This weekend we received reports from Rock Harbor residents that a helicopter equipped with a suspended apparatus (a “hanging basket”) was flying back and forth between Lake Champlain and the Split Rock Wild Forest, ostensibly shuttling water from the lake and dropping it on a fire. Another Rock Harbor resident had spotted a fire near Snake Den Harbor on Thursday while boating. He reported it to the Coast Guard and was informed that a report had already been files and Forest Rangers had been dispatched.
Unable to learn anything further I reached out on Saturday via social media. Sun Community News reporter Pete DeMola (@pmdemola) connected me with Forest Ranger Scott van Laer (@ScottvanLaer) who shed some light on the Split Rock Wild Forest ground fire.
@virtualDavis ground fire in deep organic layer take a long time before declared out. We use term contained when surrounded by a fireline.
— ADK Ranger (@ScottvanLaer) August 8, 2015
Good news. But I decided to push a little further. Forest Ranger Scott van Laer referred me to David Winchell (DEC Public Outreach, Region 5) for additional information.
Lightning Caused 1.5 Acre Ground Fire
I contacted David Winchell with a list of questions about the Split Rock Wild Forest ground fire:
- What sort of fire?
- How started?
- Is it contained?
- Is it extinguished?
- Any damage to private property?
- Notable damage to wilderness property?
- What can we do to assist?
Yesterday I received the following detailed response from David Winchell.
The 1.5 acre ground fire in the Split Rock Wild Forest was started by a lightning strike. It was 100% contained on Saturday (8/8) and is now in patrol status. It will be checked for a few days to make sure there is no smoke, smoldering or flare-ups. If none of these are observed over a period of days it will be declared extinguished. It is likely if we get the rains that are forecast for tonight and tomorrow it will be declared out tomorrow. There was no damage to private property and little damage to the environment. The fire was not real hot, it did not burn into the soil. Nature recovers quickly from these type fires and some plants flourish under these conditions. All the trails in the area of the fire are reopened. The only thing the public can do is immediately report any smoke or flames they spot in the burnt area. (Source: David Winchell, Public Outreach, Region 5, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)
Rain overnight and today have likely helped extinguish the fire. Gratitude is due the many responders who helped control the fire and protect the Split Rock Wild Forest from greater damage.