Hoodsport merchants still are waiting to see if the forest fire up the road from their town will affect their business.
Scott Purvis, manager of Hood Canal Grocery, said he hasnt seen a drop-off in business so far because of the Bear Gulch 2 fire, which started July 25.
“Weve still been pretty busy,” he said. “Last weekend, I dont think everybody truly knew about it (the fire).”
Its possible that fewer crowds will come to Hoodsport this weekend because they cannot reach the Staircase recreation area, Purvis said. But plenty of other destinations take people through town.
Photos courtesy of U.S. Forest Service
A forest fire near Lake Cushman, called the Bear Gulch 2 fire, continues to creep along in underbrush on Mount Rose above the road to the Staircase recreation area.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service
Rolling rocks, caused by fire on the steep slope, are the major reason for closing the road to the Staircase area.
Shannon Condit of the Model T Tavern in Hoodsport said she is seeing just as many tourists in her establishment as before the fire. A lot of people are going to summer homes along Lake Cushman below the road closure, she noted.
The fire, now listed at 275 acres in size, continues to smolder and creep along the southern slopes of Mount Rose. Drying conditions are expected to create more smoke this weekend, as two heavy helicopters continue to dump water on the fire. Steep terrain makes it too dangerous to fight the fire directly on the slope, but a 20-person crew is working the west flank of the fire near Bear Gulch, according to Mark Mueller, fire information officer for the Interagency Management Team.
Officers with the Mason County Sheriffs Office and Cushman Fire District 18 will patrol the north end of Lake Cushman this weekend to keep boaters clear of an area where the helicopters are working. Some boats crossed a boundary line marked by temporary buoys on Thursday. That caused delays for the helicopters, which cant pick up water when boats are present, Mueller said.
Meanwhile, fire managers have called for an official inquiry into the actions of a float-plane pilot who violated flight restrictions around the fire and landed on the lake. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
The fire has closed the Staircase campground, picnic area and ranger station, as well as several trails in Olympic National Park. In addition the Mount Rose and Dry Creek Trails are closed in Olympic National Forest.
Campfire and smoking restrictions remain in effect. Campfires in the national forest are allowed only in fireplaces in designated campgrounds. In the national park, campfires are permitted only in established fire grates in front country developed campgrounds.