Incident managers from Indonesia visit the Rough Fire

Indonesia Command System

Incident management system trainers from Indonesia visit the Rough Fire in California. Inciweb photo.

This article first appeared on the InciWeb page for the Rough Fire, which has burned 66,542 acres near Hume Lake in southern California. Fire managers are calling it 25 percent contained.

****

“Indonesia, which is comprised of a group of 17,500 islands, is considered one of the most disaster prone areas in the world. Not do the mountains move (147 active volcanos), but the ground around the mountains seems to shake with earthquakes daily, reportedly with at least a 5.0 tremor every day. On December 26, 2004 Indonesia recorded the third largest earthquake ever recorded with the longest duration of faulting ever observed. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimeter and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

Shortly after the 2004 earthquake, the government realized that the country needed a system to help manage disasters. The government approached the United States to teach and provide technical expertise on the Incident Command System (ICS) for the tsunami-prone areas. A series of training courses was conducted in partnership with the governments of Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

18 individuals from Indonesia who are considered trainers arrived at the Rough Fire on August 28. They will be traveling to big cities in California to learn and participate in certain aspects of the ICS over the next few weeks. They expected that by arriving in the month of August they would have the opportunity to see the ICS at work during a large incident.

“The Team” will be at the Rough Base Camp to observe certain sections of the command system, so they can pass along their knowledge and educate the other Indonesians about ICS. On one particular Island, the team stated they have over five thousand trained volunteers. Many islands in Indonesia are difficult to access, similar to The Rough Fire. The team has changed the name of the management system to “Indonesian Command System”.”

****

Installing a hose lay on the Rough Fire. Undated InciWeb photo. (We think this is not the group from Indonesia.)

Installing a hose lay on the Rough Fire. Undated InciWeb photo. (We think this is not the group from Indonesia.)

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

Share

Smoke Map and Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 30, 2015

Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 30, 2015

Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 30, 2015

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for Montana and Wyoming.

The map was current as of 9 a.m. MDT on Wednesday. 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 severity has dissipated greatly from the Pacific Northwest fires, although some “unhealthy” air quality advisories remain in place for Idaho and Montana.

Smoke map, Aug. 30, 2015

Smoke map, Aug. 30, 2015

Share

Given forecast, meteorologist thinks crews should have been pulled from Twisp fire

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.

Could the fatal fire behavior near Twisp, Washington have been predicted?

One scientist, Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, thinks the erratic winds on Aug. 19 that fueled the flames that killed three firefighters were forecasted at least a day before.

In a recent blog post, Mass gave an in-depth analysis of wind patterns and weather on Aug. 19 to back-up his assertion that all crews should have been pulled from the line before the winds picked up.

“I believe the windshift/wind acceleration that occurred Wed. afternoon was entirely predictable.  It was not random, it was not extreme or a new normal,” Mass wrote. “My profession needs to work with the fire community to ensure such tragedies are prevented.”

The goal of the blog isn’t to place blame, Mass said, but instead to highlight an important issue while there are still crews fighting fires around the Pacific Northwest.

Cliff Mass blog, Aug. 30, 2015

Cliff Mass blog, Aug. 30, 2015

Mass’ analysis of the models shows a major wind transition across the Cascades between noon and 3 p.m. But Mass also found weather prediction models released at 5 p.m. the day before that predicted the same shift in winds.

“Thus, wildfire folks should have been pre-warned of a major wind shift and acceleration and probably should have been pulled back that afternoon,” Mass said.

Share

Smoke map and Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 29, 2015

Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 29, 2015, noaa.gov

Red Flag Warnings, Aug. 29, 2015, noaa.gov

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for areas in California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana.

The map was current as of 8:45 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.

Smoke from western wildfires continues to generate air quality advisories across the west, while the heaviest smoke drifts northeast towards Canada and the midwest.

Smoke map, Aug. 29, 2015

Smoke map, Aug. 29, 2015. AirNow.gov.

The map below shows the active spreading for smoke over the next 24 hours. To see the active map, visit this site. 

Smoke map, Airimpact

Smoke map, Airimpact, Aug. 29, 2015

Share

Alaska wildfire destroys homes in village on Kodiak Island

A wind-driven wildfire ignited late Thursday night outside the Alaskan village of Chiniak, on Kodiak Island off the coast from Anchorage.

Village residents began evacuating around 11 p.m. on Thursday, and by early Friday morning local police were urged those remaining to leave as the fire spread, according to reports by the Alaska Dispatch News.

By Friday morning, crews estimated that the fire had burned 2,000 acres. A handful of homes and the local library were destroyed; reports did not say how many homes were burned.

Share

U.S. Forest Service update from the Pacific Southwest

Map, fires in the West, 8-19-2015

Map, large uncontained wildfires in the West, August 19, 2015.

This update from Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore was circulated this week. The report covers the fire siege update for the U.S. Forest Service’s Region 5.

****

The personnel working our fires are making significant progress towards containment.  Although clear skies did increase fire behavior good progress continues with resources on hand.
Up north the Mad River Complex is on top of our priority list.  The complex is being managed by the Northern Rockies IMT1 (Turman).  The team is also managing the Route Complex.
Both complexes are experiencing active burning throughout the night with single tree and group tree torching.  Containment percentages on both complexes are rising and hopefully this incoming weather will help increase those numbers.
 If everything goes as planned we will be demobilizing Area Command over the weekend.  All indications are that the Area Command Team was an asset and benefit to the Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers. The coordination between the Forest Agency Administrators, Fire Staff, the Coordination Center, and the Area Command Team worked very well and provided clarity for roles and responsibilities during large incidents.
 In South Ops the Rough Fire is our top priority.  CA Type 2 IMT (Cooper) remains in command of the North Zone of the fire and CA Type 1 IMT 3 (Vontillow) remains in command of the South Zone of the fire.  Unfortunately Hwy 180 remains closed to through traffic and all forest closures remain in place.
In the South Zone, efforts in the Ten Mile drainage have significantly reduced the structure threat to commercial and residential structures in the Hume Lake area.  Critical line construction is near completion from Hwy 180 to the Kings River.  The fire does continue to spread east and into the Boulder Creek drainage. In the North Zone, the corner of the fire at the confluence of the Middle and North Forks of the Kings River has been secured. The fire reached the river mid-morning Wednesday.
This fire is receiving a lot of attention from many interested individuals and groups.  I think it’s important to remember that all fires on NFS lands in California have protection objectives, and none are being ‘managed’ specifically for additional resource benefit Forest Plan objectives.  Safety and fiscal risks relative to strategies and tactics with low probabilities of success are not being pursued:  all fires have suppression strategies, including the Cabin Fire on the Sequoia NF which is using a ‘confinement’ suppression strategy.  The Rough Fire on the Sierra NF, and now on the Sequoia NF, from its inception has had a suppression strategy, as have all fires on the Shasta Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests.
We have been quite successful in implementing salvage efforts for the past few years.   We have completed the NEPA process for several large projects in less than a year and although litigated we have prevailed in both District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.    With the experience we gained, the region has worked to develop a streamline approach to request and get approvals for Emergency Situations Determinations from the Chief.  We have received approval from the Chief on 100% of all ESDs (possibly Ecological Site Descriptions) requested in the last three years, which effectively shortens the time from planning to project advertisement.
In addition we have been successful with requesting and obtaining approvals from the Council of Environmental Quality for alternative arrangements.   As a region, over the past 2 years, alternative arrangements have been granted by CEQ for the Rim Fire (Stanislaus) and King Fire (El Dorado NF).
With this emphasis on fire salvage, we do have some challenges that we are working to overcome.  One item that has been an issue is industry capacity, especially due to the amount of salvage available from private land.   Another issue has been capacity of personnel; currently we have most of our resource specialists serving as resource advisors or they are on Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation Teams. This other priority work for our specialists does have an effect on our startup time for the salvage analysis efforts.
Although, these challenges exist, the region will continue to emphasize salvage as this tool is vital to making our communities, roads, administrative sites and trails safe for our publics.   However important, we must balance salvage, reforestation and proactive forest restoration treatments in order to recover resilient forests.     To achieve timely and legally defensible projects, we will use all the tools (ESDs, Alternative Arrangement, and Categorical Exclusions) to restore our nation’s forest.   Your voice and written support for these salvage efforts will strengthen the rationale and importance of these projects.
As I close I want to mention that many of the out of state resources that came to help us have been returned to their home units to supplement thinly stretched firefighters in their local unit suppression efforts.  We really can’t say “thank you” enough to all those who responded during our time of critical need.  I am sure we will be returning the favor down the road.  I am also sure we can all remember what it felt like to be working on a fire and knowing that your town back home was threatened.  It shows some real professionalism and grace to keep working while you’d rather be back home.
As might be expected all of the complexes have postponed repair work for now.  The R5 GACC’s have made resources typically held for repair work available for reassignment in the other geographic areas with critical needs.  When fire activity has calmed we will get the crews back for repair work and I am anticipating we will be hosting them for some time.
Randy Moore
Regional Forester
Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Region
Share