JACKSON (WNE) – After a calm morning, the largest wildfire of 2020 in Jackson Hole was just picking up steam Monday afternoon and starting to torch trees and grow along its perimeter.
Because of the time of year and its location well into the Teton Wilderness, the Bridger-Teton National Forest is giving the 230-acre Pilgrim Creek Fire some latitude to move around the landscape as it naturally would. That’s not to say the wildfire is being allowed to burn in the absence of any management, Bridger-Teton fire prevention specialist Lesley Williams Gomez said.
“They’re still working the fire edge and gathering information,” she said. “They’re just not using chainsaws yet.”
There are “management action points” that would trigger the use of chainsaws, helicopter bucket drops and heavier-handed techniques to suppress the wildfire.
One of those action points is Pilgrim Creek itself. The eight wildland firefighters from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and Grand Teton National Park assigned to the blaze are also trying to keep it from moving to the west.
For now, firefighters are using “minimal impact suppression tactics,” such as using natural barriers like ridgelines to help harness the fire, which was first spotted Sept. 30.
Although the Pilgrim Creek Fire grew into a modest wildfire in less than a week, fire managers have factors working in their favor, including colder weather on the horizon.
After weeks of high pressure and relative warmth, a cold front is also forecasted to push through the valley starting Sunday and will create conditions less agreeable to growth.
The cause of the Pilgrim Creek Fire has not been determined.