Impressive photo of a fire in Washington

This photo of a fire in Washington, taken recently by Michael Stanford, reminds us of the famous photo of the elk in a stream next to a fire, shot by John McColgan a number of years ago.

Click here to see a larger version of the photo.



High temperatures forecast for the West through August 13

Temperatures higher than normal are in the forecast through August 13 for Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and parts of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona. If ignitions occur, firefighters could be busy in the far west for the next couple of weeks, while those farther east will see temperatures cooler than normal.

August 1 through 5:

Temperature outlook, Aug 1-5

August 1 through 5.

August 7 through 13:

Temperature outlook, Aug 7-13

August 7 through 13.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Jim.


Firefighter dies while off duty in Oregon

Several media outlets are reporting that a wildland firefighter died while he was off duty at a fire camp. Matthew David Goodnature, 21, of Phoenix, Oregon was found by another firefighter Tuesday evening, July 29, near Four Mile Lake on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Oregon. Mr. Goodnature was assigned to the Launch Fire and apparently took a walk away from the camp where an accident occurred.

According to Newswatch 12:

Detective Nick Kennedy with the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case, and said he cannot draw any conclusions until his investigation is done. However, it appears that Goodnature tripped on a large rock and fell backwards. Scruff marks and other traces indicated Goodnature fell on a log that struck him on the small of his back. Detective Kennedy said it appears he died of a broken back.

Mr. Goodnature worked for Pacific Oasis Wildland Firefighting out of Ashland, Oregon.

We offer our sincere condolences to his family, friends,and co-workers.

Previously this year, there have been a total of six wildland firefighter fatalities: one aviation accident (plane crash) and five medical emergencies (heart attack). All six were either state or local jurisdiction employees.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Jeff.


Cake honors wildland firefighters

fire cake by Sarah C. Gracey

I was flipping through the channels one day and ran across the “Cake Boss” show, where they do impressive things with flour and sugar. But I’ve never seen a fancy cake that was dedicated to wildland firefighters. Some of the detail is amazing. Check out the stitching in the belt loops.

It was cooked made constructed invented by Sarah C. Gracey, an Urban Forestry Coordinator for the Kentucky Division of Forestry. Ms. Gracey is also qualified as a Type 2 Public Information Officer.

fire cake by Sarah C. Gracey

fire cake by Sarah C. Gracey


I have discovered a new hazard in writing about wildland fire… getting very hungry while covering a story about a fire cake.


California: French Fire

(UPDATED at 7:25 p.m. PDT, July 30, 2014)

French and 2013Aspen Fire 7-29-2014

French Fire (burning now) and the 2013 Aspen Fire. (click to see a larger version)

We dug up the data for the July, 2013 Aspen Fire that was just across the drainage from where the French Fire is burning now — and put both fire perimeters on the above map.

Below is the 3-D version of the map.

French and 2013 Aspen Fire

3-D: French Fire (burning now) and the 2013 Aspen Fire. (click to see a larger version)


(UPDATED at 6:40 a.m. PDT, July 30, 2014)

Map of French fire

Map of French fire, 10 p.m., July 29, 2014. (click to enlarge)

The latest map of the French Fire revealed that it has burned about 5,600 acres in California’s Sierra National Forest south of the Mammoth Pool Reservoir.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team under the direction of Incident Commander David Cooper has been assigned. One of their priorities is to anchor the west flank in order to protect the residential areas at the Hogue Ranch and the Kinsman Flat area.


French Fire

French Fire. Undated photo by Burt Stalter.

A fire that was reported early Monday morning in California had already burned 3,600 acres as of Tuesday night. The French Fire is 15 miles east of Oakhurst, 5 miles west of Huntington Lake, and 36 miles northeast of Fresno. It is just across the drainage from last year’s Aspen Fire that blackened at 22,748 acres south of Mammoth Pool Reservoir about this same time last year.

Several summer homes and 12 Forest Service and private campgrounds have been evacuated and closed. Structures are being defended in the Hogue Ranch and Kinsman Flat areas.

Map of French Fire, July 29, 2014

Map of the French Fire, July 29, 2014. The red and yellow squares represent heat detected by a satellite on Monday and Tuesday. Their location can be accurate to within a mile. (click to enlarge)

The 2013 Aspen Fire (shown in the map below) was just east of where the French Fire is burning now (seen in the map above). Some of the same firelines that were used last year are being opened up and used again.

Map of Aspen Fire at 1 a.m. PDT, July 30, 2013

Map of Aspen Fire at 1 a.m. PDT, July 30, 2013


Wildfire briefing, July 29, 2014

Congress fails to act on wildfire funding

Dollar SignCongress still has not taken action on the President’s request for $615 million to be put into a fund to pay for wildfires. Having this money up front could prevent the federal land management agencies from being forced to rob money from unrelated accounts in order to pay firefighting bills. And with their 5-week vacation beginning on July 31, it is unlikely our elected representatives will do anything before the second week in September at the earliest.

Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said, “The [land management] agencies have a big pile of money already. I don’t think there’s an urgency on the money part.”

Looking for information about Washington fires

Greg Baron wrote an interesting piece for Emergency Management about trying to find information for a client who wanted to provide assistance with reconstruction related to the wildfires in Washington. After searching online, here is a portion of his findings. The rest are here:

1. There is no JIC [Joint Information Center]. The Washington fires are involving at least two counties (Okanagan and Chelan) and numerous small towns including Pateros, Carlton, Brewster, Twisp and Winthrop. But there is no one single source of up-to-date and reliable information. Complicating that is there are a couple of different major fires with different names: Carleton Complex (or Carlton Complex as there is no consistency) and Chiwaukum Complex (try and remember that name, let alone how to spell it).

2. The best source was this blog site: But there are some issues: Who is behind it? The information only said that it is published by “Carlton Complex.” How can we know if it is official (as it says) or reliable if you don’t identify yourself? The site itself is very nicely presented and of the many I looked at, easiest to find what you are looking for (except if you are looking to offer services). I really like the listing of other sources with links, the Twitter feed on the front page, the integration with other social media, the map, the rolling updates from news media — there’s lots to like here. I also really like that you can sign up for email updates; I just signed up so can’t say how they are doing with that but I think this is something that is often missed. I also really like the Spanish language emphasis, which is evident in several sites — a reality given the percentage of Hispanic population in this area.

3. InciWeb doesn’t cut it. InciWeb provided by the U.S. Forest Service has been a primary Web tool for the agency for fires, but I always hear of difficulties. I suspect the blog referred to above is run by the U.S. Forest Service and may be to replace InciWeb as there is counter-linking.

Cost of Washington wildfires

Officials in Washington estimate that the cost of suppressing wildfires in their state so far this year as been $50 million. About half of that went to the Carlton Complex fire, at a cost of over $23 million. These figures do not include loss of property or damage to infrastructure. The Carlton Complex burned about 300 homes and heavily damaged the power grid in the Methow Valley.

Public service announcements featuring Disney’s movie, Planes: Fire & Rescue

Planes and Smokey

Disney is joining the Ad Council, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters  to launch a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring scenes and characters from Disneytoon Studios’ animated film Planes: Fire & Rescue. The PSAs are an extension of the Wildfire Prevention PSA campaign, featuring the iconic Smokey Bear, who celebrates his 70th birthday this summer. For more information on Smokey Bear and the Wildfire Prevention campaign visit: