Wind event expected to fan 270 fires in B.C.

Firefighters in British Columbia are expecting a wind event today that could cause some of the 270 fires currently burning to get up and run.


With high winds Thursday expected to fan more than 270 wildfires burning across B.C., fire officials are bracing for another day of difficult conditions.

Residents have been asked to stay out of the B.C. backcountry and hundreds of homes have already been evacuated, as a cold front is expected to deliver high winds that could worsen the situation.

“Strong winds will fuel existing fires and lightning may spark new fires. In addition, strong winds may prevent air operations and heavy smoke may impair the ability of ground crews to respond,” said a statement from the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch website.

Officials will be keeping a close eye Thursday on the weather in an area south of Prince George, near Williams Lake, said Stephen Waugh, emergency program co-ordinator for the Central Coast Regional District.

“The hardest hit areas seem to be in the Cariboo Chilcotin region where there were extreme fires burning before these winds arrived. So the morning will tell us how things are looking in that region,” Waugh told CTV’s Canada AM from Bella Coola.

The latest evacuation orders affect residents near Meldrum Creek, Meldrum East Fraser, Soda Creek/Williams Lake, McLeese Lake and Westwick Lakes, according to a statement posted Wednesday on the district’s website.

Waugh said hot, dry weather and high winds are a bad mix.

“Our forest minister described it as perfect firestorm conditions,” he said. “When you have fires burning aggressively already and then have high winds on top of them it really does make things difficult for fire crews, and many were pulled off yesterday for safety reasons.”

Thanks Dick

USFS engine in Rapid City

USFS engineToday in the Menards parking lot in Rapid City, SD I spotted this U.S. Forest Service engine (or water tender?) from the Black Hills National Forest. It appears to have been made by Ameri-Tech in Casper, Wyoming. You don’t see a lot of Federal agency wildland engines this large, east of the west coast states. Mostly we see (too many) little Type 6 engines with the pump and tank unit mounted, like this one, on a flat bed truck. The exceptions are the BLM which has a number of large engines, and the National Park Service for a while was purchasing wildland engines designed around the chassis rather than sitting on a flat bed.

When I started in the fire service on the west coast most of the USFS engines were built on a flat bed. The reasoning was that the pump and tank could be removed in the winter, allowing the truck to be used for non-fire projects. But, the tanks and pumps were almost never removed.

I am no engine-design guru, but the advantages of the flatbed-based engine compared to the engine body built around the chassis, is that the flatbed design could have a higher departure angle, it may be less expensive, and also perhaps lighter, making it easier to stay within the manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight.

Oddly, the truck in this picture has an unusually low departure angle, which could cause the rear wheels to lose traction when the tires enter a depression and the bumper/trailer hitch/spare tire assembly scrapes the ground. It is always a challenge deciding WHERE to put a spare tire, or IF there will be a spare tire.

USFS engine

Far too many wildland fire trucks exceed the GVW by thousands of pounds. Some have even been known to be very close to the GVW immediately after they were driven away from the manufacturer and filled with water, before any fire equipment or firefighters were added.

The disadvantages of a flatbed-based design would include less storage space and a higher center of gravity, resulting in inferior handling and a configuration that is a little easier to rollover. Of course all of these issues can be mitigated to a degree by the design, the materials used, and where the equipment is mounted or stored.

USFS engine

It would be interesting to know the specs of this piece of apparatus.

US offers firefighting assistance to Russia

Russia fires
Firefighting in Russia near Dolginino in the Ryazan region.

From PTI:

Moscow:  The US offered to supply fire-fighting equipment to Russia to help deal with continuing wildfires and peat bog fires caused by abnormally hot weather as President Barack Obama spoke to his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev over phone.

During the telephonic conversation with Medvedev last night, Obama expressed condolences at the loss of life and concern at the disastrous environmental situation in Central Russia caused by raging forest and peat bog fires.

“Obama reiterated the US readiness to supply the necessary fire-fighting equipment and render expert assistance,” a Kremlin release said.

Earlier, an expert team from the US visited Moscow to look at the possibility of US assistance in Russia’s fire-fighting operations already joined by several CIS and European countries.

Thousands of emergency workers and military personnel have been working round the clock for almost three weeks to fight fires in 22 Russian regions, which have so far killed more than 50 people and left over 3,500 homeless.

Meanwhile, satellite monitoring showed a significant drop in the number of wildfire hot spots on the Russian territory with only 359 registered yesterday, according to the ScanEx website that receives information from two NASA satellites.

Two firefighters killed on wildfires in Spain

The BBC is reporting that two firefighters have been killed while working on fires in Spain.

Two firefighters have been killed in wildfires that have broken out in Spain. The blazes hit near the village of Fornelos de Montes in the country’s northwestern Galicia region, close to the border with Portugal, where several forest fires are still raging.

The exact circumstances of the firefighters’ deaths are not yet known.

Across the border meanwhile, 50 people have been evacuated from a village in Portugal’s Peneda-Geres national park.

Reports say the fire in Spain is still being brought under control.

The regional president of Galicia, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, has cancelled all his appointments to focus on the problem.

More than 230 firefighters are still tackling blazes in northern Portugal. France has sent two water-dropping planes under the European mutual aid system. Northern Portugal continues to be ravaged by wildfires

Earlier this week two Portuguese firefighters were killed on duty, including a 21-year-old woman who died after being trapped by flames.

According to the country’s National Forest Authority, 19,346 hectares (47,805 acres) of forest have been burned and destroyed.

There are reports that three firefighters have been killed recently while working on fires in Portugal. That is an update from an earlier report that two died on fires.