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News / Clark County News

Gifford Pinchot’s Snagtooth Fire grows

About 40 lightning-caused blazes burn in national forest

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: August 29, 2023, 7:55pm
3 Photos
An aerial view of multiple fires burning in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Fire near Snagtooth Mountain is leading to road and trail closures in the center of the forest. (Photo contributed by the U.S.
An aerial view of multiple fires burning in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Fire near Snagtooth Mountain is leading to road and trail closures in the center of the forest. (Photo contributed by the U.S. Forest Service) Photo Gallery

The U.S. Forest Service reported Monday evening that the more than 40 fires burning in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest now cover about 700 acres.

A storm late last week shot about 1,500 lightning strikes throughout the region, igniting multiple fires in the forest that burned through the weekend.

The Snagtooth Fire, a conflagration of five fires, continues to burn at the center of the Gifford Pinchot near Forest Road 9341 northwest of the Lewis River, leading to road and trail closures nearby. It is the largest burning in the Gifford Pinchot’s dozens of fires.

Closures include: Forest Roads 9300 and 9341, Boundary Trail #1 from Elk Pass to Summit Prairie, Summit Prairie #2, Craggy Peak #3, Snagtooth #4, Quartz #5, Stabler Camp #17, Wright Meadows #80, Basin Camp #3A, Quartz #5B and #5C, and Snyder Pasture #80A.

Firefighting crews have worked to contain the blazes using air and ground support, and more crews are expected to arrive if burns worsen. An incident management team from the Rocky Mountain Complex will take over command today. In some areas, fires are beginning to creep past containment lines and into steeper terrain, posing challenges for ground crews.

“We’ve certainly seen fire growth,” said Gala Miller, Forest Service public affairs officer.

However, it’s tricky for officials to provide an exact count of fires within the Gifford Pinchot, she said. The agency continues to receive reports of new fires; cloud cover is hindering aerial mapping, and suppression crews have contained some blazes while others merge.

No evacuations are in place.

On Monday, rain and cool air slowed fire growth, though forecasters say abnormally dry conditions will persist across Western Washington and Oregon.

Smaller fires in the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District, the northernmost portion of the Gifford Pinchot, are not staffed as crews tackle higher-priority areas near communities, such as the Grassy Mountain, South Fork and Carlton Ridge fires. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest spans more than 1.3 million acres, so the fires are burning a fraction of the forestland.

Upcoming Labor Day events, such as Packwood’s biannual four-day flea market, can make potential evacuations more complex if fires worsen, Miller said.

For current fire updates and restrictions, visit www.fs.usda.gov/detail/giffordpinchot/alerts-notices. The Forest Service’s fire information phone line is 360-497-1111.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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