On the night of July 18th, a thunderstorm set a tree ablaze on the ridge above Goat Creek. The strike was on the east side of Rock Creek valley, at mile 6.8, and it was this lightning strike that began the Goat Creek fire. Over days and then weeks, the fire expanded south towards Brewster Creek, north towards Babcock Mountain, and east towards Golden Mountain. Eventually the forest service renamed all three Rock Creek fires–Goat Creek, Sliderock and Little Hogback–as the Sapphire Complex fire. At the time of this posting, the combined fire was over ten thousand acres with over 400 firefighters assigned.
On the bright side, fire is natural with many benefits to the forest, such as reducing the fuel load on the forest floor. And, the damage from the fire wasn’t continuous, with much of the forest surviving and perhaps the stronger for it. Just as Rock Creek healed from the 2007 Sawmill fire, so it will from the 2017 Goat Creek fire. Next spring will be extra green!