Rapid City FD contains wildfire, then conducts prescribed fire

Yesterday the Rapid City, South Dakota fire department successfully suppressed a grass fire that was threatening homes, containing it after it had only burned a few acres or less (map). But then, according to an article in the Rapid City Journal:

After the fire was contained, the emergency responders decided to conduct a controlled burn in the area to prevent another fire. [Assistant fire chief for the Rapid City Fire Department Mike] Maltaverne said the weather was right and the resources were already on scene.

“We can do it in a controlled setting,” Maltaverne said. “With the recent moisture and all these resources, we can eliminate all these fuels.”

Including the initial fire, about five acres of brush will be burned after the firefighters complete the controlled burn, Maltaverne said.

We were curious if the “controlled burn” was part of the suppression process, such as a burn out, or if it was an actual prescribed fire, unrelated to the wildfire. This morning Wildfire Today talked with Captain Mark Kirchgesler, the Training Coordinator for the Rapid City Fire Department, about the fire. He had not been on the scene of the fire, but said, according to the report, that the size of the fire was about 150 feet by 150 feet (about 1/2 acre) when the first engine arrived. The wildfire had been contained or controlled before the prescribed fire was initiated. The combined size of the wildfire and the adjacent prescribed was five acres.

He said it is not unusual for the fire department to conduct prescribed fires within their jurisdiction to reduce future wildfire threats to structures. When asked who has the authority to initiate a prescribed fire on the spur of the moment out in the field after controlling a wildfire, he said it can be “the incident commander in cooperation with the Assistant Chief for Operations”. He said air quality is always considered before igniting any prescribed fire within the city.

In one sense, you might envy the Rapid City FD for their ability to recognize an opportunity to reduce wildland fuels around structures and seize it immediately, with little or no paperwork and a very streamlined approval process. Those of us that have planned and conducted prescribed fires for federal or most state wildland fire agencies, don’t have the luxury of eliminating the planning process. I only hope that their policy does not backfire on them somewhere down the road.

Can a laundry-folding robot fold Nomex?

laundry folding robotWe don’t know if the researchers at the University of California-Berkeley intend to teach their laundry-folding robot how to fold freshly washed Nomex, but right now it is concentrating on how to fold rectangular-shaped objects, like towels.

Here is a description of the “adorable” robot from popsi.com:

This laundry-folding robot may not find many fans at the local laundromat, but only because it takes so long in holding up each towel for scrutiny before folding. Still, its fussiness speaks to a special care for laundry — or painstaking programming routines — that has won our hearts. You see, folding isn’t a chore for this robot. It’s an art.

The special PR2 bot is the result of a collaboration between University of California-Berkeley researchers and the gadget guys at Willow Garage. [The] video shows the robot very carefully inspecting and then folding a pile of five unfamiliar towels of various sizes on a table, sped up 50 times.

The robot can only work its folding magic on rectangular-shaped cloth for now, so your unmentionables are safe from its scrutiny. We look forward to seeing PR2 work its slow-mo magic on a messy preteen’s room in the near future.

North Carolina: firefighters and fire trucks burned

On a 65-acre fire in Jackson County, North Carolina, three firefighters were injured and three fire trucks were destroyed or damaged in the Wilmont community on Bradley Branch Road. Two of the firefighters sustained minor burns and were treated at the scene. A third firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and was airlifted to Memorial Mission Hospital for treatment, according to state forest ranger Kerry Lathrop.

Two vehicles burned in the fire, including a North Carolina Forest Service vehicle and one driven by the chief of the Qualla Fire Department. A third vehicle belonging to the Qualla FD was heavily damaged. One home on Bradley Branch Road also burned.

Residents in the area were forced to evacuate on Wednesday, but heavy rain moved into the area this morning, making the job of mopup much easier for the firefighters.

Here is a 20-second video shot by the Jackson County Emergency Manager, Todd Dillard.

UPDATE: April 10, 2010
The North Carolina Forest Service has issued an update about this incident.

Fund-raising for memorials for 1910 fire fatalities

There is a fund-raising effort underway to erect memorials for the six wildland firefighters that died near Wallace, Idaho in 1910 when they were working on Ranger Edward Pulaski’s crew on the “Big Blowup”, or the “Great Fire of 1910”. At the bottom of this post is information to refresh your memory about Ranger Pulaski, who is legendary from the 1910 fires and his invention of the firefighting tool.

The Kellogg, Idaho Chamber of Commerce has formed a committee to raise money for the memorials. Other supporters of the effort include the Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce, Shoshone County Fire Chiefs’s Association, and the Shoshone County Fire Prevention Coop. On the committee is John Specht, who retired from the US Forest Service as the Northern Rockies Region Operations Chief a few years back. The group plans to dedicate the memorials on August 21.

Here is the text from a letter sent out by John Specht:

I am on a committee that was formed to finance, construct and dedicate a memorial for the firefighters that lost their lives in the 1910 Forest Fire. We have a plan which will have three parts:

1. We will repair and refurbish the 2 mass graves at the Nine Mile Cemetery near Wallace. These graves have 5 firefighters buried in each one. We will also purchase and install directional signs at the cemetery to assist the public in locating these historic sites.
2. We will have a granite stone that matches Ranger Pulaski’s original design for a memorial for the 6 firefighters that lost their lives on his crew. We plan to have this stone installed at the edge of the grave site in the Nine Mile Cemetery where 5 of the 6 firefighters are buried.
3. We are going to purchase a large black granite stone and install it as the centerpiece to a memorial that will be constructed at the Wallace Visitors center at the West end of Wallace. The wording on the memorial will be:

This memorial is dedicated to those firefighters who
lost their lives fighting the “Great Fire of 1910.” Their
heroic efforts while enduring some of the most severe
fire behavior in our nation’s history will not be forgotten.

Dedicated August 21, 2010

As you can imagine accomplishing this long overdue project it will take a substantial amount of money. We have set a goal to raise $25,000. Any individual or organization that donates $500 or more will have their names listed on a plaque as a donor. Any donation will be appreciated. If you can make a donation please make your check out to the 1910 Firefighters Memorial and send it to the address at the top of this letter. I thank you in advance for your support to our project. We will be dedicating these memorials on August 21, 2010 as part of the 100th year anniversary celebration of the 1910 fire. We invite you to attend this very special event.


John Specht
Box 607
Osburn, Idaho 83849
208 512 4555

Checks should be made out to:
“1910 Firefighters Memorial”
and mailed to:

1910 Fire Commemoration Committee
Historic Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce
10 Station Ave.
Kellogg, ID  83839

Information about Ranger Edward Pulaski is below-

Continue reading “Fund-raising for memorials for 1910 fire fatalities”

Include a photo with a comment

We just enabled a feature on Wildfire Today making it possible for your photo or a graphic of your choice to appear by your comments at the bottom of posts here on the site. It’s called an “avatar”, and in this case an avatar is an image that follows you from blog to blog, appearing beside your name when you comment on avatar enabled sites. If you set up an image associated with your email address just once at Gravator.com, the image will appear with your comments on enabled sites. As usual, though, when you fill in your email address as you leave a comment on Wildfire Today, it will never be revealed.

Here is a 2-minute video from Gravatar.com that explains how easy it is to set up an avatar.

Here and here are some posts on Wildfire Today that have some avatars associated with some comments. Scroll down to see the comments.