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News / Northwest

Forest Service opens areas around Packwood Lake closed by Goat Rocks Fire

By Katie Fairbanks, The Daily News
Published: February 21, 2023, 7:46am

LONGVIEW — The U.S. Forest Service last week reopened some areas near Packwood Lake closed last year because of the Goat Rocks Fire.

The fire burned about 6,196 acres northeast of Packwood in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Visitors to newly reopened areas should be aware of falling trees and rolling debris, the Forest Service advised.

Several forest roads and trails within the burn area remain closed because of weak trees, unstable slopes, active burning and rolling debris. A map and list of the closures is available at https://bit.ly/3IE4cSF.

Forest officials urged the public to observe temporary fire closures for public and firefighter safety. Within burn areas, falling trees can block roads and potentially hit vehicles. Trees and rocks are more likely to fall during heavy rain and wind events.

The Goat Rocks Fire, likely caused by lightning, was first found on Aug. 9 and saw minimal growth until early September, according to the Forest Service. The blaze caused heavy smoke over Packwood into mid-October.

A smoke column was observed Dec. 7 near Lava Creek, signaling that the fire is still burning, possibly under heavy ground matter or within large trees or root systems.

The Goat Rocks Fire is currently 66% contained, with the remaining fire mostly within the difficult-to-access Goat Rocks Wilderness, according to the Forest Service. Crews primarily focused on suppressing the fire near the Packwood community.

Residual fire may re-emerge this summer when warm dry conditions return, and if this happens, smoke may be visible from Packwood and U.S. Highway 12, according to the Forest Service. Additional resources will be assigned to the fire as needed for suppression and repairs.