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+

Tasmania fire requires evacuations

map fire George Town, Tasmania

The red dots represent heat produced by a fire in northern Tasmania east of George Town, March 4, 2015.

A 1,700-acre wildfire in northern Tasmania, an island state south of the Australian mainland, forced dozens of residents to evacuate Wednesday afternoon, local time. The fire started Tuesday afternoon during strong winds and was still burning actively on Wednesday, prompting firefighters to call for Bomber 390 (aka Tanker 131), the C-130H air tanker that has been stationed across the Bass Strait at Avalon, Victoria during the down under summer. This map shows the approximate location of the drop made by the air tanker east of George Town, Tasmania.

Authorities said on Wednesday the fire was expected to flare up again on Thursday, when winds are expected to pick up.

‘This fire will be difficult to control,’ the Tasmania Fire Service said in a statement. ‘Burning embers, falling on the township of Lefroy will threaten (homes) before the main fire.’

flight path of Tanker 131

The flight path of Tanker 131 to and from a fire in Tasmania. Down under it is known as Bomber 390.


Fires force 500 to evacuate in South Africa

Muizenberg Fire in South Africa

Muizenberg Fire in South Africa Tuesday night. Photo by Clint Sutton.

About 500 people were forced to evacuate as fires near Cape Town, South Africa burned for a fourth day on Wednesday. Firefighters said a small amount of rain did not have any significant effect on the 12,000-acre blaze that started on March 1. There are no reported fatalities, but 52 people from an old-age home had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Homes, offices, historic wine farms and a hotel lodge were damaged or destroyed.

An excerpt from an article at Blolomberg:

While some fires have been contained, they continue to burn in the Lakeside, Constantia Valley and Clovelly areas and are expected to take until the end of the week to extinguish, according to city officials and Working on Fire, the national fire management agency. Six helicopters and two planes dumped 2.2 million liters (580,000 gallons) of water in more than 2,000 drops, helping to stop the spread of flames in areas inaccessible to fire-fighting crews and their vehicles. Helicopters were grounded in the late afternoon on Wednesday due to strong wind and poor visibility.

An excerpt from an article at News24:

[Wednesday] morning, the City of Cape Town’s Fire Safety Division conducted a survey to determine exactly how many properties have been affected since the fire started in the early hours of Sunday 1 March 2015 above Boyes Drive in Muizenberg.

Staff have confirmed that 13 properties have been affected, including the Tintswalo Lodge at the foot of Chapman’s Peak. Three of the properties have been completely destroyed: two in Constantia and one in Noordhoek.

The video below shows a pretty cool fire whirl. I would not call it a “fire tornado”, or “firenado”, as some are. THIS is a firenado.

Cape Town Fires Cape Town Fires

Map fires near Cape Town, South Africa

Map showing heat produced by wildfires near Cape Town, South Africa March 3, 2015

The six photos below were taken by Clint Sutton on Tuesday. Thanks Clint.

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Former firefighter sues fire truck manufacturers for hearing loss

From the New York Post:

A former FDNY firefighter is suing several fire truck manufacturers for $150,000, claiming he’s suffered permanent, “irreversible” hearing loss because the sirens in the engines he rode were too loud.

Curtis O’Steen, who served from 1966 to 1981, said the companies sold trucks and engines that were in “defective condition” and didn’t protect firefighters from the shrill sirens.

“The crew compartments of the vehicles lacked sufficient sound insulation or other noise dampening measures that would lower the intense noise,” according to the recently filed Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.

O’Steen, who lives three hours north of New York City in Delaware County, is also suing company Federal Signal whose “Q-Siren” and “e-Q2B” sirens were used on the fire trucks.

UPDATED at 3:45 p.m. MST, March 3, 2015:

After having to remove two comments that violated our guidelines for comments, I feel compelled to add to this post.

I have no idea if the firefighter suffered a degradation in his hearing caused by sirens. Anyone can sue almost anyone for almost anything. And if they choose to use the court system, it does not mean they will win their suit.

However, it is a fact that some sirens produce noise levels that exceed the limits issued by OSHA and the NFPA. Examples of similar issues about sirens are here, here, and here.


Five homes burn and one firefighter injured in South Africa fire

wildfire Cape Town

Fire near Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Clint Sutton.

Firefighters in South Africa are battling 14 wildfires. The most troublesome is on Table Mountain near Cape Town where one firefighter was injured when there was an explosion at a structure. “He is stable and will be released probably by Friday,” spokeswoman Liezl Moodie said of the firefighter injured at the beach lodge.

About 150 firefighters are working to bring the fire under control, made worse by sweltering summer temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The provincial government is planning to bring in 250 additional firefighters from other parts of the country, the South African Press Association reported.

wildfire Cape Town

Fire near Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Clint Sutton.

wildfire Cape Town

Fire near Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Clint Sutton.

Clint Sutton, a South African resident who took the three photos above, described the current situation:

We are having some extreme fires on the mountains around here! Started yesterday morning, and now has spread over miles. Over 300 firefighters trying to control them, unfortunately they are spread out in too many areas. Looked like they got it under control, but now some have jumped fire breaks and roads. Houses are too close to survive this. People being evacuated from old age home on the mountain, some of it already burnt down. I used to ride in this forest in the pic. It has huge pine trees, and now the fire has jumped to it! Don’ t know how they’re going to stop it now. Roads are closed everywhere! This is very serious!

Very strong winds last night have made it worse. Wind dropped today, thank goodness!

map Cape Town wildfires

Map, with red dots representing heat detected by a satellite, indicating the location of wildfires south of Cape Town, South Africa.

More photos of the fires.

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Paul Cerda receives Lead by Example Award

Paul Cerda Lead by Example award

Paul Cerda, center, receives the Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. On the left is Mike Lewelling. Jim McMahill is on the right.

Congratulations to Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew Superintendent Paul Cerda, one of the recipients of the 2014 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for motivation and vision.

From wildlandfireleadership.blogspot.com/:

Paul was recognized for boldly leading with inspired vision and clear intent. His efforts to lead the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew to Type 1 Wildland Fire Module status shows his ability to innovate, communicate, and influence change. This bold effort to diversify for the betterment of the wildland fire service took insight and courage.

As an advocate for leadership development, Paul embodies the values of duty, respect and integrity. His vision, motivational ability, and innovative methods to “build the team” demonstrates true passion for his people and those he serves. Paul has not only created depth within his own organization but also strengthened the entire service through your positive influence.