Wildfire briefing, April 24, 2014

Fire in New Jersey

A vegetation fire in New Jersey has burned about 1,500 acres in the Edward G. Bevan Fish and Wildlife Management Area. At least one single engine air tanker and a helicopter have been assisting the firefighters on the ground. 

The Random Ramblings blog has some photos that were taken from an air tanker operated by Downstown Aero. Other photos can be found at ABClocal.

Homes at risk in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs has released a map showing the areas in the city that are most at risk from wildland fire. A homeowner can use the map to zoom in to see their individual parcel, rated anywhere from low risk to extreme risk.

More cities should provide maps like this.

Wildfire risk, Colorado Springs

In the last two years wildfires in Colorado Springs have killed four residents and burned 833 homes.

One person killed in wildfire in Nepal

One person was killed and 42 homes burned in a wildfire near Illam, Nepal.

From ekantipur.com:

ILLAM, APR 23 – A person died on the spot while two others were injured seriously when a huge stone fell on them from a cliff above as they were extinguishing forest fire in Bhanjo-1 of the district.

In the incident that took place on Wednesday morning, Ram Kumar Rai, 55, of Banjho-1 was killed while Ranjit Rai, 23 and Bhadra Maya Rai, 50 were injured, according to the Area Police Office, Mangalbare.

Meanwhile, fire engulfed 42 houses at Inaruwa VDC of Saptari district this morning. The fire that broke out from a cowshed of Dhaneshwro Mandal spread to 42 houses belonging to 22 households.


New videos: Smoke, and South Canyon

The National Interagency Fire Center has released more videos to be used during this year’s annual firefighter refresher training. The title of the first one is 2014 WFSTAR: Smoke: Knowing the Risks. They don’t tell you what the acronym “WFSTAR” means, but apparently it stands for Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher.

I have always felt it was important to attempt to manage firefighters’ exposure to smoke and on some prescribed fires I issued carbon monoxide detectors.

The next two videos, 2014 WFSTAR: Parts One & Two, 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, are about the lessons learned after 14 firefighters were killed July 16, 1994 on the fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. In the video, 11 firefighters that survived tell their stories.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Preston and Greg.



Wildfire Red Flag Warnings, April 24, 2014

Warnings for elevated wildfire danger have been issued by the National Weather Service for areas in South Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Delaware Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, California, and Colorado

The Red Flag Warning map was current as of 9:30 a.m. MDT on Thursday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.


A view of the potential in the Oakland Hills through the eyes of an Australian


1991 Tunnel Fire

1991 Tunnel Fire. Screen shot from the Oakland Wildfire Prevention Assessment District video below.

The Oakland Hills, which was devastated by the Tunnel Fire in 1991, has some things in common with Australia. The most obvious is the eucalyptus trees, a species imported from down under. The volatile highly combustible oil in the leaves causes fires to burn rapidly under them and through the tree crowns. The eucalyptus contributed to the spread of the Tunnel fire, which killed 25 people, injured 106 residents, and burned 3,354 homes.

Christine Erikson has written about fires in Australia and authored a book titled Gender and Wildfire: Landscapes of Uncertainty. During a visit to the United States in which she made presentations at conferences, she toured the Oakland Hills. Below is an excerpt from an article she wrote about the experience:

…I felt right at home amongst the swaying eucalyptus trees, which despite much controversy still stand tall in the Oakland Hills. Yet, unlike the ‘Prepare, Stay and Defend or Leave Early’ mantra that is associated with living in eucalyptus dominated (i.e. fire-prone) landscapes in Australia, it was the continuing absence of an official policy on how to better prepare residents for future wildfires in the Oakland Hill that loomed large for me during the fieldtrip. What should residents do if evacuation is not a feasible option in the future? How can residents prepare so a similar disaster is prevented? These questions linger like ghosts at every twist and turn of the narrow, winding mountain roads where smoke, embers and flames resulted in accidents and panic that fatally trapped residents in 1991.

This ghostly presence clearly has not escaped the attention of the local Oakland Fire Department. In addition to official projects, the Department is now “unofficially” advising residents on what they can do to increase their chances of survival. Preparing properties in the Oakland Hills, however, is easier said than done. The recommended ten-metre clearance around residential homes is unrealistic in most of these neighbourhoods dominated by quarter acre blocks. A representative from the Oakland Hills Wildfire Prevention program pointed out that when these two-dimensional blocks are considered three-dimensionally, thus taking into consideration the considerable hill slope, these blocks become one-acre properties in need of defence. He furthermore spoke to the frustration of local building-, planning- and fire-codes not supporting each other. The statutory law of developing a given property, for example, sits within a planning code that does not necessarily follow local fire safety recommendations. 

The video below, produced by the Oakland Wildfire Prevention Assessment District, discusses the 1991 Tunnel fire and what the city is doing now to mitigate the vulnerability the area has to the next wildfire.


Red Flag Warnings, April 23, 2014

wildfire Red Flag Warnings, April 23, 2014

Warnings for elevated wildfire danger have been issued by the National Weather Service for areas in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

The Red Flag Warning map was current as of 9:20 a.m. MDT on Wednesday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.


Wildfire briefing, April 22, 2014

Iowa resident dies while burning brush

Authorities in Iowa have identified a resident who was found by firefighters who responded to a brush fire on April 20 in Delaware County, about 40 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids.

From The Gazette:

…A Tuesday news release said Generose (Genny) Bennett, 78, of Oneida was apparently burning brush Sunday afternoon when the fire got out of control.

The update comes after the Greeley Fire Department responded to a cornfield fire in Oneida on Sunday at 2:11 p.m., where they discovered a body in the field.

Wildfire contained in Shenandoah National Park

WHSV described the size of the fire:

A wildfire in Shenandoah National Park is now down to 22 acres, after already burning 50 acres inside the park.

Burned bridge in Alberta back in service after burning on Sunday