Indian Heaven Wilderness, East Crater - Wildfire Erupts

A major wildfire erupts about a mile south of our backpacking camp, southwest of Mount Adams. The trail is blocked. Now what?
David Shema David Shema
Safety Committee Chair
September 11, 2017

Indian Heaven Wilderness, East Crater - 3 September

Trip leader report. 
photo - US Forest Service Photo oF fire mapping crew near east creater

LEADER

At 9am Sunday a major forest fire suddenly erupted about a mile south of our camp and required us to hike out soon afterward. The fire was near the trail we had hiked in on, so another backpacker camped near us led us out on an uncharted trail that he was familiar with. After we hiked out, the entire Indian Heaven Wilderness and surrounding areas were evacuated and closed. At last report the fire was still out of control and had consumed 1000 acres.

PARTICIPANT

There was a fire at East Crater, which we saw shortly after it started. Our group did everything possible to help each other out, including assisting other backpackers on the trail. We evacuated as quickly as possible and no one was hurt. I think the incident was handled very well by the leader, as well as the group. 

Lessons Learned

LEADER

Research alternate routes for the event in which the entry route becomes blocked.

PARTICIPANT

Everyone worked together in our group. We were  able to help each other pack, and we carried bags for others so they could get out safely. People waited for each other, and we made sure the entire group was accounted for.

A suggestion: Have trip leaders carry satellite phones. If we could have reported the fire earlier, I wonder if this fire could have been prevented from becoming so big.

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