Anyone who is interested in details on the fire would do well to check in on the daily briefing videos provided by the operation section chief. They can be found here.
I’ve been watching them, along with keeping an eye on the fire’s spread as tracked by the VIIRS satellite, which measures reflected heat. This map i put together shows that VIIRS data, the calfire polygon for the fire boundaries, current wind direction and speed, and a point for Big Falls parking lot to quickly orient. I drew a polygon around the area that has burned in the last 24 hours, almost all of it in the wilderness. It’s an area of roughly eight square miles, covers the San Bernardino Peak trail from the trailhead to the Washington Monument, and is pretty likely to spread across the forsee creek trail into the Lake Fire burn scar and all the way down to Hwy 38.
It’s very telling that in all the videos describing the firefighting efforts, not a single word is spoken about any effort to protect the wilderness. Today’s installment included descriptions of efforts to keep the fire from moving east of the ridge that drops from Wilshire Peak to Forest Falls. That’s not to protect the wilderness; it’s to protect Forest Falls from the catastrophic slides that would result from the denuding of that already totally unstable slope.
I understand that people are concerned about people’s property in the mountain communities. Maybe at least the fire won’t get so hot that it sterilizes a lot of the soil, but anyone who’s been up the San Bernardino Peak trail and paid attention knows that there’s an insane amount of fuel in the forest, with blow-down stacked more than 20 feet high in some places.
The wilderness is in a lot of trouble. I hope we learn something from this, but it sure doesn’t look like we’re gonna. Right now, i’m kind of numb. As inevitable as this was, it’s still really sad.