Caples Lake fire contained and in patrol status |

Caples Lake fire contained and in patrol status

Staff Reports

A prescribed burn that turned into a wildfire near Caples Lake has been contained and is in patrol status.

The 3,435-acre blaze has remained within its boundaries since Oct. 18, and even the extreme wind event that had the power shut off only saw three small spot fires, foresters said.

Forest Service specialists including foresters, archaeologists, hydrologists, soil scientists and aquatic biologists have determined that in some areas, the wildfire burned more intensely than was planned for in the original Caples Prescribed Fire, particularly along Caples Creek where some of the highest fuel concentrations had been accumulating for many decades, according to the Forest Service.

“The Caples Fire demonstrates the importance and urgency of re-establishing fire in the forest under moderate conditions so that future wildfires will be less intense,” said Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree. “Although the intensely burned areas of the Caples Fire are within the size range and severity of historic fires in the Sierras, visitors may be surprised at the number of trees that are now dead.”

Concerns that the hot fire would kill too many trees and other vegetation was why the burn was declared a wildfire on Oct. 10.

About 320 acres burned outside of the original project boundaries on the southern end of the fire, near the Silver Fork drainage.

The fire area will be closed to the public until spring due to the hazards of fire-weakened and dead trees. Some of these trees will fall in upcoming winter storms which will reduce the risk to visitors when the trail reopens. While some large trees in the burned area did not survive, most of the large trees in the lower part of the watershed known as legacy trees did survive. These trees were prepared for fire by volunteers and youth conservation crews who removed hazardous fuel from around them earlier this summer.