still at evacuation level one, “be ready.” The Upper Timberline area remains at level two, “be set.”
Commissioner Lee Grose Writes Letter to Community
Following is a letter to the community provided by Lewis County Commissioner Lee Grose relating to the Goat Rocks Fire and response.
As Lewis County commissioner, I was privileged to be a part of several meetings with the U.S. Forest Service as we waited and worried together regarding the Goat Rocks Fire. And as one who has given my share of criticism to the Forest Service over the years, I feel compelled to express my sincere appreciation to Interim Cowlitz Valley District Ranger James Donahey and the various fire teams that have been serving us in East Lewis County.
From the lightning strike in early August up to and including the evacuation notices and continuing on a daily basis, the “task force” has kept me and the local residents well informed about the status of the fire. With the help of the Lewis County Department of Emergency Management (LCDEM) and Fire District #10 (Packwood), we have been able to keep abreast of virtually every move that was being made to control the fire and keep our residents and the community of Packwood safe. A special thanks goes out to The Salvation Army, the Red Cross and volunteers from various county government departments who gave up part or all of their weekend to man the evacuation center in Randle and to the White Pass School District for providing the space. And to those who offered up their homes and farms for temporary housing.
In my many conversations with District Ranger Donahey and Fire Liaison Doug Dahl, as well as during the daily updates, I was amazed at how well the various operations and organizations worked together. The coordination of the activities to be performed went smoother than could have been imagined. This, I felt, was due in large part to the ability of all involved to be clearly informed. I felt comfortable returning home Saturday, knowing that the outcome was in the best of hands. The last public meeting that was held was attended by over 150 people, and the information presented was clear, concise and informative.
My heartfelt thanks goes out to all of those who have been a part of this operation, and to the residents of Packwood who left their homes without question when asked to evacuate.
I’ll end with a final plug for Lewis County Alert, the telephone notification system adopted by the county. If you have not registered, please do so. This system automatically notifies you if there is a pending event (fire, flood or whatever) in your specific area. You can sign up by clicking on the Lewis County Alert icon at the bottom of the county website (www.lewiscountywa.gov) or by calling LCDEM at 360-740-1151. Please do so now!
A special thanks to all. Lewis County truly is a great place to live.