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+

Two fires in Yosemite; one threatens structures

(UPDATED at 11:33 PDT, July 27, 2014)

We prepared the map of the El Portal Fire below based on data provided by the National Park Service. The thicker green line is the boundary of Yosemite National Park, with the park being on the right side, or east of the line.

Map of El Portal Fire, June 27, 2014

Map of El Portal Fire, June 27, 2014. Wildfire Today & NPS


(UPDATED at 10:54 a.m. PDT, July 27, 2014)

These photos of the El Portal Fire outside the entrance to Yosemite Valley were taken yesterday, July 26.

El Portal Fire

El Portal Fire as seen from Crane Flat Lookout, July 26, 2014.

El Portal Fire, July26, 2014.

El Portal Fire, July 26, 2014.


(UPDATED at 9:10 a.m. PDT, July 27, 2014)

El Portal Fire

El Portal Fire, July 26, 2014. NPS photo.

The El Portal Fire outside the entrance to Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park has grown to 2,100 acres, said Ashley Mayer, a spokesperson for the park. The fire is being fought by 400 personnel, and a Type 1 incident management team has been dispatched.

The communities of Foresta and Old El Portal have been evacuated.

Yosemite Valley from Turtleback

The view of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley was obscured by smoke, at 9:03 a.m. PDT, July 27, 2014. Half Dome and Yosemite Falls are also enveloped by smoke.

Big Oak Flat Road is closed between El Portal Road and Crane Flat, but Highway 140 remains open. (The information we received earlier from the National Park Service about the road being closed between Hetch Hetchy Dam and Crane Flat has been changed by the park.)

The El Portal Fire is burning on land administered by the NPS, U.S. Forest Service, and private land owners.
Continue reading


California: Sand Fire south of Placerville

(UPDATE at 8 a.m. PDT, July 27, 2014)

CAL FIRE is releasing very little detailed information about the Sand Fire near Placerville, California, but a few minutes ago they announced that the revised size of the fire is 3,800 acres (down from 4,000) and said it is 35 percent contained. The fire has burned 10 residences and 7 outbuildings.

The Sacramento Bee reported that Chris Anthony, A CAL FIRE spokesperson, said the fire was caused by a vehicle driving over dry vegetation.

We will post an updated map of the fire when it becomes available.


(UPDATE at 9:30 p.m. PDT, July 26, 2014)

CAL FIRE reported at 8:15 p.m. that the Sand Fire south of Placerville, California has grown to 4,000 acres with 20 percent containment. There is no change in the number of structures burned; five residences and seven outbuildings.

Resources working on the fire include 1,464 personnel, 149 engines, 45 hand crews, and 16 dozers.



(UPDATE at 7:43 p.m. PDT, July 26, 2014)

At 4:34 p.m. PDT CAL FIRE estimated the size of the Sand Fire south of Placerville at 3,000 acres with 20 percent containment.


(UPDATED at 4:25 p.m. PDT, July 26, 2014)

Map of Sand Fire at 2:14 p.m.,  July 26, 2014.

Map of Sand Fire at 2:14 p.m., July 26, 2014. (Click to see a larger version.)

The red icons on the map of the Sand Fire above represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:14 p.m. PDT, July 26, 2015. It shows significant growth on the east side, compared to the map below from about nine hours earlier. The yellow icons represent heat from Friday. The fire is putting up a large column of smoke visible from Sacramento. Air Attack has requested more air tankers of any type; with the numerous structures that are threatened and the ongoing evacuations, he is not particular at this time which type shows up. Firefighters are burning around some of the structures ahead of the fire to reduce the fuel available when the fire reaches them.


(Originally published at 2:29 p.m. PDT, July 26, 2014)

Map of Sand Fire

Map of the Sand Fire showing heat detected by a satellite at 3:15 a.m., July 26, 2014. We will update the map as more current information is available. (click to see a larger version)

The Sand Fire, 10 miles south of Placerville, California, required the evacuation of several dozen homes a few hours after it started at 4:30 Friday afternoon. The spread of the fire slowed down by sunset under an aggressive aerial assault, but picked up again during the night. As this is written at 2 p.m. PDT, spot fires are helping the fire spread toward structures. Air Attack has ordered a total of seven air tankers, including one of the DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers. Five strike teams of engines, with five engines each, were ordered earlier. The fire is 14 miles north of Jackson and 33 miles east of Sacramento. (See the map of the Sand Fire above.) At least 13 structures have burned, including 4 residences. CAL FIRE reported at 8 a.m. on Saturday that the fire had blackened 1,300 acres and they were calling it 20 percent contained. It is being fought by 672 personnel, 53 engines, 21 hand crews, and 9 dozers. The weather on Saturday is making it difficult for firefighters, with a prediction of 98 to 103 degrees, a relative humidity of 8 to 13 percent, and winds gusting up to 18 mph out of the west in the afternoon.


Firefighter injured by tree felled by another firefighter

A firefighter working on the Quaking Fire 40 miles southeast of Fredonia, Arizona was injured by a tree that was being felled by another firefighter on July 24. The firefighter was knocked to the ground and sustained injuries. Several EMTs evaluated, packaged, and arranged for transportation by a National Park Service helicopter to the South Rim Helibase in Grand Canyon National Park. From there a medivac helicopter took the firefighter to the Flagstaff Medical Center for evaluation.

The 273-acre Quaking Fire, reported on July 13, is not being totally suppressed, but is being managed for “protection and resource benefit objectives”.

At least three other fires are burning in the greater Grand Canyon area:

  • Sitgreaves Complex, 5 miles northwest of Parks, Arizona; 2,689 acres.
  • McRae Fire, 5 miles southeast of Tusayan, Arizona; 3,142 acres.
  • Kanabownits Fire, on the Walla Valley Peninsula on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, 270 acres.

The video below was shot on the Sitgreaves Complex July 21, 2014.



Alberta: Spreading Creek Fire

The Alberta department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development posted this video of the Spreading Creek fire. It includes scenes showing a briefing for firefighters, hose lays, sprinklers, fireline construction in heavy timber, helicopter drops, and single engine air tankers. It was uploaded to YouTube on June 11, 2014.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to JW.