How fire spreads in the Olympic rain forest

This video illustrates how the Paradise Fire is spreading through the rain forest in Olympic National Park in Washington. The fire easily climbs up the lichen and moss on a tree then drops burning embers to the ground or onto an adjacent tree branch where it can continue to spread.

The fire started May 5 and has burned 1,520 acres. It is being managed by a team from the National Incident Management Organization (NIMO).


Wildfire briefing, July 9, 2015

Automatic camera system detects fire, leads to stranded mom and newborn baby

A new camera system designed to detect the first signs of wildfire smoke in a forest, did just that in northern California a couple of weeks ago not long after the cameras were installed. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Red Bluff Daily News:

…The story began two weeks ago when a pregnant Amber Pangborn reportedly went into labor while driving on the outskirts of Oroville, took a shortcut and got lost. Eventually her car ran out of gas and she was stranded on the side of a road in the Plumas National Forest. There was no cell phone service.

She told a Chico TV station that she laid out a sleeping bag in the back seat of her car and gave birth to her daughter, whom she named Marisa. She survived for three days on bottled water and apples and fended off bees and mosquitoes.

Desperate, she started a brush fire with a lighter and a can of hair spray. The fire was detected by the PG&E-funded wildfire detection camera systems, which use integrated GIS-Data to pinpoint fire start locations.

The images were sent to a dispatch center, which alerted Butte County fire officials who worked with their counterparts in the Plumas National Forest to send a helicopter. The woman and her newborn daughter were rescued and taken to an Oroville hospital.

The $2 million system, which PG&E funded to detect wildfires in key, remote locations in Northern and Central California, worked exactly as it was intended, said Mike Weber, battalion chief for Butte County Fire Department in Oroville…

Iowa political candidate bashes fire trucks use in chief’s funeral

Rhonda Appelgate, a write-in candidate for the city council in Nevada, Iowa was incensed that fire trucks participated in a procession honoring a recently deceased fire chief, Mark Farren. She wrote on Facebook that it was “another example of inappropriate use of our emergency services and vehicles.” She went on to say, “We do not use emergency personnel, or employees, to honor people, and firefighters, police, soldiers, EMS, etc. are just people like all of us. I am sorry for Mark’s family, but I need to address this issue as a potential city representative … I will make sure that our resources are no longer abused.”

Firefighters from Mexico assist with fires in Alberta


Five dozen firefighters from Mexico are in Edmonton Thursday getting ready to help fight wildfires in northern Alberta.

The 62 brigadistas will join the 1,700 firefighters currently working in the province.

Firefighter Hector Trejo says the firefighting in the state of Jalisco season ended a week ago, about the time they received the request to come to Alberta.

“For most of the guys it’s their passion to fight fires, get to know the forest, and what a better way to do it than in another country and helping others,” he said.

One of the biggest adjustments for his crew will be using more water than they traditionally use against the flames, Trejo said.

Oregon fire department offers free housing for volunteers

The Forest Grove Rural Fire District in Oregon is offering free housing for firefighters who will live at the fire station and volunteer to fight fires.

From OregonLive:

The fire district is offering free rent in a manufactured home next door to its Gales Creek station in hopes of assembling a more reliably staffed volunteer firefighter pool.

The house will be home to any four volunteer or intern firefighters who want a free private bedroom and bathroom with utilities paid in a rural setting. In return, the firefighters agree to respond to fire and emergency calls in the area.

“It’s just really tough out there to find volunteers,” said Forest Grove Fire Marshal Dave Nemeyer of the rural fire district, which spans from Forest Grove to near Banks and deep into the Tillamook State Forest.

Footprint in Alaska

One of the Pennsylvania firefighters helping out with fires in Alaska, sent back this photo.

Bear footprint

(Via PA Wildfire News)


It was very dry in the far west and northwest during the first six months of 2015

Precipitation, January-June, 2015If the brown areas above have a hot and dry summer, wildland firefighters will be spending a lot of time over the next couple of months in California, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

And, those same areas were warmer than normal during the first half of 2015. Some were the warmest ever recorded for the period.

Temperature Jan-June 2015

I stopped trying to predict the nature of fire seasons a long time ago. Pre-season weather is a significant factor, but more important is the weather during the fire season. So ask me again in September how busy firefighters in the west will be this summer.


Acres burned in Alaska and Canada far ahead of average

Big Beaver Creek Fire

The Alaska Highway was closed to all traffic due to aggressive fire behavior observed on the Big Beaver Creek Fire in British Columbia Wednesday afternoon. The highway is closed between 386 km (Mile 250) and 418 km (Mile 260). British Columbia Wildfire Service photo.

It is barely mid-summer and wildfire activity in Alaska and western Canada has been much higher than average for this time of the year. As of July 8, the number of acres burned in Alaska is the second highest ever recorded for an entire year — 2004 holds the present record, but on a year to date basis, the state now is ahead of the same date in 2004 for acres burned.

The area blackened in Canada already exceeds the annual 10-year average for an entire year. The government has activated about 1,000 military personnel to help fight wildfires in Saskatchewan. Firefighters from eastern Canada have been mobilized to assist in the western provinces, and one BAe-146 air tanker from Missoula, Montana is also lending a hand.

Canada weeks area burned through July 1, 2015

Canada area burned on a weekly basis through July 1, 2015.

Alaska is also receiving help from firefighters in the lower 48 states. For example on Tuesday five 20-person crews were dispatched from California to Alaska, while snow flurries have been occurring for the past several days on the Inyo National Forest in California. Other Forests in the state received rain on Wednesday.

Here are some wildfire numbers, current on July 8, 2015:

  • United States: 30,017 fires, 3,821,726 acres
  • Alaska: 650 fires, 3,208,107 acres
  • Canada: 4,672 fires, 6,546,562 acres
Canada fires, July 8, 2015

Canada fires, July 8, 2015

Alaska Fires July 8, 2015

Alaska Fires July 8, 2015


Campers rescued by boat on the Cape Horn Fire

A boater rescued campers who were stranded on the shore of a lake while the Cape Horn Fire was burning close to their camp site. The campers appeared to have a boat in their small cove that was partially submerged in Lake Pend Oreille. Near the beginning of the video you can hear a voice saying, “hey those people are waving to us.”

The people in the boat from which the video was shot were considering going in to rescue the individuals, and shouted “You’ll have to leave your stuff!”, but later another boat arrived that picked up the campers.

These photos are screen grabs from the video that was uploaded to YouTube by John Stenberg on June 6.

The 1,380-acre Cape Horn Fire in northern Idaho has destroyed six homes and two outbuildings. The incident management team reports that a fireline has been established around “much of the fire”, however some evacuations are still in effect.

Cape Horn Fire
Cape Horn Fire

Cape Horn Fire

The Tweet below is from a reporter, and includes some good photos of the fire. Click on them to see larger versions.