Long Pine Key Fire in Everglades National Park

The fire is burning between the Main Park Road and the Nike Missile Base.

map Long Pine Key Fire
The yellow, brown, and red dots represent heat on the Long Pine Key Fire detected by a satellite.

The Long Pine Key Fire, which started on April 10, has burned about 4,709 acres in Everglades National Park in south Florida. It started near Long Pine Key Campground and with 20 mph winds quickly spread through pine rocklands and prairies south of the Main Park Road. It has threatened several park resources and structures and reduced visibility on roads.

A portion of the fire is burning in an area recently treated with a prescribed fire. The reduction in fuels benefits firefighters, making the fire easier to control.

map Long Pine Key Fire
Map of the Long Pine Key Fire in Everglades National Park. The Park reports the latest data shows the fire has burned 4,709 acres.

As of April 12, the Main Park Road is open. There is a 2-mile section of the Main Park Road towards Flamingo where cars are being escorted by Law Enforcement rangers. Royal Palm and Flamingo Visitor Centers are open. Research Road and the Nike Missile Base remain closed.

Red Flag Warnings in four states April 12, 2016

Red Flag Warnings, April 12, 2016

The National Weather service has posted Red Flag Warnings for areas in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. The warning is in effect this afternoon into the very early evening. Forecasters expect southwest winds of 20 to 35 mph and minimum relative humidity values close to 25 percent.

wildfire weather April 12, 2016

The maps were current as of 9:45 a.m. MDT on Tuesday. 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.

Early season fire in Bob Marshall Wilderness Area

The Elk Hill Fire has burned 1,086 acres in the Wilderness Area.

Above: The Elk Hill Fire. Inciweb photo (undated)

(UPDATED at 10:13 a.m. MDT April 12, 2016)

The Elk Hill Fire in northwest Montana remains at about 1,086 acres with no significant growth yesterday, according to the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Tuesday fire personnel will focus on tying the fireline into the old fire area (from 11 years ago) and the existing trail system on the north end. A Type 2 hand crew going into the fire today will focus on mop-up activities on the south end of the fire.

The forecast calls for some precipitation to reach the fire Wednesday night and Thursday, which could help suppression efforts.


(Originally published at 4:23 p.m. MDT April 11, 2016)

Smokejumpers from three bases made their first jumps this year onto a real fire Sunday in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The eight jumpers from Missoula, West Yellowstone and Grangeville departed from Missoula to help suppress the fire that has been burning since Saturday near Lower North Fork Sun River southeast of the Forest Service cabin on Cabin Creek.

Much of the fuel being consumed is grass and downfall within the footprint of the 2005 Hazard Lake Fire. Kathy Bushnell, spokesperson for the Forest Service, said the fuel moisture in some locations is more like what you would see in mid-summer — very dry.

About 40 people are assigned to the fire along with one Type 1 helicopter and two Type 2 helicopters.

Elk Hills Fire Montana
Elk Hills Fire. Photo by Besmer at about 4 p.m. April 10.
Elk Hills Fire.
Elk Hills Fire. USFS photo (undated).

The Elk Hills Fire is 33 miles west-southwest of Choteau and 73 miles west-northwest of Great Falls.

Advice from The Daily Show for when your entire state is on fire

A blast from the past. In 2002 Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show’s “Colorado Bureau Chief”, gave advice for when your entire state is on fire.

(If the video does not work, you can try it at the Comedy Central website.)

Wildfire Sinners and Cool Heads

This video features Dr. Jennifer A. Ziegler’s research into the history, development, and implementation of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders. After the 1956 Inaja Fire killed 11 firefighters near Julian, California a task force reviewed the records of 16 tragedy fires that occurred from 1937 to 1956, concentrating on the 5 fires that killed 10 or more people. They developed a list of what those fatal fires had in common, calling them “sins of omission which our trained men recognize as sins” — things that the firefighters otherwise knew what to do, but simply forgot in a critical situation.

Jennifer Ziegler
Jennifer A. Ziegler. Valparaiso Univ. photo.

The task force also looked at near misses that had a positive outcome. They decided those firefighters were successful because the “cool heads”, as they called them in 1957, sized up the changes in fire behavior in time to get the men to safety.

In the video Dr. Ziegler also talks about how beginning in the 1990s investigation teams studying fatalities sometimes used the Orders as a checklist.

Ms. Ziegler is known to many wildland firefighters through her research and conference presentations on communications in the management and practice of safety in wildland firefighting. Some of her findings were part of the 2009 standardized fire refresher training.

She has taught at Baylor, Purdue, Notre Dame, and Valparaiso University where she is now the Dean of the Graduate School and Continuing Education. Below is an excerpt from her profile at Valparaiso:

…In addition to her passion for graduate education, Dean Ziegler is passionate about conducting research in organizational communication that makes a difference. Dean Ziegler was first exposed to the culture of wildland firefighting while a graduate student at the University of Colorado. Throughout the last decade, Dean Ziegler’s research has focused solely on communication in the management and practice of safety in wildland firefighting. Her work at the intersection of rhetoric, culture, and communication theory has helped the fire community understand the history and cultural legacy of bureaucratic rules in accident investigations; as a result, she is frequently invited to speak at fire conferences, workshops, and refreshers.

She has also consulted with agencies on high-profile incidents and related initiatives, helping to illuminate cultural and organizational factors that may contribute to unwanted outcomes. Her recent work centers on how “talk about talk” (metadiscourse) shapes the way people interact during intentional culture change. Soon she will join an interdisciplinary team of scholars (including two of her former graduate students) on a Joint Fire Science funded grant to study risk perception and collective sense-making through radio communications on the fireline.


Radio headsets for dozer operators

Adventure Fire
Dozer puts in fire line on the Adventure Fire north of Placerville, California, July 16, 2015. CAL FIRE photo.

Should all heavy equipment operators have access to radio headsets?Tim Banaszak pointed out to us that while working on a fire, communication between an operator and the Heavy Equipment Boss (HEQB) can be difficult or impossible. The equipment makes so much noise that it can be a challenge to hear the radio. Even relying on hand signals is not reliable due to dust and vegetation, Mr. Banaszak said.

We are still throwing rocks or sticks to get the operator’s attention, YIKES! The high RPM noise makes a portable [radio] useless. All other fireline operations have a clear and reliable communication link. Just hearing the word STOP can prevent equipment damage, an injury, or even worse.

He suggests that a cache of headsets for radios be available that could be checked out at a fire with the operator’s portable radio.

What do you think? Is this a problem that needs solving?