By Bruce A. Smith
Update: Monday August 31, noon:
The National Forest Service announced today that the Alder Lake fire continues to “smolder” even after torrential rains passed through the area over the week.
But the fire did not spread over the weekend and remains at 275 acres. The NFS says the fire is now 15% contained.
Update: Saturday August 29, 3 pm:
National Forest Service spokesperson Kristin Bowles announced today that the overnight rains have “calmed things down” at the Alder Lake fire but not extinguished it. The fire has entered its third week of burning.
“We’re still going to need a lot more rain,” she said, adding, “I hope the winds stay calm, too.”
Saturday morning high winds reaching 50 mph roared through the Eatonville area, but had greatly diminished by early afternoon.
The Alder Lake fire is now at 275 acres, according to reports posted on the NFS’ fire incident web page. In response, 157 firefighting personnel have been assigned to combating the flames – deploying five bulldozers, three wildfire engines, and miscellaneous heavy equipment.
The fire was first detected August 11, and is believed to have been started by a lightning strike.
A Level 1 Evacuation notice has been posted for the Pleasant Valley Road area, which lies west of Mineral and is home to approximately 15-20 residences, Bowles said.
Level 1 alerts are announcements that residents should be aware of the fire dangers and begin to make evacuation plans. Level 2 is a call to pack, and Level 3 is a notice to leave.
The Pleasant Valley Road is also the primary access point for firefighters to engage the Alder Lake fire.
Smoke from the Alder Lake and regional fires, such as the massive burn in the Mount Adams area, have greatly affected many residents of south Pierce County, especially those with breathing and cardiac problems.
In addition, dry conditions have added to the pulmonary stress of many, and small fires have blossomed locally, such as the piece of farm equipment and several acres that burned along SR 161 in Graham, Thursday.