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+

Throwback Thursday

Between August 24 and 30, 2008, these were some of the topics we covered on Wildfire Today:

Redding fire

An air tanker drops on a fire in Redding, California near the Sacramento River

A vegetation fire in Redding, California burned 130 acres and caused evacuations near the Sacramento River.

–In advance of the approaching Hurricane Gustav, predicted to hit land near New Orleans, three National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) teams and one National Park Service All Hazard team were prepositioned in Dallas, Atlanta, and Jacksonville.

–The San Francisco Fire Department used jet skis to transport hose from their fire boat to Yerba Buena Island where a fire was burning in an area with difficult access. Yerba Buena Island is in San Francisco Bay near the Bay Bridge.

–A Single Engine Air Tanker crashed in northwest Colorado 20 miles northwest of Meeker. The pilot walked away with minor injuries.

–You might be in a redneck volunteer fire department if…

  • Your department has ever had two emergency vehicles pulled over for drag racing on the way to the scene.
  • You have naked lady mud flaps on your pumper.
  • Your firehouse has wheels.
  • You’ve ever gotten back and found out you locked yourselves out of the firehouse.
  • You’ve ever been toned out on an outhouse fire.
  • That outhouse fire was with entrapment.
  • You’ve ever let a person’s house burn down because they wouldn’t let you hunt on their land.
  • At least one vehicle in the firehouse still has decorations on it from the Halloween Parade and it’s January.
  • Your personal vehicle has more lights on it than your house has lights in it.
  • You don’t own a Dalmation, but you do have a coon dog named Sparky.
  • You’ve ever walked through a christmas display and came up with more than 3 new ideas for a light scheme for your truck.
  • Your rescue truck can smoke the tires.
  • Your department’s name is misspelled on the equipment.
  • Your engine had to be towed in the last Christmas Parade.
  • Dispatch can’t mention your name without laughing.
  • The local news crew won’t put your department on TV because you embarassed them last time.
  • You’ve ever referred to a light bar as sexy.
  • Your defib consists of a pair of jumper cables, a marine battery, and a fish finder.
  • You’ve ever taken a girl on a date in a pumper.
  • Your pumper has been on fire more times than it has been to a fire.
  • Your pumper smokes more than the house fire.
  • The only time the trucks leave the station is on bingo night.

A firefighter life-flighted to hospital after engine rollover in Oregon

A firefighter was transported by ambulance and then by a life flight helicopter to a hospital after an engine rollover in Oregon on July 18, 2014. According to the preliminary “24-Hour Report”, the Warm Springs Tribal engine with two on board was en route to the 73 Fire on an initial attack response. The other firefighter was transported to a hospital and released after an evaluation.

The “24-Hour Report” was posted on the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center almost 200 hours after the accident.

The entire one-page report: Warm Springs Engine MVA 24-Hour Report


Lightning ignites fire in palm tree farm

Borrego Springs Fire

“Lone Ranger” sent us a report about a rarely seen vegetation fire that occurred August 21 in Borrego Springs, a desert community 50 miles northeast of San Diego, California.


“It’s a very rare occasion that we get a wildfire anywhere near the valley floor let alone, on it. An intense lightning storm, August 21 mid-morning, gave OV-10 Air Attack 330, and S2-T Tankers T-70 and T-71 out of Ramona Air Attack Base an opportunity to pay Borrego Springs a visit.

One strike ignited an old stand of very tall fan palms at a large palm tree farm. From my property 3 miles away the huge flames and dark column of smoke left no doubt that it was a grove of palm trees. The skirt of dead fronds that adorns the trunk of a fan palm below the green canopy can consist of many tens of very dry and incredibly flammable fronds.
Borrego Springs Fire

Well under 10 acres in the end, this was a compact but intense wildfire warranting a mutual aid response perhaps even before Borrego Springs Fire Department arrived on scene after a 6 or 7 minute drive from their station.

Response included San Diego County Fire, CalFire, San Diego County Sheriff water dropping helicopters, Cleveland NF and, of course, Ramona AA. T-70 and T-71 flew two sorties. The first was split drops and the second was full load drops. It was a short-lived air show but a good air show just the same.

Borrego Springs Fire

It’s amazing that the fire confined itself/was confined to the narrow stand of very tall palms less than 150 feet wide and maybe 1000 feet long while literally 12 feet away to the north and running the length of the fire are about 225 acres of hundreds of 10-20 foot tall densely planted fan palms. There were remains of fire brands scattered throughout.”
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Montana Fire Chief dies one month after vehicle accident

Dave Anderson, a volunteer Fire Chief in Fort Shaw, Montana died Monday, a month after he was injured in a traffic accident. Cascade County Deputy Coroner Jason Boyd said the Chief died as a result of injuries suffered in the crash, along with cardiac complications. The Montana Highway Patrol said he was driving a water tender on U.S. Highway 89 on July 22 when his vehicle collided with a brush truck that was making a U-turn because the driver had missed a turnoff.

On June 19 another Montana firefighter and a family of five was killed when the fire engine driven by Three Forks Fire Chief Todd Rummel experienced a mechanical problem that locked up one of the wheels, causing the truck to veer into the path of the oncoming pickup. Investigators determined that Chief Rummel died of smoke inhalation while unconscious. Matthew Boegli, Crystal Ross and their three young children died of blunt-force trauma on impact. The Chief was driving back to Three Forks at 55 mph while returning from Helena where the truck had been undergoing repairs to its water system.

Our sincere condolences go out to the families.


Video of of the Carlton Complex of fires in Washington

Carlton Complex, Methow Fires. from BROTHERDOUG on Vimeo.

Doug Irvine describes this beautifully shot video:

I was recently in the Methow Valley on a personal project, documenting the Carlton Complex Fire. The Valley is my home and where the towns of Twisp, Winthrop, Carlton, and the like, are located. The night I drove in to begin filming the night skies of the Carlton Complex, the Rising Eagle Fire had just broken out. This particular fire was close to home, you might say. That’s the road my family named back in the 80′s. Rising Eagle Road is where I grew up;its my old back yard. That hill was my brother’s and my playground, a place of wonderment, motorbiking, guns, army, snowmobiles, camping, you name it… valley life. I crossed into the blackness, smoldering fires and ash about 4am to walk my old trails and see what had become of my old friend, the hill. I hope my documentation of the Carlton Complex and surrounding Methow fires inspires and moves you in some way. -Doug Irvine


National Guard promotes their firefighting activity

The National Guard has released another video promoting the assistance they provided to the firefighting efforts in California. Earlier this morning they Tweeted about still another video that featured their helicopters and MAFFS air tankers, but within a couple of hours it became inaccessible, marked “private”. Maybe it was pulled because every time it showed a MAFFS air tanker dropping water, undoubtedly filmed during pre-season training, it was described as dropping retardant.