Closures and evacuation alerts that went into effect at Mount Rainier National Park in September have been called off because of diminishing danger from wildfires.
Park officials announced on Sept. 21 that the entire State Route 410 corridor was open again after being closed earlier in the month in response to fire outside the northeast boundary of the park. Trails in the area were also reopened to normal use, except for the Pacific Crest Trail north of Chinook Pass.
In addition, all evacuation orders affecting the park were canceled.
Problems created by the massive Norse Peak wildfire were virtually over for the park, although officials advised the public to watch for fire crews when driving on SR-410. The firefighters were still monitoring areas along the highway.
On Sept. 5, officials closed the northeast portion of the park and alerted campers and hikers to the "unpredictable" path of the Norse Peak fire, which was burning outside the east boundary of the park. Sunrise Road was closed between its junction with SR-410 near the White River and Sunrise areas of the park.
Backcountry closures in the park included all trails and cross country zones on the east side.
Those areas included Frozen Lake to Panhandle Gap, and all of the trails with trailheads along SR-410 and State Route 123 north of the Stevens Canyon entrance. Hikers in the closed area were being contacted when possible by park personnel, and anyone planning on picking up hikers at trailheads within the closed area were advised to contact park officials.
During the closure, the White River Campground was under a Level 2 evacuation notice. Level 2 indicates there is significant danger in the area and people who choose to remain should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
Campers at the White River site were encouraged to leave the campground and at least be packed and ready to go in the event of a mandatory evacuation.
As of Sept. 21, the Norse Peak fire had consumed about 56,000 acres since being started Aug. 11 by lightning. Updates on thefire can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5509/.
Some of the National Park areas that were closed while the fire was threatening them are now under snow. As of Sept. 19, the early arrival of backcountry snow included a foot of snow at Panhandle Gap, according to officials. Similar conditions were reported throughout the park above 4,500 feet in elevation.
Meanwhile, a ban on all outdoor burning in Pierce County remains in effect. The ban took effect July 15 after being ordered by the county fire marshal because of a high potential for wildfires due to hot, dry conditions.
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