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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 14:27:21 08/23/16

I was surprised to see the view north to the Buffalo Fire from the web cam on Mt. Washburn totally occluded by smoke. I've been watching that cam at least once daily for the past couple weeks.

While checking the Old Faithful cam, I noticed a substantial wall of smoke to the distant north. I'm guessing that is being generated by the Maple fire, which is said to be within 3 miles of Madison Junction. Some of us have hiked extensively in this area (Purple Mountain, the ridge north of the river between Madison Junction and Seven Mile Bridge, and the sprawling open land north and west of Seven Mile Bridge around Cougar Creek). The majority of this terrain burned in 1988. There is a fair amount of new growth, but it doe not approach what one would term a "mature forest". In the early days of this year's fires, YCR was saying there would be research value in seeing fire behavior in the areas burned in 88, which are characterized by a combination of dead and down logs, new growth, and open grass lands. I fear the Maple Fire in particular is developing into something approaching "fire storm" proportions.

The Berry Fire, just south of Yellowstone crossed the road, forcing a closure. That is likely temporary, until crews can clear any debris from the road and secure any dangers along the roadside.

Be aware that the photos in the linked report are OLD. They date back to August 15, yet are still fairly dramatic. I cannot imagine what the Maple Fire must look like today.

It is fortuitous that we are seeing this activity in late August. In 1988, we were seeing it in mid to late July, which gave it an extra month to explode into the eventual 670,000 acres burned. Hopefully, we will see an early season snowstorm come through and dampen down the activity. In 1988, that happened on September 11, if my memory serves me right. Over the years, there have been major snow events on Labor Day Weekend a time or two.

The timing of this mayhem is likely to have a negative bearing on the centennial celebrations. I notice we are not seeing as much press release activity regarding the fires as we would normally see. I'm betting the folks that do media relations are plenty busy on other tasks.


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