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+

Another version of an animated wind map

Winydy map

Screen grab from Windyty map

In 2012 we wrote about an animated wind map at hint.fm which has lines that move in the direction of the wind, and the speed of the moving lines varies depending on the actual wind speed. Now another source, Windyty map, has developed a version that has additional features.  If you zoom in, borders, cities, and weather stations appear.  Overlays allow viewing of clouds, temperature, pressure and humidity.  Surface winds are shown by default, but winds at altitude can also be displayed.  A time slider allows the viewing of predicted conditions.

The hint.fm map seems to show the wind over land better than the the Windyty map, but it does not have the additional layers, or the predicted winds. These maps could be useful for wildland firefighters and pilots.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Robert.

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Bushfire threatens community near Perth, Australia

Whiteman Park Fire, Perth, Australia

In spite of these very impressive photos of a bushfire in Australia, the reports we have seen indicate that it started Sunday morning and had been knocked down but not contained by nightfall — no homes had been lost at that time. The fire was fought by several fire crews and water-dropping helicopters. It burned at least 140 hectares (346 acres) northeast of Perth in Western Australia.

Perth fire

Bushfire northeast of Perth in Western Australia. Photo by Cate White.

Whiteman Park Fire, Perth, Australia Whiteman Park Fire, Perth, Australia Whiteman Park Fire, Perth, Australia

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Washington DNR demotes their Resource Protection Manager

Below is an excerpt from an article at King5 in Washington state:

KING 5 News has learned that the [Washington] Department of Natural Resources has demoted the manager in charge of the controversial firefighting operations at this summer’s wildfires in Central Washington.

Albert Kassel’s removal as DNR’s Resource Protection manager “…reflects DNR’s current leadership needs within the agency,” spokesperson Sandra Kaiser said in a statement issued to KING 5 Friday.

DNR was roundly criticized for what Okanogan County leaders – and many citizens say – was a weak initial response to what became known as the Carlton Complex fires. Four fires merged into a firestorm that scorched more than a quarter million acres and destroyed 300 homes.

In its statement, DNR said that “(Kassel’s) change in position is not connected to any specific event or action.” Kaiser specifically denied that the demotion is due to Kassel’s handling of the Carlton Complex fires.

However, Kassel’s reassignment to a wildland fire investigator’s position will cost him $1,461 per month in salary. His monthly pay rate is now $6,205 per month…

 

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Bill approved by House includes funding for wildland fire

Dollar Sign(Originally published December 12, 2014; updated December 13, 2014)

On December 11 the House of Representatives passed a consolidated federal appropriations bill that if also passed by the Senate and signed by the President in its present form would fund most of the government for the remainder of this fiscal year that ends September 30, 2015.

The bill provides $3.53 billion for Interior Department and Forest Service wildland fire management activities, which is $223 million above the FY 2014 funding amount, meeting the 10‐year average.

It includes $65 million for “acquiring aircraft for the next-generation airtanker fleet” which “shall be suitable for contractor operation”. We have a call in to the Forest Service to find out what this is for exactly. It appears to be over and above what is normally appropriated for the contracting of air tankers, and may have something to do with management and retrofitting of the C-130Hs the agency is in the process of receiving from the Coast Guard. But those aircraft are not expected to be received until FY 2018. We would be surprised if the USFS plans to purchase additional air tankers. If our call to the USFS is returned, we will post an update here.

(UPDATE at 9:12 a.m. MST, December 13, 2014: Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson with the USFS, told us that their budget staff will not disclose how that $65 million will be spent until after Congress and the President pass and sign the bill.)

(UPDATE December 16, 2014: An article at Fire Aviation explores in much more detail how the Forest Service may spend the $65 million allocated for air tankers.)

Below are excerpts from the bill; the full text of which can be accessed here.

Forest Service
Page 745
WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT
For necessary expenses for forest fire presuppression
activities on National Forest System lands, for emergency
fire suppression on or adjacent to such lands or other
lands under fire protection agreement, hazardous fuels
management on or adjacent to such lands, emergency re-
habilitation of burned-over National Forest System lands
and water, and for State and volunteer fire assistance,
$2,333,298,000, to remain available until expended: …
[…]
Page 746
…Provided further, That of the
funds provided, $361,749,000 is for hazardous fuels man-
agement activities, $19,795,000 is for research activities
and to make competitive research grants pursuant to the
Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research
Act, (16 U.S.C. 1641 et seq.), $78,000,000 is for State
fire assistance, and $13,000,000 is for volunteer fire as-
sistance under section 10 of the Cooperative Forestry As-
sistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2106): …
Page 747
…Provided further, That, of the funds provided, $65,000,000
shall be available for the purpose of acquiring aircraft for
the next-generation airtanker fleet to enhance firefighting
mobility, effectiveness, efficiency, and safety, and such air-
craft shall be suitable for contractor operation over the
terrain and forested-ecosystems characteristic of National
forest System lands, as determined by the Chief of the
Forest Service:
Page 749
FLAME WILDFIRE SUPPRESSION RESERVE FUND
(INCLUDING TRANSFERS OF FUNDS)
For necessary expenses for large fire suppression
operations of the Department of Agriculture and as a reserve
fund for suppression and Federal emergency response
activities, $303,060,000, to remain available until expended:
Provided, That such amounts are only available for trans-
fer to the ‘‘Wildland Fire Management’’ account following
a declaration by the Secretary in accordance with section
502 of the FLAME Act of 2009 (43 U.S.C. 1748a)…

Department of the Interior
Page 706-707
DEPARTMENT-WIDE PROGRAMS
WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT
(INCLUDING TRANSFERS OF FUNDS)
For necessary expenses for fire preparedness, fire
suppression operations, fire science and research, emer-
gency rehabilitation, hazardous fuels management activi-
ties, and rural fire assistance by the Department of the
Interior, $804,779,000, to remain available until
expended, of which not to exceed $6,127,000 shall be for
the renovation or construction of fire facilities: Provided,
That such funds are also available for repayment of
advances to other appropriation accounts from which funds
were previously transferred for such purposes: Provided
further, That of the funds provided $164,000,000 is for
hazardous fuels management activities, of which
$10,000,000 is for resilient landscapes activities: Provided
further, That of the funds provided $18,035,000 is for
burned area rehabilitation:..
Page 710
FLAME WILDFIRE SUPPRESSION RESERVE FUND
(INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)
For necessary expenses for large fire suppression
operations of the Department of the Interior and as a
reserve fund for suppression and Federal emergency
response activities, $92,000,000, to remain available until
expended: Provided, That such amounts are only available
for transfer to the ‘‘Wildland Fire Management’’ account
following a declaration by the Secretary in accordance
with section 502 of the FLAME Act of 2009 (43 U.S.C.
1748a).

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