The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has published a video about the burnover of three fire engines and a hand crew that occurred on the 1987 Crank Fire in northern California. Three engines were destroyed. The burnover was captured on video by a fixed wing aircraft that was conducting an aerial retardant study.
Under the direction of the four supervisors, two USFS and two CDF, all 25 firefighters deployed their fire shelters and remained under cover for about 40 to 45 minutes. The injuries which occurred were limited to a few first and second-degree burns, eye irritation, and minor smoke inhalation.
The burnover occurred on August 30 during the “Siege of 1987″, when lightning in late August started 1,600 fires in northern California and southern Oregon that burned 650,000 acres. Some of the fires burned into October.
A Colorado Senator wants the federal government to override a protest that could delay the acquisition of seven next-generation air tankers this fire season. Neptune Aviation lodged a protest with the Government Accountability Office which could delay the activation of the new contracts until August 26. (Read the full story over at Fire Aviation.)
Frederick James May, 18, was charged with 12 counts of arson in connection with fires near York on Wednesday and in the Priest Pass area May 10. Five of those fires are being managed as the Sweats Complex, with the total number of acres burned listed at 450 with 225 personnel assigned.
East Valley Volunteer Fire Chief Dave Sammons confirmed Thursday that Maw had served with that department for “about three or four months” last year before turning in his gear and preparing to join the military.
He had a relatively low level of participation in the department activities, Sammons said.
When Maw applied this winter to rejoin the department, he was refused, Sammons said, based on a review of his earlier performance.
Frederick James Maw, 18, was spotted on the scene of the fires outside York on Nelson Road, as well as in the Spokane Hills in Broadwater County on Tuesday, in full firefighting gear but apparently not affiliated with any of the fire crews.According to early reports, he claimed he was a contract firefighter.
He eventually admitted starting all three sets of recent fires, according to the report — nine in the York area, three on Priest Pass on May 10 and two in the Spokane Hills on Tuesday.Each arson count carries a possible penalty of 20 years in a prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
His arrest at about 5:50 p.m. Thursday capped a day in which fire crews scrambled to contain five fires suspiciously located on either side of Nelson Road. Deputies blocked the exit from the area in York to question travelers.
Rain on Thursday and higher humidity slowed the five fires in the Sweats Complex considerably. Their current status of as of 10 a.m. May 17:
Hunters Gulch at 150 acres and the fire is 75% contained
Sweats Gulch at about 300 acres and 25% contained
Pipepline Fire at 1 acre; contained, controlled and in patrol status
Kelly Gulch fires are a total of 5 acres and about 90% contained
Cottontail Fire at 2 acres is contained, controlled and in patrol status
Screen grab from the National Geographic Channel video.
Apparently there is a show on the National Geographic Channel called Python Hunters. I happened to run across this video from the program, which includes a controlled burn. Their objective was not to kill the large snakes, they said, but to drive them out of the brush, or underground.
If you are familiar with controlled burns or prescribed fires, you will not recognize any of the techniques in this video…. unless you prep your prescribed fires by throwing five gallon buckets of diesel onto the vegetation.
Surprisingly, a representative of the Miami-Dade Fire Department is on scene, probably to reduce the chances of the actors killing themselves. The project may have been surrounded by mostly bare ground — it’s hard to tell — so there might have been little chance of the fire escaping.
Screen grab from the National Geographic Channel video.
Just to be absolutely clear, definitely do not try this technique. Diesel is not as volatile or explosive as gasoline but what they did, shown in the video, is dangerous. If they had mixed gasoline with the diesel, as is usually done when fueling drip torches for a real prescribed fire, or used straight gasoline, there could have been an explosion when they ignited it, depending on the concentration.
Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches for enhanced wildfire danger have been issued by the National Weather Service for areas in Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico.
Miraculously, Utah and northwest New Mexico escaped the extreme fire weather.
The Red Flag Warning map above was current as of 8:50 a.m. MT 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.
Greg Walden, the congressional Representative from Oregon’s second district, sent a letter to the Regional Forester for the USFS’ northwest region, and the BLM State Director for Oregon, dated Wednesday, encouraging the use of private contractors for suppression of wildfires. He also came out in favor of increased grazing and timber harvesting on federal lands. Here is an excerpt from his letter:
With the current national focus regarding the federal budget deficit, there is an important need to reduce federal spending, and private wildland firefighting businesses are providing important best-value resources for wildfire suppression activities. As I understand, private businesses are able to engage in suppression activities at a lower percentage of the cost as compared to other government resources when the total cost of those government resources are taken into account. In addition, private businesses have increased their coverage areas, cut response times, and arrive as self-contained emergency responders. As we work to be as efficient as possible with taxpayer dollars, I hope that you are taking greater advantage of these private businesses’ services both for initial and extended attack operations.
Representative Walden appears to be encouraging federal land management agencies to hire private contractors over government workers. It is common to use private firefighters on large fires, but having them take over the initial attack role in large numbers would be a significant change and would be resisted by many fire managers.