West Antelope fire spreads overnight, sending smoke over Salt Lake City

West Antelope Fire 412 am July 23, 2016 (1)
A heat map of the West Antelope fire, captured at 4:12 a.m on Saturday, July 23, 2016, two days after the fire’s start.
Since Friday, Salt Lake City residents have been watching smoke billowing from Antelope Island, where a wildfire grew exponentially overnight.

Lightning is believed to be cause of the fire, which ignited Thursday night in the Utah State Park northwest of Salt Lake City. The fire grew from a few hundred acres on Friday to around 8,000 acres by Saturday morning, said Shayne Ward, a public information officer.

“That’s coming from some of the resources on the ground,” Ward said of the estimated size. An aircraft has yet to fly over the fire to take a more exact reading of its size, Ward said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, several Bureau of Land Management Engines, a dozer, a helicopter and two Single Engine Airtankers are helping crews contain the blaze. Officials have requested a larger airtanker, which is on its way, Ward said.

Fire and smoke were visible from Salt Lake City on Friday night.

Officials from the Utah Department of Natural Resources posted on Twitter to warn area residents to keep their drones out of the skies while firefighting aircraft headed to Antelope Island.

On a state-run website, utahfireinfo.gov, officials listed seven active wildfires in the state.

Check back on wildfiretoday.com for more updates on this fire. 

Utah Wildfires, July 23, 2016

Red Flag Warnings, July 23, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 12.44.28 PM

The National Weather Service has posted Red Flag Warnings for areas in Southern California, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota.

The maps were current as of 10:36 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.

Red Flag Warnings July 22, 2016

Red Flag Warnings July 22, 2016The National Weather Service has posted Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches for areas in California,  Washington, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

The maps were current as of 7:20 a.m. MDT on Friday. 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.

Report released on burnover of CAL FIRE engine

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has released what they call a “Green Sheet”, a summary of the burnover of an engine that occurred as it was making a mobile attack on the Pacheco Fire, which eventually burned 341 acres in Calaveras County south of Valley Springs.

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“SUMMARY

On July 12, 2016, a CAL FIRE Type 3 Model 34 engine (E1) attempted to start a mobile attack toward the head of a vegetation fire. Firefighters deployed two lines, but before they could anchor and start the mobile attack, the main fire and several spot fires converged on the fire engine. One firefighter took refuge in the engine, and one firefighter ran into the green. The engine sustained damage from the fire. Neither firefighter was injured.

CONDITIONS

  • Weather: 89°, 21% relative humidity, winds 9 mph from the west and shifting, taken from the Campo Seco RAWS at 1400 hours.
  • Fuel Type: Approximately two feet tall grass.
  • Topography: Southeast aspect, rolling topography with multiple draws
  • Fire Behavior: Sheeting, fire whirls, spotting

SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

On July 12, 2016, at approximately 1314 hours, CAL FIRE and local government resources were dispatched to a vegetation fire in the vicinity of Langford Pacheco Road and Milton Road in Calaveras County. The initial report on conditions given by the Air Attack at 1329 hours was 15 acres of grass woodland and spotting out in front of the main fire. At 1356 hours, the fire was reported to be 100 acres in size and spotting under the column.

A CAL FIRE engine (E1) arrived at scene at 1345 hours and was assigned Division R, the right flank of the fire. The crew met with a Battalion Chief (BC1) and came up with a plan to create an anchor point and start a mobile attack toward the head of the fire. A second CAL FIRE Engine (E2) and Dozer (D1) were just behind E1.

As E1 crossed through a gate to make access to the fire. E1 stopped in the green and deployed a one inch THY-600 Angus line manufactured by Rawhide Fire, with a 3/8 inch tip for the mobile attack and a reel line to pick up any spot fires. The Captain (FC1) on E1 saw the engine was between the main fire and multiple spot fires. Winds were shifting and the fire behavior was erratic so FC1 from E1 gave the order to pick up the lines so they could move to a better location. As the two firefighters (FF1 and FF2) began to roll up the hose, the main fire and spot fires converged and burned up to the engine. FF1 jumped into the engine while FF2 ran away from the engine into the green, losing his helmet. FC1 lost sight of FF2, and seeing only flames, announced on the tactical frequency that a fire fighter had been burned over. Engine E2 radioed to E1 that they were heading toward them. A large fire whirl was between E2 and E1.

Uninjured, FF2 looked back toward E1 from the green and saw the under carriage of the engine was on fire. FF2 contacted E1 on the radio and told them the engine was on fire. FF1 exited the cab and used the reel line to extinguish the fire under the engine.

Flame impingement caused the airlines above the frame rails to burst. When the air pressure dropped below 60 psi, FC1 was unable to release the spring brake. FF2 ran back to E1. A helicopter dropped water around E1 while D1 constructed line around a portion of E1 to protect the crew. FC1 notified the Incident Commander that all personnel were accounted for and in a good location.

There were no injuries. E1 sustained heat damage to the tires, fenders, lens covers, air brake lines and pump panel.

CAL FIRE engine damage

SAFETY ISSUES FOR REVIEW AND LESSONS LEARNED

STANDARD FIRE ORDERS

  • Base all actions on current and expected fire behavior.

WATCH OUT SITUATIONS

  • Wind increases and/or changes direction.
  • Getting frequent spot fires across line.

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Consider topographical features and fuels, no matter how minor, in relation to you and/or your vehicle’s location to anticipate fire behavior.
  • Base actions on current fire situation and activity potential.
  • Properly wear your PPE”

Utah develops plan to reduce the impacts of catastrophic wildfires

Utah fire strategyThe state of Utah has developed a plan to mitigate and prevent the adverse impacts of what they call “catastrophic wildfires”.  A 25-person steering committee wrote the document which identifies 14 statewide pilot projects
designed to offer the greatest positive impact on community
safety, water supply, utility and transportation
infrastructure, and damage to waterways and reservoir
storage. The projects include public education, improved address and road signage, the acquisition of more fire apparatus, and various types of fuel treatments. The estimated cost of the 14 projects is $129 million.

The plan is titled Catastrophic Wildfire Reduction Strategy. I’m sure that “catastrophic” describes wildfire, rather than the strategy.

Considering what has been going on in Utah during the last couple of years I was surprised to not see anything in the plan about taking over federal land to turn it over to the state or private companies.

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

Laboratory camera captures photos of Little Den Fire in Nevada

Above: The Little Den Fire at about 7:55 p.m. MDT July 20, 2016. Screen shot from Nevada Seismological Laboratory camera.

Earlier this month a mountain top camera operated by the Nevada Seismological Laboratory captured excellent images of the Hot Pot Fire near Midas, Nevada as it burned approximately 120,000 acres within its first 30 hours. The still images were converted to time-lapse videos condensing an hour of fire activity into one minute.

Now it has taken photos of a new fire, the Little Den Fire 39 miles west of Austin, Nevada between U.S. Highway 50 and Highway 2. By Wednesday evening it had burned an estimated 1,800 acres and was being suppressed by 3 hand crews, 7 engines, 3 air tankers, and 2 helicopters. Hecht’s Type 3 incident management team is assigned to the fire.

map Little Den Fire
Map showing heat detected by a satellite over the Little Den Fire at 2:15 a.m. MDT July 21, 2016. Click to enlarge.

In one video you can see the initial stages of the fire as it started at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday July 20.

The one-minute video below shows the rapid spread of the Little Den Fire from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The next video covers 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and has some very interesting images just before sunset showing wind shear effects on the smoke.

Other videos of the Little Den fire posted by the laboratory.