BTU Complex slows down with higher humidities

Higher relative humidities for the last two days have made it easier for firefighters to construct lines around the BTU or Butte County Complex near Paradise, California east of Chico. This trend should continue with temperatures predicted to be around 90 on Sunday and Monday with the humidity being in the mid-30s during the day and the high 60s at night. The wind should be 3-9 mph mostly out of the southwest. The fire is now 53,000 acres and is 65% contained.

Here is a map from the CalFire web site updated yesterday. Click on it or the link to see a larger version.

Basin fire burns across Chews Ridge

The Basin fire east of Big Sur exhibited less aggressive behavior yesterday, with the exception of the northeast side where it burned across Chews Ridge. The fire spotted across the indirect dozer line near the Mira Observatory that had been in place for over a week, advancing 3/4 of a mile north beyond the line while consuming several hundred acres in the White Oaks area.

Firefighters are planning on corralling this slopover with a new 8-mile indirect dozer line making a big loop centered around Anastasia Canyon.

On the north side, they continued to make progress firing out the line. The slopover on the south side where the fire burned across the line on the Rodeo Flats trail is still un-lined.

The weather forecast for the northeast side of the fire for Sunday and Monday predicts temperatures around 90, with mostly northwest or southwest winds at 8-13, and relative humidity in the mid-20s during the day and around 80% at night.

The map below shows the advances the fire made on Saturday. The fire is 116,829 acres and is 61% contained.

Man survives BTU complex in hog trough

When the BTU (or Butte County) fire burned through the town of Concow, California on Tuesday, destroying 50 homes, Tom Tirey, 49, took refuge in a hog trough after refusing to evacuate. He spent two hours in the trough while the fire burned through his property. He survived, but his trailer and barn didn’t.

“We’d been through so many evacuations and false warnings. You cry wolf too many times. This time it really did it,” he said.

Wildfire Today talked with a resident of the Paradise area who said that yesterday morning the inversion trapped the smoke, preventing most of the aircraft from working the fire, but in the afternoon it cleared enough that air tankers and helicopters were able to assist the firefighters on the ground. Today, he said the smoke which had been extremely thick for days, had cleared on the south end of the fire, and that he “can actually breathe”.

The number of houses that are currently threatened by the fire has been reduced from 3,800 to 300 by CalFire. The fire is 49,500 acres and is 55% contained.

An autopsy is scheduled for today or tomorrow to confirm the indenty and the cause of death of the person whose body was found yesterday in a burned house in Concow.

Thanks to Joel for contributing some of the information above.

CA: Basin Complex slows

After the big runs on Thursday, the Basin fire east of Big Sur slowed down in comparison on Friday, due in part to the marine layer and the smoke. It is about 5,000 acres larger than reported yesterday morning, and is now 113,827 acres and is 41% contained.

Crews continued firing from the dozer line on the north side, east of Big Pines, and the fire was active north and east of Uncle Sam Mountain. Additional acres also burned north of Tassajara near Church Divide and China campground.

The 500-700 acre slopover south of the Rodeo Flats trail on the southeast corner did not get any larger yesterday, thanks to aggressive work on the ground and from the air. Most of it is still un-lined, but the east side burned up against the Indians fire. There is about two miles of line left to construct on the west side of the slopover.

The five people at the Zen Center at Tassajara are doing OK, after the fire burned around them a couple of days ago. One additional outbuilding burned yesterday.

The weather will be moderating a bit for the next day or two, with higher humidities and a few clouds.

The map was current as of late yesterday, Friday.

747 air tanker soon under contract?

Evergreen submitted their contract proposal to the U.S. Forest Service today and James Baynes, the Supertanker Sales Manager, told us that they expect a contract to be awarded “shortly”. The 747 “Supertanker” can carry 20,000 gallons of retardant, about seven times more than a typical large air tanker. Like other air tankers, it will not put out any fires by itself, but it’s another tool in the firefighter’s tool box, at a time when we need more.

New feature– chat about fire in "Lively"

Google just introduced a new program called Lively. It is a 3-D chat room that uses avatars, much like Second Life but not as complicated. We have created a room in Lively called Wildfire Today (who would have guessed!) which you can enter and chat with others by clicking on the icon on the left side of this page.

It is an experiment and we’ll see how it develops. It can be a place for real time communication among those interested in fire, especially wildland fire. We can discuss fires that are currently burning, wildland fire issues, ask questions, tell war stories, or just shoot the breeze.

HERE is an article that gives more information about Lively. You will need Windows XP or Vista to run it, and the application to download is about 10 MB.