California: Hathaway Fire burns into San Gorgonio Wilderness

(UPDATE at 11:09 a.m. PT, June 11, 2013)

Map of Hathaway Fire, June 11

Map of Hathaway Fire, looking east, 2:35 a.m. PT, June 11, 2013 (click to enlarge)

The Hathaway Fire has grown to 1,954 acres and is 25 percent contained, according to information released by Incident Commander Don Garwood’s Incident Management Team.

As you can see in the above map of the Hathaway fire, which shows heat detected by a satellite, the fire has gone over the hill, as firefighters say, so we had to turn the 3-D image around, looking to the east now. Cabezon and Banning, along Interstate 10, are on the right, south of the fire.

It is burning in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, an area with steep, rocky cliffs. The fire has reached Raywood Flats which is a narrows-type area between Mill Creek and Water Canyons on the west and the huge, Whitewater River watershed on the east.

The fire has exhibited extreme fire behavior. According to the U.S. Forest Service, there is continued potential for large fire growth into the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Emphasis today is on continuing direct fire line construction, continue air operations until dusk, and night air attack flying. The Hathaway Incident Command Post has been established at Noble Creek Park in Beaumont, CA.

The firefighting resources working on the fire include:

  • 1,018 personnel
  • 40 hand crews
  • 35 engines
  • 13 water tenders
  • 11 dozers
  • 6 air tankers
  • 10 helicopters

Predicted weather, according to information released by the IMTeam: wind speeds today will be 25 mph from the West. Temperature 87. Humidity 15%. High pressure will begin to rebuild in the area today, bringing warmer temperatures to the area.

Monday night the IMTeam put in a late request that the USFS fixed wing aircraft, which images fires at night with infrared equipment, map the fire, however the infrared ship was booked solid with the Powerhouse fire that has been quiet for several days as well as four fires in New Mexico. The USFS has two infrared aircraft, but only one at a time has been mapping fires so far this year.

We posted some photos that Chief John Hawkins took of the fire two hours after the fire fire started.

****

(UPDATE at 6:35 p.m. PT, June 10, 2013)

The U.S. Forest Service says the Hathaway Fire has burned 1,650 acres and is 25 percent contained.

The map below, which has been sent to many U.S. Forest Service employees, is a computer model projection of the spread of the Hathaway Fire 80 miles east of Los Angeles over the next seven days. While it may be startling, keep in mind there are many caveats, including but not limited to:

  • It uses a 1,354 acre estimated perimeter as the ignition file.
  • Size and location may not be accurate.
  • No barrier files were used.
  • Anticipate fire spread burning into the low probability surfaces early in the 7 day analysis period due to drought, critically low live and dead fuel moistures and forecasted gusty W-SW winds.
  • Model assumes no suppression action.
  • Model outputs represent the probability of each 120 meter pixel burning but NOT the probability of fire extent.

Again, it is very important to consider that the model assumes that no firefighters on the ground or the air will take any suppression action on the fire. And it assumes there are no barriers, such as surface streets or interstate highways.

The concentric circles of color represent the probability that the fire will reach those areas, with no suppression action and the other caveats. For example there is a 40 to 59 percent chance the fire will reach out into the yellow area, and only a 0.2 to 4.9 percent that it will reach the blue area.

Click the image below to see a larger version.

Hathaway_Fire_FSPRO_6-9-2013, partial

I added the labels for Cabezon and Beaumont. The image above is part of the original which is a large 1.6MB .pdf document that contains much more information — you can download that file HERE.

The projection was created with FSPro (Fire Spread Probability), which is a spatial model that calculates the probability of fire spread from a current fire perimeter or ignition point for a specified time period. Inputs to the application are similar to the established FARSITE application, surface fuel model, aspect, elevation, slope, and canopy characteristics. These landscape characteristics are used in conjunction with historical Energy Release Component (ERC) and wind data from a representative remote automated weather station (RAWS) as key model inputs.

While there WILL of course be suppression action that occurs on the fire, it will be conducted by a federal wildland firefighting force (with interagency assistance) that is 19 percent smaller than it was two years ago, as a result of Congress and the President reducing the budget for wildland fire management.

****

(UPDATE at 9:40 a.m. PT, June 10, 2013)

Map of Hathaway Fire, 3:30 a.m. PT, June 10, 2013

Map of Hathaway Fire showing approximate location of heat detected by a satellite at 3:30 a.m. PT, June 10, 2013

The map of the Hathaway Fire above shows the location of heat detected by a satellite at 3:30 a.m. PT Monday. It appears to have grown significantly from the previous map below. At 8 p.m. Sunday the U.S. Forest Service described it as 1,300 acres.

The fire is burning between 4,000 and 7,000 feet, so the weather observations at the nearest Remote Automatic Weather Station (RAWS) at Cabazon, which is at 2,155 feet (shown on the map at the green wind barb), are not representative of conditions at the fire, but at 9:43 a.m. PT today Cabazon recorded a temperature of 74 degrees, 44 percent relative humidity (it was 81 percent an hour earlier), and a WNW wind of 15 mph gusting to 27 mph.

The view of the fire in the middle of the image on the live web cam at High Point (click on the image to zoom in) shows the wind pushing the smoke close to the ground.

Below is information from the USFS:

…It is currently burning in steep, rugged terrain in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Many of the fuels burning have been impacted by drought and bark beetle kill. Extreme fire behavior has been observed, and is expected again today. There is continued potential for large fire growth into the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Emphasis today is on continuing direct fire line construction to establish contingency lines, establish helispots, and spike camps. The Hathway Incident Command Post has been established at Noble Creek Park in Beaumont, CA. Motorists should be aware of increased fire-related traffic along I-10 and Noble Creek Parkway.

The San Gregornio Wilderness area remains open, except for Vivian Creek Trail. However, other trails may be impacted by smoke. Smoke may create decreased visability and increased health problems for people with respiratory diseases.

A dry Low Pressure system is moving in from the coast today. A High Pressure system will rebuild in the area Tuesday and Wednesday bringing high winds, lower humidities, and poor humidity recovery at night.

****

(Originally published at 9:14 p.m. PT, June 9, 2013)

Map of Hathaway Fire

Map of Hathaway Fire, showing heat detected by a satellite at 1:51 p.m. PT, June 9, 2013

A new wildfire that has significant potential started just before noon Sunday near Potrero Canyon 80 miles east of Los Angeles. The map of the Hathaway Fire above shows the approximate location of heat detected by a satellite at 1:51 p.m. PT today (two hours after it started), about five miles north of Banning and Cabazon, California.

The U.S. Forest Service reported at about 8 p.m. that it had burned 1,300 acres and was 5 percent contained. No structures are currently threatened nor are any evacuations underway, they said, in spite of the fact that a large smoke column from the rapidly spreading fire can be seen from a large portion of southern California.

Hathaway Fire

Hathaway Fire, June 9, 2013. USFS photo.

It began on the Morongo Indian Reservation and spread toward the San Bernardino National Forest and the San Gorgonio Wilderness. As it becomes established in the Wilderness the lack of access and logistics will be significant challenges for firefighters.

One of the few live cameras with a view into the area is one on High Point, which is about 48 miles south. The fire can be seen right in the center of the camera’s image. Click on it to zoom in. Ben’s Weather Cam may also have occasional views of the fire, or at least the smoke column.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team with Don Garwood as Incident Commander has been ordered.

The NWS spot weather forecast for the fire area on Monday calls for a high of 78 degrees, a relative humidity of 20 percent, and west to west-southwest winds at 5 to 10 mph with gusts to 20 to 25 mph, stronger on the ridgetops. (More weather forecast information for the area.)

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

One thought on “California: Hathaway Fire burns into San Gorgonio Wilderness

  1. Thanks for all this information. As an avid hiker and backpacker in SoCal I go through the waiting game every year and when the wildfires begin I just hold my breath. This is a remarkably beautiful area that is under siege and I’m hoping hard for the weather to cooperate and the guys to knock this down.
    The word going around is that the blaze was ignited by people with guns shooting exploding targets. How does something like that happen? How can people be so freaking stupid?

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