Above: Satellite photo showing smoke created by a fire in France, July 26, 2017. The red dots represent heat.
(Originally published at 8 p.m. MDT [UTC -6] July 26, 2017)
Wildfires in France and Portugal are disrupting the lives of thousands of residents and tourists. Each country has multiple large fires, but one of the largest in France is near the Mediterranean coast 77 km (48 miles) east of Marseille between La Londe-les-Maures and Le Lavandou and has forced the evacuation of about 12,000 people.
Mistral winds spread the fires quickly causing 60 people to be evacuated by boat while others spent the night in gyms, public places, or on the beach.
There was also a 2,000-hectare (4,950-acre) fire on the French island of Corsica.
More than 1,000 firefighters are working on wildfires throughout the country.
Portugal is also struggling to contain a group of fires about 152 km (94 miles) northeast of Lisbon. It was just five weeks ago that a wildfire southeast of Coimbra, Portugal killed at least 62 people, most of whom were attempting to escape in their vehicles. Those fires were about 63 km northwest of the current blazes that are south of Perdigao burning in dense pine and in some cases non-native eucalyptus plantations. Many areas around the world grow eucalyptus in order to harvest the leaves and oil to make medicine. But wildfires burn rapidly under them and through the tree crowns. Earlier this year we took this photo after a fire in Chile spread through a plantation.
About 2,000 firefighters with 700 vehicles are battling wildfires around Portugal. As in France, the fires are being pushed by strong winds.
Portugal’s fire season usually begins after July 1 but it got an early start this year.
(Originally published at 11:29 a.m. PDT July 6, 2017)
Firefighters on the Modoc National Forest in Northeastern California are dealing with the aftermath of lightning activity that left, at last count, approximately 51 fires. The actual number is a little nebulous because they have not been able to locate all that have been reported and it is likely that others will be discovered in coming days.
The responsibility to manage 25 to 30 of the fires has been delegated to the Northern California Interagency Incident Management Team II which assumed command Tuesday of fires within a specific geographic area. The team will handle the fires north and east of Highway 139 and north and west of Highways 299 and 395.
The map below shows the location of fires within the team’s responsibility area that were large and hot enough to be detected during a 1:30 a.m. PDT mapping flight Wednesday morning.
Rain Tuesday night slowed activity on many of the fires, but there is a Red Flag Warning in effect until 11 p.m. Wednesday predicting abundant lightning which will be followed by warmer weather on Thursday and through the weekend.
Above: The Lodgepole Complex of fires. Uncredited photo posted to Inciweb July 23, 2017.
(Originally published at 9:20 a.m. MDT July 26, 2017)
Firefighters continue to make progress on the Lodgepole Complex of fires in Eastern Montana south of Lake Fort Peck. More accurate mapping shows that the fire has burned a total of 270,000 acres on the four fires, Bridge Coulee, Barker, South Breaks, and Square Butte.
Early Wednesday morning the only large concentrations of intense heat detected by an aircraft were on the north side adjacent to Lake Fort Peck, but a lot of the fire perimeter still does not have completed fireline.
Firefighters have been conducting burnout operations to secure the lines and in some locations have increased the depth along the containment lines by one quarter mile.
The weather on Wednesday is predicted to be warmer and drier with gusty winds out of the south.
The Mariposa County Sheriff’s office announced that three people have been arrested for stealing firefighting equipment on the Detwiler Fire, an 80,000-acre fire between Mariposa and Coulterville, California.
This is one of the more despicable crimes. Congratulations to the Sheriff’s office for making the arrests.
Here is an excerpt from their press release issued July 24, 2017.
Three areas have issued Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisories that are currently in effect. The advisories are valid for 14 days from the date of issuance.
The documents do not indicate which person, group, or office came up with the information. One of them has the “Predictive Services” logo, but there are many such offices with multiple employees. The others provide no clue how, where, or by whom they originated.
It has been our position that a technical document that relies on scientific data and expertise gained through years of experience, and which recommends specific action be taken, should be signed. Someone needs to have their name(s) attached. Was it put together by an intern, or someone with 35 years of experience? Be brave and convince us that we should take the advice to take action seriously.
(Originally published at 12:53 p.m. MDT July 25, 2017)
(Updated at 4:52 p.m. MDT July 25, 2017)
There was a fatality at a fire in Fairburn, South Dakota Monday morning when a civilian died near one of two burned structures. Jim Strain, Assistant Chief of the Fairburn Volunteer Fire Department who was Incident Commander on the fire, said one of the structures, a single-family residence, was occupied and the other, a two-story house, was vacant.
No other information was available about the fatality as of 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday.
After the fire started around 10 a.m. calls were received in several fire departments in the area saying multiple structures were burning in Fairburn and it was spotting into the grass — send everything you can.
At around 11:30 a.m. firefighters had the one acre of vegetation and the structure fires knocked down with the help of a single engine air tanker. Since there is no high-volume water source in the small town so water tenders were driving miles to refill.
Chief Strain said there was a great interagency effort from three counties, state, and federal agencies.