Wildfire camo clothing

A camouflage pattern on clothing or a vehicle that replicates a wildfire of course has no practical use. If you are in a wildfire, there is no logical reason why you would want to hide. But on the other hand, according to my research, 99.2753 percent of the people that wear standard camo have no practical reason for wearing it, other than fashion.

Last year we wrote about a race car that competed in a NASCAR event that was wrapped in a wildfire pattern. Now it turns out that the company that made the wrap is putting the pattern on clothing. (It’s pretty cool, I have to admit.)

fire camo shirt

Wildfire camo shirt, by Moonshine Attitude Attire.


Golf club may have started Poinsettia Fire in California

Poinsettia Fire, screen grab from Fox TV at 120 pm PDT, May 14, 2014

Poinsettia Fire, screen grab from Fox TV at 1:20 p.m. PDT, May 14, 2014.

A fire investigator has determined that a golf club striking a rock is one of the possible causes for the Poinsettia Fire that burned 27 residences and 600 acres on May 14 in Carlsbad, California. The fire started near a cart path on the 7th hole on the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa’s golf course.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Union-Tribune:

As for arson, a viral suspicion on that infernal spring day, [Dominic Fieri, an investigator with the Carlsbad Fire Department] found no evidence of an incendiary device.

“Based on the location of the fire’s origin, and interviews conducted by the Carlsbad police,” he wrote, “I have ruled out any fire causes that resulted in a deliberate act of circumstances in which a person ignited the fire.”

That leaves Fieri with only one explanation he could not reject out of hand — a “smoldering ignition source that had direct contact with combustible materials.”

Given the starting point on a golf course, Fieri concluded that the blaze may have been started either by a burning cigarette or cigar (though he could find no physical evidence in the windy, charred ignition area) or a spark created by a “titanium golf club head” hitting a rock.

If a golf club started the Poinsettia Fire it is not the first time it has happened. There is at least one and possibly two other cases of this happening.

As we wrote in 2010, the Orange County Fire Authority in California said that a 12-acre fire in August of that year was ignited when a golfer, whose ball was in the rough, struck a rock with his club, causing sparks which started the fire. It took hand crews, helicopters, and 150 firefighters to put out the fire at the Shady Canyon Golf Club.

Earlier this year scientists at UC Irvine even conducted research to see if it was possible. Their conclusion:

Titanium alloy golf clubs can cause dangerous wildfires, according to UC Irvine scientists. When a club coated with the lightweight metal is swung and strikes a rock, it creates sparks that can heat to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit for long enough to ignite dry foliage, according to findings published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Fire and Materials.

If you look carefully in the video below, you will be able to see sparks created by a titanium club.


Report released on swamp buggy fire in Florida

burned swamp buggy

The burned swamp buggy. Photo from the report.

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has published a report on a swamp buggy that caught fire and was destroyed while working on a prescribed fire in Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida in August.

According to the report:

The exact cause of the swamp buggy fire remains unknown. However, physical examination of a very similar buggy—as well as the first-person accounts from those present during the burn—suggest that the fuel line running from the buggy’s gas tank to the pump failed.

swamp buggy


Recording of webinar on the effectiveness of suppression resources in large fire management

This video is a recording of an October 8, 2014 webinar on the effectiveness of firefighting resources in suppressing large fires. I hesitated to embed it here because about a third of the dozens of the graphics are illegible. They only use a portion of the available screen and the resolution is very low. Expanding the video to full-screen does not help. However, the content is interesting.

Here is how the webinar topic was described:

Dave Calkin presents on webinar on October 8, 2014. Wildfire management currently represents over 50 percent of the US Forest Service’s total budget. Suppression of large fires represents the single largest category of fire management and typically exceeds $1 billion annually. In both 2012 and 2013 large fire suppression exceeded the Agency’s budget allocations by over $400 million. Despite the scale of this investment relatively little is understood about how suppression actions influence large wildfire spread and those conditions that ultimately lead to containment. There is considerable uncertainty in managing large wildfires including the quality of weather forecasts, complex environmental conditions, variation in the type and quality of suppression resources, and whether or not requested suppression resources will be assigned.

In this presentation we review several recent studies that attempt to understand how suppression actions influence fire progression as well as review variation among Incident Management Teams in the amount of resources that they use to manage large wildland fires in the US. Despite these recent efforts, there remains limited understanding of suppression effectiveness. These results suggest that modeling large fire containment as a production process of fireline construction similar to traditional initial attack models is inappropriate. Improved understanding of large fire management effectiveness and efficiency will require spatially tracking individual resource assignments, activities, and tactics within the broader suite of fire management objectives and strategies.

One of the key facts the researchers needed in their study was how resources assigned affected the containment of the fire.

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group defines “contaiment”:

The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire’s spread.

It is well known that many incident management teams do not accurately report the daily containment percentage, usually pulling a number out of their rear end that is much lower than the actual amount of fireline that is constructed. They don’t have the courage to report the facts so they lie, fearful that if there is competition for resources a lower containment percentage will enable them to obtain and sometimes hoard firefighters, crews, engines, and aircraft — regardless, in some cases, of greater needs elsewhere. On a fire we visited in 2013 managed by a Type 1 incident management team we found that even though it had been contained for a couple of days, and there was very little mopup that still needed to be done, the Incident Commander reported a very low containment percentage in order to make it easier to justify an evacuation order to the public.

The researchers realized this, so they ignored the official percentages reported on the daily Incident Status Summary report, the ICS-209. They analyzed fires for which perimeter maps were available for each day. When a section of the fire perimeter stopped moving permanently, for the purposes of their study they considered that area “contained”.

They found that on 50 fires they looked at, when the entire perimeter stopped moving the average containment reported was 64 percent. Of course, there may be good reasons for not declaring a section of line held or contained. It may not move in that area, but it could still require fireline to be constructed. Reasons for a fire to stop moving other than proactive suppression, include changes in weather, fuels, and topography.

So it is not possible, using ICS-209s or mapping data after the fact, to accurately determine the actual containment of a fire. However, the method used by these researchers may provide a figure closer to reality than the data reported by many incident management teams.

Geographic Area Coordinating Centers and Multi-Agency Coordinating Groups that have to allocate scarce resources may be tempted to use the method described in this webinar to truth-check the information reported by incident management teams.


Throwback Thursday

Fire on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, October 13, 2008.

Fire on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, October 13, 2008.

Between October 12 and 18, 2008, these were some of the topics we covered on Wildfire Today:

–A vegetation fire on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay burned 250 acres. About 400 firefighters were transported to the fire in ferries and boats.

–The Sesnon Fire, started by downed power lines, burned 14,000 acres in Los Angeles County.

–Two engine crews from Los Angeles City Fire Department were entrapped on the Sesnon fire, but survived. There were no reports of injuries.

–The U.S. Forest Service suspended its contract with Carson Helicopters after nine people were killed when one of the company’s helicopters crashed on a fire.

Evergreen International was expecting to get a Supplemental Type Certificate from the FAA for their 747, accomplishing one of the steps leading, they hoped, to a contract from the USFS for their 20,000-gallon “Supertanker”.

–The Granite Mountain Hot Shots obtained their Type 1 Crew status, becoming the first city to have a Type 1 Hotshot Crew.

Bob Mutch received the International Association of Wildland Fire’s, Wildland Fire Safety Award.