Western Governors applaud Interior for seeking state input on rangeland fire

Western Governors have expressed their appreciation to the U.S. Department of the Interior for seeking state input regarding policies and strategies to prevent and manage rangeland fire, as well as restore rangeland after fires.

The governors’ outreach also included comments on Secretarial Order 3336: A Set of Longer Term Actions and Activities, Draft Final Report. The comments were included in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewellsigned by WGA Chairman and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Highlights of the comments included:

  • Improving Cooperation and Coordination: Western Governors support removal of policy barriers that prevent effective sharing of resources for wildland fire and land management activities.
  • Enhancing Local Response Capabilities: Western Governors embrace DOI’s plan for increased technical assistance to local communities that enhances their ability to play a critical role in initial response to rangeland fires.
  • Voluntary Conservation Efforts: The governors endorse expanded technical support and incentives for livestock producers to voluntarily implement targeted fuel treatments and grazing methods to improve sagebrush-steppe habitat.
  • State Science and Expertise: The governors urge federal agencies to obtain and use state data and analyses as principal sources to inform design and implementation of land management actions for habitat and fuels management, and restoration projects.

Read the letter for more on those issues, as well as comments on Fuels Management, Good Neighbor Authority, Use of Non-Native Species and Removing Invasive Grasses.


Russian fire chief arrested over out of control wildfires

Putin meets with residents

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with local residents and officials of the region at a temporary shelter for people affected by recent wildfires in Abakan, the Republic of Khakassia, April 21, 2015. Photo provided by the Kremlin.

From the Moscow Times:


“Shortly after President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that officials should be held responsible for damage caused by recent wildfires in a southern Siberian region, investigators said the head of a local fire department had been arrested for negligence.

Viktor Zenkov, a district firefighting head in the Khakasia region, “did not personally go to the area affected by the fires or arrange for people and their property to be saved,” federal Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said in a statement, adding that the arrest was one of several being made.

The wildfires, believed to have originated as small-scale agricultural grass burning that grew out of control amid abnormally dry conditions, have killed at least 31 people and left about 5,000 people homeless in the region in recent weeks.

During a visit to the region on Tuesday, Putin told Governor Viktor Zimin that firefighting officials should be evaluated “for what they did and didn’t do,” state media reported. The president also told Zimin to promptly distribute aid payments to the victims of the fires and rebuild their homes.

The governor assured Putin that within the next three days the regional government will have paid 90 percent of those individuals entitled to compensation, state news agency TASS reported.

The governor said that 1,722 payments ranging in size from $200 to $2,000 have already been made. He added that the local administration was prepared to rebuild the victims’ homes by the Sept. 1 deadline set by the president.

Putin said he would return to the region in about two months to check on the progress of the work, according to a statement on the regional administration’s website. Last week during his annually televised call-in show, Putin promised $100 million in federal aid to the region.”

Siberia fire

The aftermath of one of the wildfires in Siberia. Siberia Times photo.


Yarnell Hill Fire survivor gets book deal

Brendan McDonough

Brendan McDonough speaks at the memorial service for his 19 fellow crewmembers killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert, July 9, 2013.

The only survivor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots’ tragedy during the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona has signed a book deal with a best-selling author. Brendan McDonough was serving as a lookout when the other 19 members of his crew were entrapped by the fire and killed.

Publisher’s Marketplace provides this teaser about the book:

Firefighter Brendan McDonough with NYT bestselling author Stephan Talty. The untold story from the lone survivor of the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Below is an excerpt from an article at the Arizona Republic:

A Prescott wildfire lookout who lived through the deadly Yarnell Hill blaze of 2013 signed a book deal at about the same time his sworn testimony was canceled based on concerns from his therapist that a deposition would jeopardize his treatment for post-traumatic stress.

Former Granite Mountain Hotshots member Brendan McDonough has been working with best-selling author Stephan Talty to produce a book that, according to online promotional materials, will reveal “the untold story from the lone survivor of the Yarnell Hill Fire.”

McDonough, who has retained a private attorney and an agent, barely escaped flames that killed 19 fellow hotshots June 30, 2013. Reached by phone Monday, he declined to explain why his treatment precluded sworn testimony but did not prevent participation in a book. He referred calls to his legal representative and his agent.

In an interview last week, Los Angeles-based agent Steve Fisher confirmed that a book is in the offing…


Two Michigan firefighters injured by falling tree

Two firefighters were injured April 18, one seriously, by a falling tree while working on a wildfire near Chesaning, Michigan (map). Kevin Carlton, Assistant Chief of the Chesaning Fire Department, said the firefighters were working to put out flames in a hollow tree. While they were using a chain saw the tree suddenly fell, striking the two men.

Fire Chief Scott Hall received minor injuries and is recovering at home. Firefighter Ryan McPherson is recovering from serious injuries. A gofundme account has been set up for Mr. McPherson where the following information is provided:

[He was] flown to Henry Ford Hospital for extensive surgery and recovery. He is expected to be in the hospital for several weeks followed by many months of recovery and physical therapy. Please help out our local Firefighters, any and all help is appreciated.


Florida: large wildfire near Kendall

Miami-Dade wildfire

Miami-Dade wildfire. Screen grab from WSVN viceo.

Miami-Dade County in south Florida continues to experience large wildfires pushed by strong winds and high temperatures. Firefighters have been battling a fire in Kendall since Sunday when it was slowed down at 100 acres, but weather conditions on Monday afternoon caused it to grow to 1,850 acres which required the closure of several roads in the area.

On Monday, 27 children in a Lincoln Marti daycare center were evacuated because of the smoke.


Fire threatens campus of University of Mary

University of Mary wildfire

On April 14 a wildfire burned up to the campus of the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. The entire campus and 20 nearby homes were evacuated. The staff cleared out the school buildings and dorms, and school buses were on hand to transport students without vehicles to the Lewis Goodhouse Wellness Center, at the United Tribes Technical College. The University remained closed overnight. There were no reports of damage to any structures on the campus.