Kansas firefighter killed on brush fire

KAKE television station and FirefighterCloseCalls.com are reporting that a Peru, Kansas firefighter was killed on a vegetation fire on Sunday, April 11. Harold D. Reed Sr, 74 years of age, was overcome by smoke while working on a fire west of Peru and died in the line of duty. Firefighter Reed was transported to Sedan City Hospital where efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He had been a longtime member of the fire district and was a current board member.

Funeral services will be handled by the David Barnes Funeral Home in Sedan.

Our condolences to firefighter Reed’s coworkers and family.

Woodpecker may have started 90-acre fire

Fire investigators are thinking that a woodpecker started a fire that burned 90 acres in northwest Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday. Annaleasa Winter with the Florida Division of Forestry said a woodpecker’s carcass was found near a blown transformer at the point of origin of the fire. It took 100 firefighters assisted by a helicopter six hours to put it out.

This the the third bird-caused fire within the last year. I’m not a conspiracy theorist… I’m just saying.

We have added this to our list of “animal-arson” incidents.

Ohio firefighter in intensive care after being struck by falling tree

Below is an excerpt from the Zanesville Times Recorder. We hope for the best for Mr. Lingo.

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NELLIE [Ohio] — A firefighter remains hospitalized after a Saturday afternoon fire in Nellie.

Max Lingo of the Coshocton City Fire Department was taken from the scene via MedFlight to Akron General Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition Sunday evening in the intensive care unit.

Walhonding Valley Fire District Chief Mike Snyder said Lingo was knocked unconscious after being struck by a tree that fell during a woods fire, but could not speak on the severity of his injuries.

“We had a lot of trees on fire burning from the bottom. They were cutting some trees down to get them on the ground. The tree behind him had burnt in two, and when he got the one tree down, the other came in behind him and hit him,” Snyder said.

Snyder said the call of the fire came in at about 4:40 p.m., and units were on scene until about 9:45 p.m. The fire devastated about 10 to 15 acres on a hillside near the intersection of Ohio 715 and U.S. 36, close to the Verizon phone tower.

“The wind wasn’t with us,” Snyder said. “It was anywhere from 10 to 15 miles per hour going north, and it was hitting pretty hard.”

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Thanks Dick

This Day in Wildland Fire History

Kathy Komatz of the National Park Service in Boise has received one of the five Paul Gleason Lead by Example Awards for 2009 (as detailed at RamblingChief.com).  Komatz received the award for developing “This Day in Wildland Fire History”, which in association with Six Minutes for Safety provides lessons learned based on what I call “infamous fires”. Komatz’s information is available from a calendar on the Wildfire Lessons Learned web site, or this page. The calendar appears to be still under development, but the page that lists all of the “This Day in Wildland Fire History” topics has them all, without the dates. A presentation that is part of this year’s wildland fire refresher provides more details about this project.

(Update 5-20-2010; the Six Minutes for Safety Calendar can be found HERE.

Years ago I began compiling a list of “Infamous Wildland  Fires Around the World“, the latest version of which is on our Documents page. It includes short descriptions of fatality and other significant fires listed by date of the year. As I wrote in the document:

There are several purposes of doing the research and compiling this list by calendar date.  It is hoped that individuals and organizations involved in fire, especially wildland fire, will mark these dates on a calendar.

By having these wildland fires on a calendar, the lessons learned from even a 150 year old fire will be less likely to be forgotten.  An unforgotten lesson learned may save the life of a current or future firefighter.

I am pleased to see that Komatz is listing lessons learned opportunities on a calendar. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel, or re-inventing a lesson learned, if someone has already done it for you, at great cost.

And congratulations to the other four winners of the Paul Gleason awards for 2009: Stan Stewart, Pete Glover, Steve Holdsambeck, and especially Dennis Baldridge, a fellow former El Cariso Hot Shot.

Wildland fire air quality tools, and mapping shortcuts

I ran across an interesting web site the other day called Wildland Fire Air Quality Tools.  It has some very useful devices for predicting and analyzing smoke, wind patterns, and air quality.

There is no obvious branding on the site (the base web address is http://firesmoke.us), but the Contact Us page lists two US Forest Service employees, Pete Lahm and Sim Larkin. The About This Site page says:

The meteorological and air quality tools provided here are intended to support wildland fire decision making and integration of air quality assessments. This site integrates these tools with the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS) in order to enable easy workflow with WFDSS. This integration is still in development and ongoing.

One of the more interesting tools on the site is one that will display a “wind rose” based on the location of your choice.  If you enter a lat/long it will access data from the nearest RAWS to draw wind roses for a one month period, one for daytime and another for night. As you may know, a wind rose shows the historic wind direction and speed. Here is an example for West Yellowstone, Montana. It shows average wind speed and direction for the month of July during the day, based on data from 2001 to 2009. About 32% of the time the wind is from the southwest and about 22% of the time it’s from the south-southwest. About 14% of the time the wind speed is 8-13 MPH from the southwest.

Wind Rose, West Yellowstone, MT

Mapping shortcuts

You will need a lat/long to use the tools above, but you’re in luck because I discovered a quick way to determine the lat/long anywhere using a new “Labs” feature in Google Maps. But first I’ll tell you about another new feature in Google Maps that will help you navigate more quickly to a specific location.

On the Google Maps page, click on “New” at the top of the page. It will then list some new optional features in “Google Maps Labs”. If you Enable “Drag ‘n’ Zoom“, you can drag your mouse cursor to draw a box, then it will zoom to that box. To use this feature, click on the new magnifying glass icon that will appear on the left side of the map page under the “+” and “-” scale bar. Each time you want to draw a box to zoom, you’ll need to click that icon again.

Then scroll down in the Labs options and Enable “LatLng Marker” (not LatLng Tooltip). Click Save Changes. This option will post a “mini marker” showing the lat/long when you right-click on the map and choose “drop LatLng Marker”.

You’re welcome.