National fire situation

Six MAFFS C-130 air tankers from the military have now been activated and are based at McClellan airport in Sacramento, CA and at Chico, CA. They are from Charlotte, NC, Colorado Springs, CO, and Cheyenne, WY.

The National Preparedness Level is now 4. This level can be authorized when:

Three or more Geographic Areas are experiencing incidents requiring Type 1 and 2 IMTs. Competition exists between Geographic Areas. Nationally, 60 percent of Type 1 and 2 IMTs and crews are committed.

Weather forecast for northern California

FIRE WEATHER WATCH
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SACRAMENTO CA
948 AM PDT FRI JUN 27 2008

…FIRE WEATHER WATCH FOR DRY LIGHTNING FOR THE INTERIOR MOUNTAINS INCLUDING THE SIERRA NEVADA FOOTHILLS FROM FRIDAY EVENING THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT..

.HIGH PRESSURE OVER THE DESERT SOUTHWEST IS FORECAST TO BUILD NORTHWARD ACROSS THE GREAT BASIN AND INTO NORTHERN CALIFORNIA FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. THIS WILL CAUSE SUBTROPICAL MOISTURE FROM THE DESERT SOUTHWEST TO SPREAD NORTHWARD OVER THE SIERRA NEVADA ON FRIDAY…AND OVER THE COASTAL RANGE AND NORTHERN MOUNTAINS OF SHASTA COUNTY FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY. THIS MOIST AND UNSTABLE AIR WILL RESULT IN SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE HIGHER TERRAIN. THE THUNDERSTORMS WILL LIKELY HAVE LITTLE PRECIPITATION ASSOCIATED WITH THEM FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY. LOW PRESSURE MOVING NORTHWARD ALONG THE CALIFORNIA COAST WILL CONTINUE THE CHANCES OF THUNDERSTORMS ON SUNDAY…WITH STORMS GRADUALLY BECOMING WETTER.

Infrared Aircraft

Both of the U.S. Forest Service infrared line-scanning fixed wing aircraft are working the fires in California and flying out of Redding.

The Ikhana Predator B Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operated by NASA has been ordered and will begin flying fires next week, using it’s equipment to take infrared imagery of the fires and downlink it in real time. Last year it flew missions over fires lasting from 10 to 20 hours before landing.

Update, 11:12 pm, June 27. The Ikhana will fly test flights over the Clover fire on June 28. Their first actual mission will occur July 1 when it will collect imagery over at least 10-12 fires in central and northern California.

Navy and Air Force Global Hawks as well as a U2 airframe will be flying training missions over California on Friday and Saturday.

Fire Summary (Five Day Trend)

Date

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Day

6/23

6/24

6/25

6/26

6/27

Initial Attack Fires

517

312

406

283

226

New Large Fires

25

14

12

10

6

Large Fires Contained

6

3

8

4

7

Uncontained Large Fires

37

48

52

53

56


The above 5-day summary courtesy of the NPS Morning Report

California: Gallery, Basin, Indians fires

Smoke from the Gallery/Basin Fire floats over the coastline.
Photo credit: Pam Balazer, USFS


Basin Complex

On the Los Padres National Forest south of Big Sur, the Gallery and Basin Fires have officially burned together now. On Thursday the fire continued to burn actively at the higher elevations, exhibiting extreme fire behavior. It continues to back down towards portions of Highway 1, to move south into the South Fork of the Big Sur River drainage, and north towards Manuel Peak. It is 20,763 acres and 3% contained.

Indians fire
Without the smoke from the Basin Complex shading the area, firing operations on the northwest side were initiated with better success on Thursday. It is 59,066 acres and 71% contained.

The map below shows heat, in red, orange, and black, detected by satellites, with the red areas being the most recently burned. The yellow lines are the perimeters uploaded by the incident management teams. Click on the map to see a larger version.

Smokerjumper activity in northern California

The smokejumpers have been busy.

As of 6/25 119 Jumpers Committed to these National Forests in CA:
20 Sierra
30 Shasta Trinity
42 Mendocino
10 Klamath
10 Plumas
7 Six Rivers

Boosters (out-of-area) From:
30 Redmond, OR
30 Missoula, MT
23 McCall, ID
12 Grangeville, ID
9 North Cascades-Winthrop, WA

Total of 104 Boosters
RDD jumpers 38

YTD
31 Fires
182 Jumps

Since June 20
30 Fires
177 Jumps

Weather forecast for northern California

Smoke will be another issue this morning, limiting the daytime heating and surface winds during the afternoon hours. However, later this evening and tonight winds will pick up across the far Northern Sacramento Valley and adjacent foothills. These winds will be from the N to NE at 10-20 mph across many exposed areas, along with poor nighttime humidity recovery.

Some areas in the Feather Drainages could see gusts over 35 mph late tonight thru Friday morning. Afterwards, by Friday afternoon all eyes will be on the next thunderstorm outbreak, moving in from the Sierra and shifting NW into much of Northern California through the weekend. Many of these storms could be dry.

(the above, and some of the information below, is from North Ops Predictive Services, 1900, June 25)

What this means for fire behavior-
Since Sunday June 22 the stable atmosphere has not only produced inversions that trapped smoke, but it also slowed down fire behavior due to the resistance to vertical motion and shading from the smoke. When this begins to change Thursday afternoon and Friday there could be a gradual change in venting, and an increase in fire behavior. But in some situations, a major change in rates of spread could occur in as little as 1-2 hours.

What this means for firefighters-
Smoke will lift earlier in the day allowing more options for air operations, and surface winds could become stronger. EXPECT changes in fire behavior. Have lookouts observe changes winds, visibility, and smoke behavior, such as gentle lifting changing to more rapid rising of smoke and faster growing columns.

Californnia lightning fires

Smoke grounds air tankers
Yesterday heavy smoke from the 40,000 acres burning near the north end of the Sacramento Valley kept air tankers on the ground.

Govenator: just say NO to fireworks
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenner asked residents not to buy fireworks this 4th of July. I’m with him on that. I have put out too many fireworks-caused fires. From Arnold:

“I know that the people that are selling all this stuff are going to go crazy now when I say this, but don’t buy any of the fireworks,” said Schwarzenegger, surrounded by dozens of firefighters, Monterey County law enforcement representatives and elected officials. “Don’t go out and do fireworks this year … . It’s just too dry and too dangerous to do those things.”

The governor spoke at the Basin Complex Fires incident command post at Andrew Molera State Park off Highway 1.

Courtesy of thecalifornian.com

Concow evacuated
Most of the community of Concow, east of Chico, is evacuated due to the Empire and Rim fires, part of the BTU Lightning complex which closed Hwy 70. The Empire and Rim fires will most likely burn together.

According to NCOCC: Fires in this complex are immediately threatening communities. The air was stable last night, so fire activity was minimized. The inversion layer still dominates the incident area. If the inversion layer lifts, fire intensity will greatly increase, causing additional evacuations and significant fire spread. Some of the fires are in remote areas making containment difficult and will require large numbers of hand crews.

The map below shows heat, in red, orange, and black, detected by satellites, with the red areas being the most recently burned. The yellow lines are the perimeters uploaded by the incident management teams. Click on the map to see a larger version.

InciWeb still broken
The InciWeb site, which should be the best place to go to get information about fires, is least likely to be working during multiple fire conditions due to very limited capacity. Not only is it frequently impossible for citizens to visit the site, but the fire managers are unable to upload critical information. The federal and state agencies that maintain this site need to install better servers.

Indians fire
The fire was relatively quiet yesterday due to higher humidities and shading from the smoke of the nearby Basin fire. The Team ordered evacuations in the Arroyo Seco area on the north side because of planned burnout operations, but the burn was limited due to weather conditions. It is 58,872 acres and 71% contained. (see the map below)

Basin Complex, Gallery fire
The Partington Ridge area has been evacuated. The fire is moving south into the South Fork of the Big Sur River drainage and north towards Manual Peak. The Basin and Gallery fires are within 1/2 mile of each other and are expected to merge soon. Highway 1 is still closed to non-residents. The complex is 20,600 acres and 3% contained. (see the map above)