The East Slide Rock Ridge fire received the Wildfire Today award for the Worst Fire Name of 2008. We covered this northeast Nevada fire back in late August, and now a report has been released.
It started on August 9 and was managed as a Fire Use fire until August 23 when it was declared a suppression fire when Paul Summerfelt’s Type 1 incident management team assumed command.
Here are some excerpts from an article in the Elko Daily Free Press:
The report claimed there were a shortage of rangers and staff with Wildland Fire Use experience; the one ranger with training to administer the fire was handling three additional wildfires hundreds of miles away; analysis of current and predicted fire weather, behavior and fuels indexes was lacking; weather and fire potential predictions were not considered in the decision process to use the wildland fire strategy; and the fire’s management area was not defensible.
“Because of the lack of critical information, it is not clear from reviewing the documents if the East Slide Rock Ridge fire met guidelines for (Wildland Fire Use),” the report said.
Edward Monnig, Humboldt Toiyabe Forest supervisor, said the report identifies a number of management and process steps that could be improved in the future fire management.
“However, I would also add that few of those items identified in the report would have significantly affected the outcome of the East Slide Rock Ridge Fire,” he said.
Monnig said the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest will take a “hard look” at how it conducted 2008 operations, but will continue to use fire as a tool to manage the “ever increasing amount of fuels in our forests.”
The August blaze began in steep, rugged terrain. Summer winds quickly spread the fire beyond where it was originally anticipated to stay, eventually encompassing a 60,000 acre area — the equivalent of 94 square miles — although it left large pockets of unburned area within its perimeter. It escaped the forest and burned more than 2,000 acres of BLM land and 1,661 acres of private rangelands.
The Forest Service has secured about $160,000 to reseed these private areas and speed the natural recovery process.
Elko County Commissioner Sheri Eklund-Brown, who participated in a team that reviewed the fire, said there were lessons learned from the East Slide Rock Ridge Fire.
“The problem with this fire in particular was it was a new process being used by the Forest Service here and we had an interim district ranger and a new district ranger in charge who were not completely familiar with the process and the area,” she said. “Mistakes were, unfortunately, imminent in that kind of situation with the weather changes that occurred. … All agencies will work together to try and remedy those types of situations in the future.”
HERE is a link to a Google Earth map of the perimeter.