Tuesday, May 18, 2021
May 18, 2021

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Crews continue to battle Big Hollow Fire in Gifford Pinchot National Forest

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor, and
, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Among fire operations this week, crews worked to limit the Big Hollow Fire from spreading to the west and prepped roads to burn a control line at the fire’s southern edge in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

The wildfire, which is located about 15 miles northwest of Carson and 7 miles southeast of Cougar, was 10 percent contained and had grown to 22,153 acres as of Tuesday night, according to the latest estimate from the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire’s growth of about 1,340 acres since Tuesday morning can be attributed to burnout in areas previously untouched that have since been scorched, connecting parts of its uneven parameter, said Fire Operations Chief Aaron Rowe.

Smoke, fog and a slight chance of rain were in the forecast Tuesday, with winds less than 10 mph, the Forest Service said.

Fire operations officials said during a community briefing Tuesday evening that the rain firefighters were hoping for did not materialize. A low-pressure system headed west from the coast retreated east and did not reach the wildfire, said Meteorologist Bob Tobin.

There is a chance of precipitation in the area on Thursday and Friday, Tobin said.

Crews were scheduled to continue setting backfires along roads 57 and 58 in the west, and monitor and create fire lines to limit spread south of Canyon Creek. They were also set to monitor and clear fuels in the Wind River drainage and burn a control line east of Road 64 and north of Road 201 to limit fire spread east of the Wind River Highway.

The cabins at Government Mineral Springs remain under a Level 3 “Go” evacuation order. Crews installed sprinklers in the area to try to protect structures. They have been clearing vegetation on Trapper Creek Trail to prep it as a possible containment line in the southeast.

Areas north and west of the fire remain under a Level 1 “Get ready” evacuation order, including Yale, Cougar, Northwoods and portions of the towns of Amboy and Yacolt. Level 2 “Get set” evacuation orders in areas northwest of the fire were downgraded to Level 1 over the weekend.

Closures in the southwest portion of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest remain in effect and include most developed campgrounds, dispersed camping, and most forest roads and trails. The Washington Department of Natural Resources has issued closures for the Siouxon Block and Merrill Lake Natural Conservation Area. The Pacific Crest Trail is open.

In general, the fire is smoldering and creeping in various directions due to ground fuels, officials said. It is branching off in paths due to the fuels, and is temporarily stalling in spots with green vegetation. A similar pattern of growth is expected Wednesday.

Columbian Breaking News Reporter