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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lightning-Caused Yale Fire Burning Near Sawtell Peak

Idaho Falls, ID – Lightning passed through portions of eastern Idaho Wednesday evening, igniting at least one wildland fire.  The Yale Fire was located by fire crews in the early morning hours of June 30.  It is about one mile southwest of Sawtell Peak at the head of Hell Roaring Canyon.  The fire is burning in a small group of whitebark pine and subalpine fir trees. 
Due to the remote location of the fire, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest will allow the fire to play its natural role in the ecosystem.  Whitebark pine has historically been the dominant tree species at such high elevations.  Decades of aggressive fire suppression have allowed other species such as lodgepole and subalpine pine to encroach upon and compete for nutrients with the whitebark pine.  Naturally-occurring fires can increase the health of the forest.
Fire managers consider a number of factors when choosing to manage a fire rather than fully suppress it.  With cooler, moist weather predicted for the weekend, minimal growth is expected on the Yale Fire.  The relatively moist conditions still present in the higher elevations will also limit fire activity.  Additionally, one of the objectives of the managing the fire is to limit the impacts of fire suppression in the roadless area. 
View looking south from Yale Fire.
The fire is burning on the east aspect, meaning that smoke may be visible from the Island Park area in the coming days.  Fire personnel from the Island Park Ranger District will be closely monitoring the Yale Fire, so additional reporting is not necessary.  Future fire updates will be provided as conditions change.  If you have any questions, please call the Ashton Ranger District at (208) 652-7442.  Future updates will be posted as available.