Escaped Campfire on Elk Island Prompts Suppression Actions

Elk Island, the largest island on Jackson Lake,
 lies near the southwestern shoreline
August 27, 2010
Teton Interagency firefighters initiated suppression actions on a new fire in Grand Teton National Park today, August 27. The tenth-acre Elk Fire was spotted at 6:49 a.m. Friday on the northwest tip of Elk Island, which is located in Jackson Lake. The island serves as a popular site for boat camping.

Law enforcement rangers located the boater that had camped at the site on Thursday night, and although he had a fire permit, he failed to properly extinguish his campfire before leaving the site Friday morning. High winds caused the fire to spot outside the rocky area below the high water mark where fires are permitted. The boater had changed his camping location about 2 a.m. because of the winds. He stated that he did not notice that the fire was still smoldering and therefore did not make attempts to extinguish it.

“It’s imperative that campers extinguish their fires before going to sleep at night,” North District Ranger Patrick Hattaway said. “Campfires should never be left unattended or abandoned. Campers need to make sure their campfire is cold to the touch before leaving a campsite.”

Hattaway said failure to properly extinguish a campfire has a minimum fine of $100, but can require a mandatory court appearance and a judge can require restitution for suppression costs and damages.

The Elk Fire is smoldering in grass and light timber. Three firefighters from Teton Interagency’s Engine 4 responded to the fire by taking a boat from Colter Bay to Elk Island. They expect to have the fire contained by 6 p.m. today.

The Teton Interagency dispatch area, which includes Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, was in a Red Flag Warning on Thursday for critical fire weather because of high winds and low humidity.