Smoke map and Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 27, 2015

 

Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 27, 2015. noaa.gov

Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 27, 2015. noaa.gov

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches for areas in Washington and Montana.

The map was current as of 9 a.m. MDT on Thursday. 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.

Smoke map, Aug. 27 2015. AIRNow.gov.

Smoke map, Aug. 27 2015. AIRNow.gov.

Heavy smoke from northwestern wildfires is continuing to blanket southern Canada. Unhealthy levels of smoke have been forecasted for central and western Canada, in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as northern Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Air Quality map, Aug. 27, 2015, AIRNow.gov

Air Quality map, Aug. 27, 2015, AIRNow.gov

 

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Weekend memorial service to honor three firefighters killed in Washington

twisp river fire fatalities

The general area of the fatalities. They were found 40 feet off Woods Canyon Road. The 3-D map is looking north.

Three firefighters who were killed on Aug. 19 will be honored in a memorial service in Wenatchee, Washington on Sunday, Aug. 30.

Firefighters Tom Zbyszewski, 20, Richard Wheeler, 31, and Andrew Zajac, 26, died last week when their apparatus crashed as they were trying to escape a fire near Twisp, Washington. One firefighter, Daniel Lyon, 25, of Puyallup, Washington, is in critical condition with third degree burns over over 60 to 65 percent of his body.

Since their deaths, at least six investigations of the incident have been launched. On Aug. 23, the U.S. Forest Service released more information about the deaths of the three firefighters. Read that post here. 

The service for the firefighters will begin at 1 p.m. at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee.

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Large helibase sets up in Colville, WA

A group of horses pay no attention to a firing operation going on behind them on Division X of the Okanogan Complex August 25, 2015. Firefighters were using drip torches and incendiary devices (sausages) shot from a verry pistol to burn out the hillside to the west of Spring Coulee Road in Okanogan, WA connecting areas to the north and south that had previously burned to protect homes in the area.

A group of horses pay no attention to a firing operation going on behind them on Division X of the Okanogan Complex August 25, 2015. Firefighters were using drip torches and incendiary devices (sausages) shot from a verry pistol to burn out the hillside to the west of Spring Coulee Road in Okanogan, WA connecting areas to the north and south that had previously burned to protect homes in the area.

Tom Story, who is in Washington documenting some of the wildfire activity, spent time on Monday at the Hopps Helibase near Colville, WA. While in Washington, Tom also spent time with 200 U.S. Army soldiers who were training to assist in the firefighting effort. 

Here is his dispatch from the Hopps Helibase on Aug. 25, 2015.

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Walker’s Area Command, based in Colville, WA, in August of the 2015 fire season, has setup a large helibase on farmland south of town. The property is owned by the Hopps family, thus giving the base it’s name. The facility allows both civilian contract helicopters a base and a location for military ships to stage until needed on the numerous fires in the area.

At Hopps this morning; August 25th, were a pair of Bell 205 A1++, two AStar A350s, one Bell 206 L4 as well as one of Columbia Helicopters Boeing Vertols joined by a couple of Blackhawks and a Chinook flying in from their overnight base at Fairchild A.F.B outside of Spokane.

The Federal Aviation Administration is operating a temporary tower at the helibase since up to 20 helicopters are anticipated to be using the base as the fire season continues in northeast Washington.

With the FAA control tower in the background and a Bell 205 A1 ++ in the foreground, a Bell 206 L4 carrying members of Swan Valley Helitack from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, take off for a mission on the Carpenter Road Fire.

With the FAA control tower in the background and a Bell 205 A1 ++ in the foreground, a Bell 206 L4 carrying members of Swan Valley Helitack from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, take off for a mission on the Carpenter Road Fire.

Members of Swan Valley Helitack from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest prepare for a mission to the Carpenter Road Fire near Colville, WA August 25, 2015.

Members of Swan Valley Helitack from the Caribou-Targhee National Forest prepare for a mission to the Carpenter Road Fire near Colville, WA August 25, 2015.

With the FAA control tower in the background, crews prepare helicopters at the Hopps Helibase for the day's missions on large fires around Colville, WA.

With the FAA control tower in the background, crews prepare helicopters at the Hopps Helibase for the day’s missions on large fires around Colville, WA.

An Army Chinook lumbers overhead on final approach for a landing at the Hopps Helibase over a Columbia Helicopters Boeing Vertol.

An Army Chinook lumbers overhead on final approach for a landing at the Hopps Helibase over a Columbia Helicopters Boeing Vertol.

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UPDATED: Smoke map, Aug. 26, 2015

Smoke map, Aug. 26. 2015. Source: wunderground.com

Smoke map, Aug. 26. 2015. Source: wunderground.com

Areas of Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana are in the center of the worst smoke being generated by local fires, as of 8:45 a.m. MDT. Air quality forecasts show unhealthy levels of smoke in all four states, with unhealthy advisories extending into Canada.

Air quality advisories, Aug. 26, 2015. AIRNow.gov

Air quality advisories, Aug. 26, 2015. AIRNow.gov

As of 8:45 a.m. MDT, there were no Red Flag Warnings. These 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.

UPDATE:

While there were no Red Flag Warnings issued as of 12:40 p.m. MDT, fire weather forecasts show elevated risk for southeastern Oregon and northeastern California. A second-day forecast showed critical fire weather risk spreading into Idaho and Montana.

Fire Weather Outlook, Day 1, noaa.gov

Fire Weather Outlook, Day 1, noaa.gov

Fire Weather Outlook, Day 2, noaa.gov

Fire Weather Outlook, Day 2, noaa.gov

 

 

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The states’ role in wildland fire suppression

Generally it’s the U.S. Forest Service and the other federal land management agencies that receive much of the attention when many wildfires are burning around the country. But a large portion of the credit for suppressing them should go to the fire organizations in the states. On Tuesday the National Association of State Foresters issued the following statement about their role.

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NASF Wildland Fire Expert Addresses Current Fire Situation

WASHINGTON—As the western United States continues to experience significant wildland fire activity, state forestry agencies are working around-the-clock with their partners in fire suppression. State Foresters—the directors of state forestry agencies—allocate resources, ensure public information and safety, and provide technical expertise and personnel needed to fight fires safely and effectively.

State and local resources are first to respond to approximately 75 percent of all wildland fires in the United States. These agencies provide critical resources and experience to wildland fire management and suppression as part of the coordinated national wildfire response. State forestry agencies also support prevention and mitigation efforts to reduce the threat of fire in the first place.

Bob Harrington, Montana State Forester and chair of the National Association of State Foresters Wildland Fire Committee said today:

“The United States is facing significant fire activity in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, California, and the Great Basin, and in the Southwest and Southern regions as well. This level of fire activity has not occurred since 2007, and firefighting resources are scarce despite sharing of resources across the country.”

“With evacuations, structures burning and communities and infrastructure at risk, the role of state forestry agencies has never been more critical. Of the more than 32,000 personnel currently assigned to large fires, a significant percentage are employed or mobilized by state forestry agencies.”

“In an average year, states typically deploy an average of $1.6 billion in personnel and resources towards the prevention, control, and management of wildfire.”

“In addition to the state supported response, state foresters work with the USDA Forest Service to deliver the State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs, which together provide resources to reduce hazardous fuels and to train and equip first responders. In fiscal year 2014 more than 102,000 firefighters received wildland fire training through these programs. Nearly 11,900 communities were assisted by SFA and VFA during this same time period.”

The National Association of State Foresters is comprised of the directors of state and territorial forestry agencies and the District of Columbia. NASF seeks to advance sustainable forestry, conservation, and protection of forestlands and their associated resources. Learn more at www.stateforesters.org.

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