Pyramid Butte fire serious accident preliminary report

A crewmember on the Warm Springs Hot Shot Crew was seriously injured by a large falling rock while working on the Pyramid Butte fire in Oregon September 4, 2010. The complete Preliminary Report is HERE, but an excerpt is below.

This incident reminds us of the Deer Park fire serious injury and the Andrew Palmer fatality. The report for the Deer Park incident had this suggestion:

Agency aircraft are best suited to deal with accidents that occur on the fireline. More agency rotor-wing aircraft need to be equipped with the capability to perform extractions for medical emergencies. All methods of remote extraction should be evaluated and a standardized system of operation should be established. Our reliance on military and lifeflight helicopters to extract our most serious injuries needs to be reduced. These helicopters are not always available, and extraction capable agency helicopters would alleviate communication issues and provide more timely patient care.

As we said on August 27:

The U. S. Coast Guard and Los Angeles County Fire Department do this on a regular basis. Here are some links showing them in action:

LA County
Coast Guard


(below is an excerpt from the Pyramid Butte fire accident report)

Continue reading “Pyramid Butte fire serious accident preliminary report”

Bobcat starts fire

Yes, that’s right. According to fire investigators in Ventura County, California, a bobcat climbed a power pole, was electrocuted, fell to the ground and started a grass fire. The 75 firefighters that responded put it out after it burned five acres near Piru at 3 a.m on Monday.

We have added this to our animal-arson series.

Update and map of the Fourmile fire near Boulder, Sept. 8

UPDATE @ 8:00 p.m., Sept. 8

The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center had the following update about the Fourmile fire at 7:20 p.m. today:

Four Mile Canyon Fire Update: (CO-BLX) , 5 miles west of downtown Boulder, CO. Single tree torching with creeping in Douglas-fir, Ponderosa pine and grass was observed today. Transition expected from Type 2 (Richardson) to Type 1 (Thomas) will occur at 1800 Tomorrow. Red flag predicted for tomorrow for high winds and low humidity. Currently at 6,365 acres, 10% contained.


UPDATE @ 6:15 p.m., Sept. 8

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has provided a list of 140 structures that have been destroyed by the Fourmile Canyon wildfire and another 24 that have been damaged by the fire.


UPDATE @ 4:00 p.m., Sept. 8

My favorite quote so far about the Fourmile fire is from an article today at the Daily Camera:

The fire burned in on itself, shrinking its overall size to 6,168 acres.

We need to figure out how to harness that technology or phenomenon, whatever it is, but it might put firefighters out of a job.

By the way, some of the comments on that article are interesting.

Boulder County has posted a new map of the fire.


Fourmile fire air tanker
Air tanker making a drop on the Fourmile fire, Sept. 6, 2010. Photo: InciWeb

UPDATE @ 1:05 p.m., Sept. 8

Adam K. plotted the locations of the structures that have been reported by the Boulder Office of Emergency Management as having burned as of 9:42 p.m. on September 7. The information is preliminary and incomplete, and Wildfire Today assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the data. Here is how the list of addresses with burned structures was described by the Boulder OEM:

9:42 p.m. – Sept. 7, 2010 – The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office is providing this information to residents who have been affected by the fire. The addresses listed below are of houses that the Sheriff’s Office has identified as destroyed by the Fourmile Canyon Fire. These addresses were determined from only 5-10% of the burned area, as that is the only area that could be safely surveyed today. Some parts of the burned area are more densely populated than others. In most cases, Sheriff’s deputies were able to identify addresses by the homes’ mailboxes, some of which are grouped with other mailboxes, so while we intend this to be an accurate list of addresses, we are working under difficult conditions in determining the actual address of each home.

We will continue to post more information as it becomes available following additional investigative work on Wednesday.

Fourmile fire preliminary map of burned structures
An overview map.

More detailed maps:

West side

Northeast side

Center area

Thanks Adam.

There is a report that nine volunteer firefighters lost their homes in the fire.


Continue reading “Update and map of the Fourmile fire near Boulder, Sept. 8”

18-vehicle accident caused by smoke from vegetation fire

In southern Missouri on Monday a farmer was burning some trash when the fire escaped and burned a field. Smoke from the wildfire compromised visibility on the nearby US Highway 60 eight miles east of Dexter. Chain reaction accidents occurred involving 18 vehicles, resulting in about 26 being injured. (Correction: an early report about the accident said one person was killed, but apparently that was incorrect.)

More information.

Here is a list of the vehicles and the people that were injured.

Thanks Bruce

Update and map of Fourmile fire near Boulder, Sept. 7

UPDATE @ 10:50 p.m., Sept. 7

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management, after surveying 5-10% of the burned area, has identified 53 houses that have been destroyed by the Fourmile fire. Due to the fire activity, they were not able to collect data in other areas.

ABC7 has information about the early stages of the fire, including transcripts from radio conversations and a report that a vehicle colliding with a propane tank may have started the fire.

At 8 p.m. the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center reported:

Type 1 Incident Management Team, Thomas in briefing at 1000 on 09/08. 6,128 acres. IR [fixed-wing Infrared] flight tonight to determine size. Counting of structures lost will begin tomorrow. 20 Subdivisions west of Boulder have been evacuated and 3 major county roads are closed. Fire is growing around the entire perimeter. Crowning, running, and spotting fire behavior has been observed.

In fact, one of the US Forest Service infrared aircraft, a Super King Air 200 twin-turboprop, N149Z, has already flown over the Fourmile fire, and it looks like the Cow fire in Rocky Mountain National Park as well. The map below shows the aircraft’s flight path as it arrived into the area from Boise, flew over the two fires, possibly dodged some rain or thunderstorms, and landed at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport at 8:08 p.m. It has the capability to downlink the digital imagery wirelessly via Aircell while airborne. Then an Infrared Interpreter retrieves the files from a server, analyzes the data, produces a map showing the heat sources, draws an accurate fire perimeter, and calculates the acreage of the fire.

So, within a matter of hours we should have an accurate fire perimeter and acreage.

Infrared flight track


UPDATE @ 6:15 p.m., Sept. 7

At a 4 p.m. press briefing today fire officials said that 7,100 acres had burned (later changed to 6,168 acres at the InciWeb site) and the fire had forced the evacuation of 3,000 residents. An inversion in the morning prevented air tankers from taking off, but later in the day eight air tankers had dropped 90,000 gallons of fire retardant by the time of the briefing. Three helicopters are also working on the fire. About 2,000 residences are without electricity in the fire area. With about half of the burned area being surveyed, they have identified 63 structures that have burned.

Here is a map produced today by Boulder County showing the perimeter and the evacuation area for the Fourmile fire. (We added the notes in red at the top.) The original higher resolution version of the map is HERE.

Click the map to enlarge it.

Fourmile fire evacuation and perimeter

Another map of the fire perimeter can be found at the InciWeb site.


UPDATE @ 5:00 p.m., Sept. 7

Here are some updated maps of the Fourmile fire near Boulder, Colorado.

Fourmile fire map perimeter
The perimeter of the Fourmile fire, as of 6:00 a.m. Sept. 7, 2010. Click to enlarge.
Fourmile fire map
Map of the Fourmile fire, showing heat detected by satellites at 1:05 p.m. on Sept. 7, 2010. The yellow line with the cross-hatching is the perimeter as mapped by firefighters today.

HERE is a link to a topographic map showing the fire perimeter as of noon today, but it is difficult to make out much detail.

Continue reading “Update and map of Fourmile fire near Boulder, Sept. 7”

Cow Creek fire in Rocky Mtn. National Park, contained 2 months ago, flares up

The Cow Creek fire in Rocky Mountain National Park, was contained but not controlled two months ago on July 8. But beginning September 1, smoke was again seen coming from the remote western side of the fire. And on September 6, the same wind that pushed the Fourmile fire through over 3,000 acres in six hours, fanned the Cow fire back to life again.  The MODIS satellite detected a significant amount of heat coming from the Cow fire area when it passed over the area Monday afternoon, September 6. The Cow Creek fire is about 4 miles west of Glen Haven, and about 6 miles north of Estes Park.

It is possible that the heat the satellite detected was contained within the perimeter, and it is not necessarily spreading and consuming additional acres. However, there is quite a bit of heat coming from it — for a fire that was put on the back burner, so to speak, two months ago.

Cow and Fourmile fires, 9-6-2010
Cow Creek and Fourmile fires, mapped from heat detected by the MODIS satellite during the afternoon of 9-6-2010

Firefighters expected in July when they contained the Cow Creek fire by constructing a fire line around the northeast, east, and south sides of it that the fire would smolder the rest of the summer, and would only be completely extinguished by heavy winter snows. They also realized that there was some potential for the fire to spread to the west in the West Creek drainage.