Colorado: man fleeing cops drives on rims, sparks grass fire

Castle Rock Fire Colorado State Patrol photoA driver suspected of being intoxicated failed to stop for police Friday night and led them on a chase on and off Interstate 25 in the Castle Rock area south of Denver (map). While trying to escape from the cops, he crashed into four other vehicles, one in a parking lot and three more on the Interstate.

Officers deployed stop sticks which flattened his tires but he kept going, eventually running on just the wheel rims, leaving a shower of sparks behind which ignited a grass fire. The suspected drunk driver and two crash victims in other vehicles were transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police have identified the driver as Garrett Neugebauer, 41, of Peyton, Colorado. He faces 18 charges.

The photos were provided by the Colorado State Patrol.

Castle Rock Fire Castle Rock Fire

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Van Dyke Fire, south of Bridgeport, California

(UPDATED at 7:52 p.m. PST, February 8, 2015)

Below is information provided by the U.S. Forest Service Sunday afternoon about the Van Dyke Fire on both sides of Highway 395 south of Bridgeport, California and north of Point Ranch.

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“U.S. Forest Service – Inyo National Forest
Van Dyke Fire Final Update

The Van Dyke Fire has been mapped at 450 acres and is 75% contained.

The fire is in grass and sage fuels and has received measurable moisture. More rain and snow is in the forecast in the next few days.

Fire crews are improving fireline today and mopping up lingering hotspots. Crews expect to fully contain the fire tomorrow morning.

Initial attack response was by local fire departments and the Humboldt-Tioyabe National Forest. Bridgeport and Lee Vining Fire Departments were instrumental during initial attack and helped prevent structure loss.

Highway 395 is opened and all evacuations have been lifted. Additionally, power service has been restored. Verizon cell service remains down at this time.

The SCE power sub-station received damage from both fire and wind from the storm; repair work on the station was completed last night.

Multiple agencies have responded to the fire including Bridgeport, Antelope Valley, Lee Vining, Mammoth Lakes, and June Lake Fire Departments, Mono County, CHP, Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, as well as Bureau of Land Management, Bishop Field Office and U.S. Forest Service (Humboldt-Tioyabe and Inyo National Forests).

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

This is the last update for the Van Dyke Fire unless there is something significant to report.”

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(UPDATED at 10:15 a.m. February 7, 2015)

According to an update from the U.S. Forest Service the Van Dyke Fire has burned about 305 acres on both sides of Highway 395 south of Bridgeport, California and north of Point Ranch.

The fire is burning in grass and sage. Light rain was falling on the fire Saturday morning and the winds have subsided. Fire crews plan to take advantage of these conditions for containment efforts today.

Initial attack response was by the Humboldt-Tioyabe National Forest, but the fire is also on a Bureau of Land Management response area.

All evacuations have been lifted. Residents of the Evans Track (south of the Bridgeport Ranger Station) had been previously evacuated.

Highway 395 has re-opened. Cell phone service and power are down at this time.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Incident Commander is calling it 30 percent contained.

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(Originally published at 7:40 p.m. PST, November 6, 2015)

The Van Dyke Fire (initially referred to as the Point Ranch Fire) is estimated to be 300 acres. The fire is burning south of Bridgeport, east of Highway 395, and north of Point Ranch.

Initial attack response was by the Humboldt-Tioyabe National Forest, but the fire is burning on Bureau of Land Management response area.

Homes are threatened. Residents of the Evans Track (south of the Bridgeport Ranger Station) have been evacuated. The Bridgeport Memorial Hall is open as a shelter.

The fire is burning in grass and sage. Sustained and gusting winds are making response difficult.

Multiple agencies have responded to the fire including Lee Vining, Mammoth Lakes, and June Lake Fire Departments, as well as Bureau of Land Management, Bishop Field Office and U.S. Forest Service (Humboldt-Tioyabe and Inyo National Forests).

Highway 395 remains closed between Bridgeport and Lee Vining. Additionally, cell phone service is power are down at this time.

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Round Fire in California causes evacuations

(UPDATE at 7:50 a.m. PST, February 10, 2015)

Beginning on Monday residents were allowed into the fire area. It is still reported to be 7,000 acres and the Incident Commander is calling it 95 percent contained. This will be our last report on the fire unless there are major new developments.

(UPDATE at 1:30 p.m. PST, February 8, 2015)

CAL FIRE Public Information Officer Daniel Berlant confirmed that 40 residences burned in the Round Fire north of Bishop, California. An additional five were damaged. Their web site has been reporting that “40 residences and outbuildings” were destroyed.

Map, Round Fire

Click HERE to view a zoomable version of the map of the Round Fire.

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(UPDATED at 8:45 a.m. PST, February 8, 2015)

Round fire

Round Fire February 6, 2015. Jim Stimson photo via J.McDavid and @bbdd333.

There has been no major change in the status of the Round fire north of Bishop, California. It is still listed at 7,000 acres but the incident commander has raised the containment to 65 percent.

CAL FIRE has still not broken down the number of residences vs. outbuildings that have been destroyed. They are lumped together for a total of 40.

Evacuations still remain in effect. Downed power lines make re-entry hazardous for homeowners. Trees damaged by fire are being assessed and tagged as hazards for removal.

The county sheriff’s office has assembled a list of resources for residents affected by the fire.

Round Fire

Round Fire. Photo via Inyo County Sheriff.

Round Fire map 2-7-2015

Click here to download a higher-res version of this map.

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(UPDATED at 6:10 p.m. PST, February 7, 2015)

The Associated Press is quoting CAL FIRE Captain Liz Brown a saying “40 residences and several outbuildings were destroyed” in the Round Fire north of Bishop, California.

CAL FIRE is saying “40 residences and outbuildings” were destroyed.

The Incident Commander is calling it 7,000 acres and 50 percent contained.

The Owens Valley weather station has recorded rain off and on since midnight, with the latest being 0.06 inch between 1 and 2 p.m. today.

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(UPDATED at 10:06 a.m. PST, February 7, 2015)

CAL FIRE has revised the size of the Round Fire. Now they say it has burned 7,000 acres. The 133 percent increase, from 3,000 acres reported at 7 a.m., was due to better mapping.

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(UPDATED at 9:05 a.m. PST, February 7, 2015)

The Round fire north of Bishop, California has burned 3,000 acres and 20 structures and outbuildings, according to a Saturday morning update from CAL FIRE.

The towns of Paradise and Swall Meadows are still under a mandatory evacuation order. Downed power lines and venting propane tanks make re-entry for residents dangerous.

Significant rainfall stopped the forward spread of the fire around 2 a.m. on Saturday. The area continues to receive a small amount of rain Saturday morning — 0.01 inch between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.

The Incident Commander is calling it 30 percent contained.

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(UPDATED at 7:25 a.m. PST, February 7, 2015)

Round Fire 3D map

A 3D map of the general location of the Round Fire west of Highway 395. The green line is the county line. (click to enlarge)

The Round Fire north of Bishop, California near Swall Meadows and Round Valley has burned one residence and an outbuilding, according to information from CAL FIRE at 9:15 p.m. on February 6. The fire had burned 500 acres at the time of their report. It started at about 2 p.m. on Friday.

A satellite flyover at 12:30 a.m. PST on Saturday detected some scattered heat in the Swall Meadows area, but the relatively light fuels will not retain heat for very long, making it difficult for the infrared equipment on the satellite to detect heat hours after the fire passes through an area.

On Friday the strong winds made it impossible for fixed or rotary wing aircraft to work the fire.

Between midnight and 6 a.m. on Saturday the Owens Valley weather station recorded 0.27 inch of precipitation. Saturday morning the chance of rain is predicted to be 100 percent, but by 10 a.m. it should decrease to 46 percent. Throughout the day on Saturday the additional precipitation could amount to about 0.05 inch.

According to CALTRANS Highway 395 is open, after being closed earlier due to the fire. The wind warning for high profile vehicles has also been dropped.

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Round Fire

Round Fire. Photo by California Dept. of Transportation.

(Originally published at 6:10 p.m. PST, February 6, 2015)

A vegetation fire north of Bishop, California west of Highway 395 has required the evacuation of two communities in the northern portion of the Round Valley area. Residents of Swall Meadows and Paradise approximately 10 miles north of Bishop are under mandatory evacuation orders.

At about 5:45 p.m. local time the Inyo County Sheriff Office said that the fire had burned 100 acres.

CAL FIRE update said erratic winds have caused the fire to spread in variable directions. There is an unconfirmed report that at one point winds were gusting to 70 mph. Highway 395 was closed to high profile vehicles at 7 p.m. local time due to the wind.

Round Fire

Round Fire. Photo by Inyo County Sheriff’s Office.

Agencies responding include CalFIRE, Bishop Volunteer Fire Department, CHP, Paradise Volunteer Fire Department, Forest Service, BLM, and Inyo Sheriff’s Office.

An evacuation center has been established at the Crowley Lake Community Center, at 458 S. Landing Rd Crowley Lake, CA.

Friday morning the National Weather Service issued the following wind warning. The fire started in the upper-right of the map, north of Bishop.

NWS wind advisoryPrecipitation shows up on radar east of the area, and the weather forecast predicts a 53 percent chance of rain after midnight, with accumulations of about 0.10 inch by dawn. The forecast calls for 17 mph southwest winds gusting to 26, decreasing after midnight to 1 to 7 mph, with the relative humidity over 80 percent.

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NSW sends 150 firefighters to assist in Western Australia

Firefighters at Sydney airport

This photo was posted at about 3 p.m. MST, February 2 (U.S. time) on the Facebook page for Shane Fitzsimmons, the Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service in Australia. The firefighters from New South Wales are flying to Western Australia for five days to help with the large fires currently burning there. The latest report is that  80,500 hectares (197,000 acres) have been burnt in the blaze near Northcliffe.

Here is how the above photo was described:

Nice to catch up with our interstate fire fighting assistance team at Sydney Airport this morning, flying out to assist their colleagues in WA. 150 fire fighters and management specialists will be in WA for next 5 days and returning home Friday. The team incorporates members from NSW RFS, FR, NPWS, Forestry and Ambulance and are partnered with their ACT colleagues. Thanks again to all involved.

A day earlier, Commissiner Fitzsimmons wrote:

NSW RFS State Operations is currently coordinating the deployment of approximately 170 Fire Fighters, Incident Management and Specialist personnel to assist colleagues in Western Australia. This team will consist of personnel from NSW (NSWRFS, FRNSW, NPWS, FCNSW & ASNSW) as well as the ACT and NT. In addition to this request received last night, we have also provided an Air Crane, 16 tonnes of foam and 44 tonnes of retardant in recent days. Thanks everyone for offering to assist, our interstate colleagues certainly appreciate it. For latest information on WA bush fires follow this link
http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/alerts/Pages/default.aspx

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Legislation introduced in Montana to fine feds for wildfire smoke

Beaver Fire

Smoke rises from the Beaver Fire northwest of Yreka, California, August 12, 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

In recent summers, Gallatin Valley residents have sometimes had to endure poor air quality from wildfire smoke, so a Bozeman legislator wants Montana to be able to fine the federal government for that.

In a Natural Resources Committee hearing this week, Rep. Tom Burnett, R-Bozeman, presented House Bill 340, which would require the Department of Environmental Quality “to fine the federal government for fires on certain federal lands that contribute to exceedance of air quality standards.”

Burnett provided the committee a graphic of the smoke from wildfires in 2012 and the readings from the 11 DEQ monitoring stations in Montana, most of which registered unhealthy air quality on various days.
“Smoke pollution compromises public health. Under this bill, the DEQ determines whether mismanaged federal lands are responsible for any part of breaching of the air standard. If they are, the federal government is corrected in the same way an industrial polluter would be,” Burnett said at the Wednesday hearing. “Federal land managers should manage the forests so it does not cause air pollution.”…

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