This fire was started just a few days ago (Aug 6), in mountains east of obscure Denio Junction in Nevada — the Trout Creek Mountains. It quickly spread north into Oregon, southward and eastward.  Now it is over 270,000 acres, and a major source of interstate smoke. These are dry, mostly sagebrush and grass covered mountains used by wildlife and cattle.  Update August 14, 2012. It is now 418,235  432,000 acres inside the fire perimeter with nearly equal amounts in Oregon and Nevada. It is 48% contained.

This is a BLM-fought fire with almost 600 people now working it. Range fires don’t attract the attention that forest fires do, but because of their increasing frequency and presence of non-native cheatgrass often fueling them, the long term ecological damage to wildlife, and livestock too, can be great.

Afterwards on fires like this, ranchers over want special deals allowing them to put livestock back on the burned range well before it has regenerated property (2-3 years).  The result is an even greater long term impact and diminishment of bio-productivity.  With native vegetation and well managed grazing, range fires can be of great benefit, but folks can’t count on good management over political expediency.

InciWeb on the Holloway Fire. Fire map updated to Aug. 13, 2012

InciWeb news release on the Holloway Fire. Firefighters Working Hard in Tough Conditions.
Incident: Holloway Wildfire
Released: 7 pm, Aug. 13, 2012

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

12 Responses to The huge Holloway range fire on the Nevada-Oregon border (updated)

  1. avatar don smith says:

    Ralph,

    I drove through Denio Junction (not a town – but a commercial stop: gas, beer, some food, etc) on the 6th and the billowing smoke east of Denio was clearly visible. The smoke was visible in Oregon before reaching the Oregon/Nevada border. Over 2.5 days I made my way to Denver by way of Utah/Wyoming, seeing smoke all the way – due no doubt to multiple fires.

  2. avatar Salle says:

    Wow, About an hour before sunset, I saw a literal wall of smoke roll over the divide. It is so dense that it blocked out the sun and the entire sunset. I started looking online to see if there was, perhaps, some new fire in Idaho but found no evidence of any within over a hundred miles. So I started looking for maps that might show where this cloud came from. I found this map that shows where it’s from (I think this might be the web site Ralph was talking about yesterday).

    It starting to feel like I’ve become an involuntary chain smoker, sore throat and all… and it was already so smokey, for the last week, that the mountains had become silhouettes before this wall of smoke arrived. Yikes, no meteor shower viewing tonight.

    http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/?sat=1

  3. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Thanks for dispatching all the smoke I am breathing here in Cody Wyoming. I assume that’s your smoke wafting in , since we haven’t any wildfires of our own . I can only see about 3-4 blocks.

    Sure messed up my stargazing last weekend…hardly any Perseids vsible thru the smaze. My time exposures of the night sky show it to be a dull fuzzy brown in the moonlight, not a transparent blue.

    Rain. Need rain. Soon . Very soon.

    • avatar Salle says:

      Cody Coyote,

      I was talking to some neighbors this morning and we noted that the ash that fell from that nasty plume was much like a light snowfall.

      You can have all the smoke we can blow over there but you’re far from the nastiest part of the errant plume we’ve got over on this side of the Park.

      Here’s an interactive map that shows the plumes in our end of the continent…

      http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/?sat=1

      If it didn’t save the preferences I had going on, go to the side panel and follow the preference set that I had…

      options to select; temp, then scroll down to satellite options and select (IR4), then fire, then select the options from the drop down under that. You will probably have to zoom out to the continent view to see where it’s all coming from – that’s in the upper left corner of the screen. After that, you’re on your own but it’s near real time.

      You will see that over here along the Madison, it’s pretty bad but there are a couple areas that are actually worse. And if you look at the continental view, you’ll see that Saskatchewan/ Manitoba are pretty much swamped along their mutual border and northward. It’s still going to be a while before this clears up, unless we get a big swath or rain all over the northwest. My firefighter neighbor is days overdue to return but he said he might be fighting fires until some time in October if this keeps up. I just want some fresh air at this point… it’s been a couple weeks.

  4. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    – here is a very recent satellite image ( August 13, yesterday ) from NASA showing the wildfires from the Oregon-California coast all the way to Idaho. Ten large named fires

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=78832&src=eoa-iotd

  5. avatar Nancy says:

    Socked in most of the day here (southwest Montans) from the smoke. Can’t even see the hills around me.

    Its not even close to nightfall but it looks like nightfall’s just minutes away because of the smoke. There’s also a strange, yellow tinge to the smoke filled skies and the landscape.

    Closed all my windows. Best way to describe what it feels like right now, looking out at that smoke? “Fishbowl”

    • avatar Salle says:

      Yes, “fishbowl” indeed. Good description.

      I closed all my windows yesterday when I saw the “wall” coming over the ridge. Ashes on my vehicle this morning, woke up at 2am with a bad headache – I went outside to see if I could see anything, only a couple 1st magnitude stars. At 5am I could see the crescent moon rising but it was about as orange as I have ever seen it through a haze, and Venus looked dwarfed by the haze too. Not enjoying the lack of oxygen, the birds are acting strange too. I haven’t seen the near-by hills and peaks since yesterday when that plume sailed in. I had to be outside for a while today and my eyes are now oozing stuff and I’m feeling congested and exhausted. I feel for all those folks out there in the burns fighting them… and all the wildlife as well. Wonder how long this will last.

      Like Cody said, we need rain, lots of it and soon.

      • avatar Nancy says:

        Salle – spent over 6 hours outside in this today, staining a deck, work related so couldn’t afford to avoid the exposure.

        Cody’s right – we need rain, lots of it, and soon.

        • avatar Salle says:

          Nancy,

          Last week, can’t remember just how any days ago now, but it rained real hard a couple times all on the same day and cleared the skies for a short spell… but just a few hours later, the smoke returned like a bad stain that just won’t come out in the wash. It’s been here ever since then, whenever that was.

          • avatar Nancy says:

            Rained last Friday night here Salle. A nice relief from weeks of no rain.

            The storm rumbled around the mountains behind me (lots of thunder and lightning strikes) for what seemed like hours and it dropped quite a bit of moisture but a day later, the ground was dry as a bone.

            Given up on watering my lawn, veggie and flower gardens, can’t afford to overtax my 15 year old water pump.

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        As I earlier predicted, the “Mustang complex” of forest fires now burning hot on top of the Salmon River Mountains west of North Fork, Idaho, has become the major contributor of smoke to the Yellowstone Park/West Yellowstone area. I predicted this at 3000 acres. Now it is approaching 40,000.

        • avatar Salle says:

          When my neighbor was home last we talked about that fire (I think there was a different name for the one small fire that was going then, as a fire progresses or merges with another the name often changes), it was pretty small then and he didn’t think it would be much but we agreed there was a possibility that it could spread. I think that the constant hot, dry winds that have been prevalent over the majority of the summer have been a major contributor to this expanded fire size trend as well as to the number of fires due to the massive beetle infestation throughout the west. He told me that when he was at the Pony fire, he was on the ground and there were so many of those icky – my term – silkworms, as he called them, that they covered anyone out there. It sounded truly nasty, he said it was like walking through massive spider webs and he could see them just oozing and dangling from the snags.

          I recall the last time I was in central Idaho, I was horrified by the vast affect the beetles had on the Frank Church Wilderness and surrounding areas. When I worked out there in the 1990s, it was such a wonderful, lush forest… Made me sad to see that it was so devastated and that this inevitable fire scenario was bound to come sooner or later.

          AS I said above, my friend had claimed he’d be back by now but I think he’s been out on fires that we hadn’t known about over a week ago. Wonder what stories I’ll hear about when the summer is over, might have to wait until the snow comes for that though.

          When I went to Colorado a couple years ago, I was surprised to see how much beetle kill had impacted the wilds of the western mountains of that area too. Looks like a lot of that has burned since. Perhaps the fact that there are so many fires in this one season alone will have an impact on the beetles and we may have a turn around of sorts in a reduction of their numbers. The problem is that much of the alpine vegetation will likely be replaced by other vegetation like Ponderosa pine instead of fir etc. due to a warming climate. This year looks like there will be far more of that than we have seen before.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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