PE ELL - A fire broke out on Weyerhaeuser property in the Fork Peak hills outside of Pe Ell last Thursday. The cause of the fire is still undetermined, but is, "Looking more like it was a human caused fire," said Information Officer Nick Droquist. As of Monday, the fire covered 117 acres and was 50 percent contained.
"This fire was one of the better wildfires of the year, in the sense that it was nowhere near any residences," said Janet Pierce, from the Department of Natural Resources.
Droquist also commented on how different this fire was compared to the fires he had dealt with on the east side of Washington. Droquist noted that the fire was unique because the material burning here differed from the east. The east fires were burning fields of dry grass, and would get hot and burn fast where apparently on the west side, there is a layer of material underneath the initial burn called a "duff" layer. The duff layer is wet and compact, and smolders long after any visible fire has come through, and this creates challenges of it's own.
The DNR, the lead agency fighting the forest fire, along with Fire District #3 of Pacific County, and Fire District #11, out of Lewis County was able to contain the area with a firebreak. DNR utilized a ditch dug along the perimeter of the fire, the most effective and common way to contain a forest fire of this nature. There were 14 different hand crews executing the firebreak using everything from bulldozers to shovels. DNR has also deployed bucket drops over the fire with helicopters and a fixed wing airplane, that scooped water out of the Columbia River. Categorized as a "type III" fire, the DNR utilized local resources from Pacific and Lewis Counties.
When compared to what could be considered the worst wildfire this year and possibly in Washington history to date, the Carlton Complex fire, which clocked in at over 250,000 acres, the Fork Peak fire was almost a cakewalk.