Structures burn in Hot Springs, SD fire

Hot Springs, SD fire

A fire in Hot Springs, South Dakota late Saturday afternoon burned two unoccupied residences and several outbuildings. Approximately one to two acres was blackened on the north end of the town, north of the Evans Plunge on the west side of School Street.

The fire stopped about 50 feet short of Howard Green’s house who told us the two residences had not been occupied for a while. At least one vehicle, a former school bus, also burned.

Firefighters were able to successfully protect several homes, even though the fire came within a few feet of the structures. The wind had been blowing in excess of 20 mph, with the temperature reaching 80 and a relative humidity in the teens.

The cause was still being investigated, but one resident told us she thought she smelled leaves or debris burning before the fire broke out.

All photos were taken by Bill Gabbert.

Hot Springs, SD fire

A residence with an attached garage that had not been occupied for a while, burned. Another unoccupied residence behind this structure also was destroyed.

Hot Springs, SD fire

Hot Springs, SD fire

More photos are after the jump. Continue reading


Red Flag Warnings, March 28, 2015

wildfire Red Flag Warning, 3-28-2015

Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches have been issued for areas in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Florida.

The map was current as of 8:30 a.m. MDT on Saturday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts and maps. For the most current data visit this NWS site or this NWS site.


National Wildfire Coordinating Group Announces Winners of 2014 Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Awards

A nurse from Los Angles who is committed to firefighter burn safety, two interagency hotshot fire crews who helped save severely injured fellow firefighters in remote locations, and two wildland firefighters who resuscitated a stricken helicopter pilot have all been selected for the 2014 Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Awards. The annual awards program, sponsored by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Incident Emergency Medical Subcommittee (IEMS), recognizes and honors individuals and organizations who have demonstrated outstanding work, actions or programs in emergency medical service (EMS) for wildland firefighters.

“The IEMS Selection Committee considered a number of outstanding nominations this year, in fact more than last year,” said Mike Long, former Florida State Forester and current chair of the IEMS awards selection committee. “The interesting thing was, when we voted, every member of the committee had almost unanimously selected these people for the emergency actions they performed on behalf of wildland firefighters who serve this Nation,” Long added.

The three Emergency Medical Service Award categories that nominations were selected from include:

  • Outstanding Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Individual
  • Outstanding Wildfire Squad/Crew/Team
  • Excellence in Wildfire Emergency Medical Service/Rescue

The 2014 Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Award recipients are:

Mary Valance, Los Angeles County Fire Department, was awarded the “Outstanding Wildfire EMS Individual of the Year Award” for her work related to wildland fire smoke inhalation, exertional heat injuries, and her training of the department’s paramedics and emergency medical technicians. Additionally, on her own time Valance created an awareness campaign for wildland fire injuries and has presented this information at numerous workshops, conferences, and medical facilities. She is currently working to improve firefighter rehabilitation from heat related illnesses.

The Navajo Interagency Hotshot Crew based in Fort Defiance, Ariz., and the Winema Interagency Hotshot Crew based in Klamath Falls, Ore., both earned the “Outstanding Wildfire EMS Squad/Crew/Team of the Year Award.”

The Navajo Interagency Hotshots are recognized for their dedication and foresight for being fully prepared to deal with medical emergencies in the field by starting their own EMS training program and for putting that emergency medical training into practice this past August 15 when two interagency hotshot crew (IHC) members were struck by a log rolling down a hill on the South Cle Elem Ridge fire in Washington State. The rolling log dragged and then pinned the two IHC members. The crew immediately activated their “incident within an incident plan” and contacted both the division supervisor and the incident commander.

While transportation was requested, others assessed the two patients for injuries and began treatment. The injuries were determined not to be life threatening, but stabilization, packaging and evacuation were challenges. The crew’s decisions for patient care and stabilization proved to be fully appropriate and helped to minimize further unnecessary on-scene medical care that may have compromised the patient’s condition by others who arrived on scene. The crew then continued to help expedite the patient’s evacuation to a Seattle trauma center.

The Winema Interagency Hotshots are recognized for their emergency response when a veteran Winema IHC crew member was struck and severely injured by a falling tree while working on the Freezeout Ridge fire in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Idaho. The crew, led by its medically trained personnel, immediately performed a patient assessment and determined the significance of the injuries and the threat they posed. They reported the medical emergency and requested a Life Flight.

As the fire’s Incident Management Team initiated its “incident within an incident” protocol and care was being provided to the patient, other members of the Winema IHC constructed an emergency medical landing zone. The injured firefighter was packaged for transport, flown a short distance via “long-line” to an awaiting medevac, and then flown to a trauma center in Boise. There the injured hotshot was discovered to have sustained a fractured skull, lacerations to the face and head, two broken arms, a broken jaw, a broken thumb, as well as minor burns.

Jason Barnhart and Michael Bramlett with the Klamath National Forest Helitack, Helicopter 502, earned the “Excellence in Wildfire EMS/Rescue Award” for their actions during a medical emergency that occurred at the Scott Valley Helibase when a contract helicopter pilot on the helibase went into cardiac arrest. While “911” was contacted and a request for Life Flight was made, firefighters Barnhart and Bramlett assigned to H-502 at the helibase immediately responded to the medical emergency with their ship’s trauma bag and an automated external defibrillator (AED). They recognized the patient was pulseless and not breathing and without hesitation started CPR. Meanwhile, they also hooked up the AED and shocked the patient several times as directed by the medical device.

Heavy smoke conditions in the area prevented a Life Flight helicopter from reaching the scene and the ground ambulance transport time would take up to 45 minutes to reach a hospital after it reached the scene. The decision was made to configure Helicopter 502 for emergency medical transport to expedite the continuity of patient care to a higher level. Firefighters Barnhart and Bramlett continued CPR for more than 30 minutes while the helicopter pilot was flown to a hospital. The entire rescue took only 37 minutes. The stricken helicopter pilot survived and was released after several weeks in the hospital. Doctors credited the prompt medical response for the patients’ survival. Firefighters Barnhart and Bramlett acquired their emergency medical technician certifications on their own time and at their own expense.

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Incident Emergency Medical Subcommittee’s mission is to establish a methodology that meets the emergency medical and occupational health care needs of managed incidents, providing information, updates and guidance to enhance the health and safety of wildland firefighters and other personnel during wildland fire incidents.

The  purpose of the Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Awards program is to recognize the unselfish acts of individuals and organizations for “going above and beyond” their normal duties in rendering emergency medical service care and training for member agency incidents and programs.

For additional information about the National Wildfire Coordination Group’s Incident Medical Emergency Subcommittee and the Wildfire Emergency Medical Service Award program, visit:


Montana firefighter charged with arson

Firestone Flats Fire

Firestone Flats Fire. Inciweb photo.

A firefighter in Montana is being charged with arson after admitting to starting multiple wildfires. One of the largest was the Firestone Flats Fire that burned 1,570 acres 25 miles north of Missoula, Montana in July and August of 2013.

Below is an excerpt from the Lake County Leader:

Phillip “Cody” Haynes, a wildland firefighter for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, told investigators he had started seven forest fires in the past three years, according to Lake County Prosecutor Steve Eschenbacher.
Haynes, who was charged with felony arson, appeared before District Court Judge Deborah K. Christopher March 19 for arraignment where Haynes requested legal counsel. Haynes is to be arraigned March 26.

Haynes did not admit to the alleged crimes until a CSKT fire investigator, two other CSKT firemen and a Lake County sheriff’s detective convinced him to confess.
According to court documents, Haynes took responsibility for setting several fires last year: the South Finley fire on July 28, the Saddle Mountain Fire on Aug. 18, the Hammer Fire on Aug. 25, as well as the Arlee Pines fire on July 17, 2013, and the Firestone Fire in July 2013.

On August 1, 2013 the following resources were assigned to the fire: Bob Fry’s, Western Montana Incident Management Team, 384 firefighters and support personnel, 3 Hotshot Crews, 6 other Hand Crews,19 Engines, 2 Helicopters, 12 pieces of Heavy Equipment, 7 Water Tenders, and 2 Heavy Air Tankers were available.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dick.


“The death of a forest”

They don’t make films like this anymore. It was part of the 1960’s television series “True Adventure” with host Bill Burrud. This episode features Chuck Hartley on the Angeles National Forest. Chuck went on to a long firefighting career in the U.S. Forest Service, much of it on the Angeles.

My favorite line is:

It’s a story of Chuck Hartley, a forest, and a fire. A combination that spells a life and death struggle as we’ll see, when we go out on the fireline to watch the death of a forest.

Did you notice any other interesting lines?