As expected, with strong gusty winds yesterday, the Castle Fire became more active moving it into pockets of unburned piñon-juniper and mixed conifer. The fire slowed once reaching confinement lines. Winds were blowing from the southwest pushing smoke eastward. The hot, dry and windy pattern will continue through the weekend.
As hot and dry weather lingers, the Castle Fire is moving through areas of unburned islands of dead and down vegetation that has accumulated over the years. The Castle Fire has been burning with mostly low to moderate fire intensity but holding well within confinement lines. This type of fire behavior will result in improving forest health and wildlife habitat in that area while providing a barrier for future wildfires.
Operations have been successful in allowing the lightning caused Castle Fire to reduce accumulations of dead and down forest vegetation. This will contribute to a regeneration and renewal of this area, creating new habitat for wildlife while forming a buffer for larger fires that may occur in the future.
Aerial reconnaissance of the Castle Fire, late yesterday, showed the fire has spread across most of the 19,368 acres of the pre-determined planned area, exhibiting low to moderate fire behavior. Smoke will be visible from the Castle Fire as it continues to burn interior pockets of dead and down trees, along with debris from previous fires.
On Thursday, the Type 3 Team Incident Management Team with IC Brandon Allen will transition command of the Castle Fire to a smaller Type 4 Incident Management organization that will continue to oversee and monitor the Castle Fire.
Smoke will continue to be seen from the Castle Fire in the days ahead as weather conditions remain dry and warm. These conditions have proved favorable to allow the Castle Fire to spread gently and moderately southward into Dugway and Lookout Canyon, while consuming acres of dead and down vegetation such as pine needles, dry brush and grass. Interior pockets of dead fuel and overgrowth will continue to smolder until a wetting rain event occurs.
The visible increase in smoke from the Castle Fire is due to the warmer and drier trend in weather. Yesterday, the Castle Fire continued to spread into Lookout Canyon generating smoke both from its movement south to the confinement lines and from interior pockets of dead and down vegetation fanned by light winds. These pockets of dead and down fuel will continue smoldering for several weeks or until a significant amount of wetting rain occurs on the fire area.
Smoke was visible yesterday over the Castle Fire as it grew an additional 662 acres while it established itself in unburned fuel east of Forest Road 226 in the Lookout Canyon area. Following four days in a row of no growth, the combination of increased daytime temperatures, light winds, no precipitation and available fuels were enough to encourage additional spread. Aerial ignitions and firing operations were also successfully conducted to help check and direct the fire's movement through the canyon.
The Castle Fire's acreage held at 16,538 today due to more consistent showers over the fire area. While precipitation does have a direct effect on fire behavior, it can be very effective in moderating or temporarily halting the fire's spread. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the fire is over. Warmer, drier days, such as those predicted in the long-term forecast can provide just enough heat to keep the fire moving through the fuels that are still available in the unburned areas.
The Castle Fire continues its gradual spread westward towards Lookout Canyon. Low to moderate fire behavior along almost four miles of the fire's active front has resulted in an additional 1,538 acres. To date, the fire has covered 16,538 acres within the pre-identified planning area of 19,632 acres. This fire's persistence can be attributed to favorable conditions including intermittent spells of dry weather over the western edge of the planning area, available fuels and the area's unique topography, all being key factors that have contributed to the fire's spread.
The Castle Fire made another push westward on Monday, resulting in a 3,100-acre gain. The fire's path has covered 15,000 acres within the pre-identified planning area of 19,632 acres. Favorable conditions including dry weather over the western edge of the planning area, available fuels and topography have contributed to the fire's spread.