Lava Mountain Fire northwest of Dubois, Wyoming

Lava Mountain Fire
Lava Mountain Fire July 18, 2016 InciWeb

In the first 13 days since starting from a lightning strike, the Lava Mountain Fire 12 miles northwest of Dubois, Wyoming had been steadily growing, but generally not at a rapid pace. That began to change on Sunday when the rate of spread picked up significantly and it added an additional 1,200 acres for a total of 5,488 acres. On Monday it added at least that much again and according to our very rough, unofficial estimate had burned approximately 7,000 acres by 3 p.m. on Monday.

Most of the recent growth is on the south and southeast sides.

map Lava Mountain Fire
The red dots represent heat detected on the Lava Mountain Fire by a satellite at 3:01 p.m. MDT July 25, 2016. The red line was the fire perimeter mapped by an infrared aircraft at 11 p.m. MDT July 24, 2016. Click to enlarge.

Currently, the south flank of the fire is pushing east and hooking around near the Sand Butte area. According to information released by the incident management team on July 25, “If the direction of spread continues, the fire will be lined up to be pushed by the wind towards the Union Pass road. For these reasons the following areas are in stage “GO” and should evacuate immediately: Union Pass, Warm Springs, Porcupine, and Hat Butte.”

The weather forecast for the fire area calls for strong winds Monday night, but slowing on Tuesday and Wednesday to come out of the west and southwest at 6 to 13 mph. The temperatures will be in the high 70’s and relative humidity in the teens through Wednesday.

New Hampshire firefighter dies while fighting wildfire

Charles Waterbury
Charles Waterbury. Orford Fire Department photo.

A firefighter with the Orford New Hampshire Fire Department died in the line of duty on Sunday July 25 while fighting a wildfire.

Charles Waterbury, a 10-year veteran of the Department, suffered a medical emergency at a lightning-caused fire. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Governor Maggie Hassan has ordered all flags to fly at half-staff until Wednesday.

“Charles Waterbury courageously rushed to fight a brush fire in Lyme to protect his fellow citizens, and in doing so, was tragically taken from us far too soon,” Governor Hassan said. “Through his service in the Orford Fire Department and the New Hampshire National Guard, Charles dedicated his life to keeping others safe, and his heroic commitment to public service has strengthened our state and our nation. Tom and I join all Granite Staters in mourning his tragic loss, and it is our responsibility as Granite Staters to come together in support of Charles’ family, loved ones, fellow firefighters and the entire Orford community.”

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Waterbury’s friends, family, and fellow firefighters.

Sand fire to be declared local emergency for L.A. County

3-D map Sand fire
3-D Map of the Sand Fire, looking east. It shows heat detected by a satellite. The red dots are the most current, detected at 2:01 p.m. PDT July 25, 2016.

(Updated 12:34 p.m. MDT, July 26, 2016)

Officials in Los Angeles have identified the body of Robert Bresnick, 67, who was found dead Saturday in a neighborhood burned by the Sand fire. 

The fire has also destroyed at least 18 homes. Many of the thousands of residents who were forced to evacuate were allowed to return home Monday night. 

Bresnick had refused to evacuate, local media outlets reported. 


(Updated at 9:30 p.m. MDT, July 25, 2016)

The Sand fire continued to rage outside of Los Angeles on Monday, and while firefighters still struggled to contain it, thousands of evacuation residents were allowed to return home.

(Maps of evacuation zones and lists of neighborhoods can be found here.)

On Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to declare the Sand fire — which has destroyed 18 homes and possibly killed one person — a local emergency, a declaration that usually paves the way for grant funding to help communities recover after natural disasters.

Near the city of Santa Clarita, the fire grew by more than 10,000 acres on Sunday, according to the incident management team’s Monday-morning updates. By Monday night the fire spanned more than 35,000 acres and remained only 10 percent contained.

map Sand Fire
Map showing heat detected on the Sand Fire by a satellite. The red dots are the most current, detected at 2:01 p.m. PDT July 25, 2016. At that time the fire was actively spreading on the east side, as well as on the west side, east of Santa Clarita and Highway 14.
Here are some updated stats on resources:

  • 3,379 firefighters are engaged on the Sand Fire,
  • Resources: 435 engines, 54 hand crews, 26 helicopters, 22 dozers and 17 water tenders.

On Sunday, aircraft were briefly kept from the skies over the Sand fire when a personal drone was spotted in the area. While aircraft were only out of commission for 30 minutes (according to local media reports), this was the second time in a week that aircraft were downed because a drone. A similar incident in Montana occurred on the same day.

 Soberanes fire destroys 20 homes, 10 percent contained

Thanks to reader, Rick Baldridge, for sending us this photo, taken when the fire started on July 23.

Rick Baldridge 2016
Rick Baldridge 2016
(Updated 10 p.m. MDT, July 25, 2016)

While the Sand fire rages in L.A. County, the Soberanes fire near Big Sur in Monterey County has forced evacuations as it continues to spread with little to no containment.

Some quick stats (see more here):

  • 16,100; 10 percent contained
  • 1,650 structures threatened; 20 homes destroyed, 2 outbuildings
  • Resources:
    Engines: 210
    Crews: 42
    Helicopters: 14
    Air Tankers: 6
    Dozers: 56
    Water Tenders: 20
    Total Personnel: 2,285

CAL Fire’s Chief Public Information Officer Daniel Berlant shared some spectacular photos on Twitter:



L.A. County wildfire destroys 18 homes, kills one

A fire raging in Los Angeles County destroyed at least 18 homes and killed one person, whose body was found outside of a home in Santa Clarita, according to local media reports. 

Thousands of homes remain threatened as the Sand fire doubled in size from Friday to Saturday. Officials had planned to lift evacuation orders for some threatened neighborhoods, but changed their minds after an unexpected wind event, according to updates on

Drones have also caused problems for firefighting efforts on the Sand fire, according to a posting from the incident management team on  Local media reported that a drone flying in the Bear Divide area of the Angeles National Forest suspended flight operations on Sunday for 30 minutes.

On Friday, a similar incident shutdown fire operations in Montana.

Some quick facts about the Sand fire:

  • Started: July 22, around 2:15 p.m. PST
  • Cause: Undetermined
  • Total personnel: 1,673
  • Size: 22,000 acres
  • Resources: 122 engines, 39 hand crews, 15 helicopters and 8 dozers.



Drone stalls airtanker flights over Montana fire

Montana law enforcement officials have seized a drone that shut down airtanker flights Saturday over the Fritz fire, burning outside of Billings. 

The incident comes less than a month after the Federal Aviation Administration sent a mass email to all people who have drones registered with agency asking that they not fly during wildfires. 

The email warned that “drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution.”

(Read a copy of the email here.)

The Fritz fire has destroyed at least one home and burned more than 1,000 acres, according to local media reports. As of Sunday, local media said it was at 40 percent containment. 

The fire ignited Friday evening, and that night a private drone was spotted flying in the area. The Billings-Gazette reported law enforcement officials took possession of the drone on Friday. 

It appears that flight operations were shut down for a half-an-hour.  

Drones, like other aircraft, are subject to temporary flight restrictions put in place during a wildfire, according to information from the National Fire Information Center. 

According to information compiled by NIFC: 

“Individuals who are determined to have interfered with wildfire suppression efforts may be subject to civil penalties and potentially criminal prosecution.”