Colorado National Guard being sued for starting fire in Wyoming

Sawmill Canyon Fire

Firefighters conduct a burnout on the Sawmill Canyon Fire in 2012. USFS photo.

A private landowner is suing the Colorado National Guard for starting a fire at a training site in Wyoming that burned more than 2,000 acres of their Bulls Bend Ranch near the town of Glendo. The $6.8 million suit claims the use of ammunition and explosives while training during dry conditions started the fire at the Wyoming National Guard’s Camp Guernsey.

The Sawmill Canyon Fire began July 14, 2012 seven miles southeast of Glendo, Wyoming and burned 14,185 acres before it was contained. About 1,000 acres of grazing land and another 1,000 acres of timberland that burned was on the ranch owned by Kevin and Susan Rothschild.

“The defendants collectively knew of the risk and danger in using live ammunition and explosives in an area that was prone to be dry, yet they proceeded to use explosives and other fire-causing materials that ignited a substantial fire, which caused damage to the property,” the complaint states. “The defendants were further negligent, irresponsible, reckless and acted without regard for plaintiff’s property by not having any fire extinguishing equipment or other controls in place to control and minimize the risk of fire from their activities.”

The Rothschilds say the fires resulted in dead cattle carcasses rotting on their property, dead fish in streams and rivers, destruction of wildlife habitat, burned standing timber and erosion, with silt and ash flowing into streams.

It wasn’t the first time. In 2006, the Tracer Fire, caused by the Army’s firing live rounds into dry grass, burned more than 13,000 acres of grazing land and timber, killing thousands of healthy trees, according to the complaint.

“The only conclusion that can be reached is that the training procedures with the National Guard and the Department of the Army have been shoddy, neglectful and poorly supervised,” the ranchers say.

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

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Prescribed fire near Caroline Dormon School

prescribed fire Louisiana

Prescribed fire near Caroline Dormon Junior High School in Louisiana. Photo by Julia Denning.

Julia Denning sent us this interesting photo of a February 28 prescribed fire on the Kisatchie National Forest near the Caroline Dormon Junior High School in Woodworth, Louisiana. I asked about the two signs in front of the school, wondering if there was also a U.S. Forest Service facility at that location. Ms. Denning explained:

There is no USFS facility at the school, but the land on which the school is built was donated by the Forest Service, hence the Smokey-style signs. The school itself was named in tribute to conservationist Caroline Dormon, who was instrumental in the designation of the Kisatchie National Forest in 1930.

In October she also sent us some excellent photos of a prescribed fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon. Thanks again, Julia.

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Head of Argentina’s National Fire Management dismissed after Chubut fire

Fires Chubut province Argentina

The largest concentration of red dots just to the right of the center of the image shows the location of wildfires in the western area of Chubut province near Cholila city in Argentina, February 26, 2015. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite. Smoke can also be seen in the NASA image.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Buenos Aires Herald:

Argentina’s National Fire Management Service (SNMF) of the Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry director Jorge Barrionuevo has been fired by newly appointed Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández.

Fernández fired Barrionuevo and called him “useless”, arguing he did not handle properly the fire that spread among the native forests of Chubut province, the worst in the country’s recorded history as 20,000 hectares — about the size of Buenos Aires City — were reported to have succumbed to the flames.

“We are making some changes because things are getting over his head. This government does not deserve that. We can no longer bear with useless people that think this is a joke. This is a very serious matter. A province is suffering and a country is suffering,” Fernández, who met with Chubut governor Martín Buzzi, said.

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Wildfire potential, March through June, 2015

The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center has issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for March through June. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the eleven Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their predictions are accurate, fire potential should be increasing in the upper midwest and mid-south, it is expected to be normal in the west, and higher than normal in Alaska and Hawaii.

Here are the highlights from their outlook.

March

March  wildfire potential

  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential exists across much of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for the Southeast from Texas to the mid-Atlantic as well as Puerto Rico.
  • Normal significant wildland fire potential elsewhere.

April

April wildfire potential

  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will develop throughout the Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes.
  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will continue across much of Hawaii.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential will continue along the coastal plain of the Southeast and through central Texas as well as Puerto Rico.

May through June

May June  wildfire potential

  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will develop across portions of Southern California. Above normal significant wildland fire potential will continue across much of Hawaii.
  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will reduce to normal across the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential will develop across the Southwest and continue on the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast coasts.
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Kari Greer featured on flickr

Click on the full-screen arrow in the bottom-right of the video to see it fill your screen. If you are having trouble viewing the video above, click here to see it on the flickr website.

The last time I saw Kari Greer was last year at the 20-year commemoration of the South Canyon Fire in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We talked for a while, and after comparing camera gear I asked if her camera equipment and her vehicle smell like a forest fire for a while after returning from a fire. She smiled and said that yes, she loved it, and thought that other people who ride in her vehicle like it too.

You gotta appreciate a wildland fire photographer who loves the smell of smoke!

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Saturday afternoon in the parks

Pronghorn Antelope, Wind Cave National Park

Pronghorn Antelope, in Wind Cave National Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

These were some critters I saw today during a 90-minute period in Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. (Click on the photos to see larger versions.)

Turkeys in Wind Cave National Park.

Turkeys, in Wind Cave National Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

White Tail Deer, in Wind Cave National Park.

White Tail Deer, in Wind Cave National Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

bison Wind Cave National Park

Bison, in Wind Cave National Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Bald Eagle Custer State Park

Bald Eagle in Custer State Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Bison, in Custer State Park

Bison, in Custer State Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

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