Eden Fire Incident in Sequioa National Park

The Eden Fire is one of the recorded wildfire incidents in California in 2018., located within Sequioa National Park. Unlike the butte county camp fire, the Eden fire was ignited naturally by lightning on October 4, 2018 as a series of thunderstorms passed through the park during the first week of that month. Like most other wildfire incidents, Eden Fire was named after its ignition point, which is the Eden Creek Grove of giant sequoias.

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Eden fire

Initial Stages

Eden Fire progressed slowly since it began in the early days of October. By the first week of November, the burn area was estimated to be about five acres. Although the smoke can readily be seen from the Mineral King Road and other elevated areas in the Three Rivers Area, the fire at this point was burning the rugged and steep area of the John Krebs Wilderness. Unlike the Nurse Fire, the Eden Fire wasn’t posing any threats to life or any infrastructure at this stage.

Even though the Eden Fire was already burning for a month, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Fire Management Program are allowing it to run its course. The park’s fire management experts believed that intervening directly or indirectly would have done more damage to the wilderness than the fire itself. Despite the smoke, the visitor services in the Mineral King sector of the Sequoia National Park remains unaffected, but the Mineral King Road was closed to the public on October 31.

Wild Fire Progress Aftermath

By November 14, 2018, Eden Fire’s burn area had grown to be more than 343 acres, a stark contrast to the 400,000 acres of the Potter Valley Fire. The western edge of the fire slowly crept towards the Eden Creek drainage, but it has established on the east side of the drainage. The park’s fire experts at this point did not see any indication that it was moving southwards to Homer’s Nose. The behavior of Eden Fire remained positive, with its fuel coming mostly from brush, downed tree logs and a few standing dead trees, which are also called “snags.” Since the area has no modern fire history, there are several snags in the area primarily due to natural tree mortality.

Smoke was already visible from the western side of the Sequioa National Park, a dangerous sign of the growing wildfire. Apart from the Eden Fire, some of the visible smoke is from three other brush fires within the park. The Sequoia national Park Fire Management Office maintained that their office take air quality concerns very seriously. However, Eden Fire was allowed to continue on its course since it was burning in designated wilderness. The office did not see the need to intervene with Eden Fire since it was ecologically beneficial and it will be unwise to take away valuable firefighting resources away from more dangerous fires in California.

Aftermath

Eden Fire was finally declared as 100% contained early in December 2018. By then, it has burned through an estimated 1,777 acres of brush, dead logs, snags, mixed conifer and some sequoia trees. Throughout the course of Eden Fire, no suppression efforts were made, which means that no firefighters were placed at risk. The park welcomed the Eden Fire incident as it created a modern fire history in the area, which in turn, will make management of significantly more dangerous fires in hotter months more manageable.

Prior to Eden Fire, the area had over a century of extreme fuel loading. The burn eased the fuel load and significantly reduced the risks and costs that are associated with suppressing future fire incidents in the park. The fire ecologists in Sequoia National Park also believe that the Eden Fire made the area more resilient to climate change and more sustainable.