BLM firefighter recognized as hero for saving two girls from drowning

Justin Hanley

Sisters Chava (left) and Shoshana Berry (center) were on hand to make the presentation of the Carnegie Medal to Justin Hanley (right) the evening of Dec. 13.

A Bureau of Land Management wildland firefighter employed at the Miles City, Montana Field Office was recently awarded the Carnegie Medal for Heroism for saving two young girls from drowning in the Yellowstone River.

Justin Lowell Hanley saved Chava L. and Shoshana L. Berry from drowning near Miles City, Montana, August 4, 2013. Sisters Chava, 14, and Shoshana, 10, were wading in the Yellowstone River along the bank when the current pulled them into the deeper water of the river’s channel and carried them downstream. Mr. Hanley, 43, a wildland firefighter who lived nearby, was alerted. He responded to the scene and saw the girls in the water several hundred feet away.

He ran along the bank to a point just beyond them and then partially disrobed and entered the water, despite knowing little about river conditions. As Hanley swam out, the strong channel current pulled on him, but he succeeded in reaching the girls at a point about 250 feet from the bank. Chava was inert and he held her against his side with one arm and then grasped Shoshana with that hand. Using his free arm, he stroked back toward the bank, the current continuing to take them downstream. En route, Hanley submerged repeatedly to touch the river’s bottom. He reached the bank with the girls at a point about 700 feet downstream from where he entered the river.

Firefighters had responded by then and tended to Chava, who had lost consciousness. Both girls were taken to the hospital, where Chava was detained for having aspirated water. They recovered. Hanley recovered from fatigue and abrasions.

Firefighters are sometimes called heroes by the public for what I consider just doing their jobs. But what Justin Hanley did was far beyond the call of duty. My first real job was serving as a lifeguard, so I know that grasping two girls with one arm and swimming hundreds of feet back to shore in deep water while the current carried them downstream, is amazing.

Justin Hanley is truly a hero.

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A confluence of wildfire and art

The Fires of Change exhibition is a collaborative science and art partnership among the Southwest Fire Science Consortium, Flagstaff Arts Council, and the Landscape Conservation Initiative. The exhibition will open at the Coconino Center for the Arts in September 2015 during the Flagstaff Festival of Science. This film documents the workshop the artists attended at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to learn about fire management. For more information about the project, the partnership, and the artists involved, visit the Flagstaff Arts Council web site.

I am really curious about what will be created out of this very intriguing project. If it works out the way it possibly could, it should be a travelling exhibition, or, other areas could conduct similar initiatives.

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Wildfire briefing, December 18, 2014

Possible wildfire suppression scam

From the Rapid City Fire Department:

Scam Alert: Investigators for the RCPD would like to inform the public of a possible scam targeting local businesses. An individual has been soliciting donations for an organization called ‘Atta Katta Wildland Fire Suppression.’ The Rapid City Police Department has reason to believe that this organization is fraudulent. If you’ve been solicited for a donation to this organization, please contact Sgt. Warren Poches at 394.4134.

Moonlight fire scandal continues to grow

The accusations of prosecutorial abuse, fraud, and government coverups related to the 2007 Moonlight Fire in northern California are gathering more nationwide attention. Here is how an article by Kathleen Parker begins:

First there’s the spark, then the conflagration, followed by the litigation and then, surely, the movie. Call it “Moonlight Fire,” and prepare to suspend disbelief. The story is a doozy — a tale of corruption, prosecutorial abuse, alleged fraud upon the court, and possible government cover-ups in the service of power and greed. All the script needs is a Forest Service employee urinating on his bare feet in his lookout tower just as the fire was beginning.

What?!

This is what a real-life ranger discovered when she went to the tower to pick up a radio for repair. She also reported spotting a small glass pipe and smelling marijuana. As for the urinary exercise, the lookout said he was treating his athlete’s foot. But of course.

So goes one of the more colorful anecdotes surrounding the 2007 California wildfire that burned up to 65,000 acres — 45,000 of them on federal land — in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains…

Jonathan Keim also wrote about the debacle for the National Review.

Articles at Wildfire Today tagged Moonlight Fire.

Study on the Rim Fire recommends more interagency prescribed fires

Excerpts from an article a KSBW:

A fierce wildfire that scorched part of Yosemite National Park burned less intensely in places that had fires in recent years – a finding that researchers said Wednesday supports a belief that controlled burning often curtails extreme fires.

The U.S. Forest Service study focused on areas of the Rim Fire that burned 400 square miles in Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite’s backcountry and private timber land.

It was the largest fire in the recorded history of the Sierra Nevada. It destroyed 11 homes and cost more than $125 million to fight.

Areas hit by the Rim Fire within Yosemite had burned within 14 years and experienced less intense flames, said U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, which authored the study.

Researchers recommend that forestry agencies with shared borders and interests combine their efforts to conduct controlled burns during moderate weather conditions, giving them the best chance for to avoid massive high-intensity fires.

Night flying helicopters in southern California

An article at The Coast News reports on the two night-flying helicopters operated by the city of San Diego.

10-year high for people charged with lighting fires in Victoria

From The Age in Australia:

The number of charges for lighting fires on days of total fire ban or during bushfire danger periods has reached a 10-year high, as police crack down on the foolishness that has sparked destructive blazes since Black Saturday.

There were 227 charges for lighting a fire on a total fire ban day or in a fire danger period last year, an increase of more than 17 per cent compared to the previous year and more than five times the number recorded in 2010-11.

While most of the fires raging in Victoria this week are believed to have started because of lightning strikes, Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said some of the 350 blazes burning on Wednesday would have been caused by people ignoring the volatile conditions.

“It wouldn’t all be lightning. There would have been some foolish behaviour…

Homes burn in Victoria bushfire

Four homes burned in a bushfire in the Creighton’s Creek area of Victoria. State Control Centre spokesperson Leigh Miezis said 1,500 firefighters are currently battling the blaze.

The video below was filmed by Jacob Haddrill in Creightons Creek. He saved his cattle but his feed and fencing was damaged in the fire.

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Bear Mountain’s 2014 fire season

DC-10 dropping

DC-10 dropping. Screen capture from the 2014 Bear Mountain Hand Crew video.

This is the time of the year when we start seeing videos from wildland firefighters that show the highlights of their fire season. The latest entry is from the Bear Mountain Hand Crew in South Dakota. It has a few examples of excellent photography, including a retardant drop at 7:30 by Tanker 911, a DC-10. You may or may not appreciate the musical sound track in the first two-thirds of the video.

The crew also created a video from their 2013 fire season.

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Pile burning on the Inyo National Forest

pile burning Inyo National Forest

The Inyo National Forest in California posted some snapshots on their Facebook page this morning. Here is how they described them:

Sometimes, just getting to our burn piles is an adventure. Here are a handful of photos from both Reds Meadow and the Sawmill Piles. Crews plan to continue with ignitions on Reds Meadow today, weather and air quality conditions permitting.

pile burning Inyo National Forest

pile burning Inyo National Forest

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