From the Redding Record Searchlinght:
“Smokejumpers preparing for the coming fire season could be dropping into the Swasey Drive Recreation Area as early as next week.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Region 5 Smokejumpers, whose base is in Redding, will be using parts of the 1,200-acre area managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for training through the summer, said Bob Bente, the smokejumpers’ training foreman.
The spot west of town will be one of five around the north state used for training.
“It’s a new area,” he said.
Terrain in the recreation area, which is popular among mountain bikers and hikers, is similar to what smokejumpers — firefighters who get to backcountry blazes by parachute — might encounter on calls, said Francis Berg, assistant field manager in the BLM’s Redding office.
“Yet it’s close to town so they can get out there pretty quickly,” he said.
Bente said he wanted to give the public a head’s up that the chutists will be coming down. The parachutes should be visible from Placer Road near Swasey Drive, with the first jumps possibly Tuesday or Wednesday, he said.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the smokejumpers used a new jump spot south of town, he said. The sight of people parachuting from a plane caused a stir among nearby residents, including one woman who thought it could be an invasion.
“She actually contemplated getting a rifle,” Bente said.”
It appears to be under control now, but for a while there was concern for some 2,000 year old cypress trees being threatened by a fire in the Patagonia region of Argentina, according to Reuters.
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Firefighters battled forest fires in Argentina’s Patagonia region on Thursday, but thousand-year-old trees in a national park were not threatened by the flames, a provincial official said.
The fire, which government officials blamed on arsonists, started in the Alerces National Park, raising fears about damage to the park’s famous Patagonian cypress trees. The trees can live for 2,000 years or more, making some of them among the oldest living things on Earth.
“The national park is totally under control. There’s no fire and the firefighters are doing the ground maintenance work to make sure it doesn’t catch fire again,” provincial government spokesman Daniel Taito said by telephone.
However, he said the flames had ravaged some 7,400 acres (3,000 hectares) of mostly native woodland beyond the borders of the national park, which lies in the Andean region of Chubut province near the Chilean border.
Local officials ordered the few residents of the sparsely populated area to evacuate their homes.
Environment Secretary Romina Picolotti, who visited the scene, said action was being taken “to find the culprits of this arson.”
When structures are threatened by wildland fires, sprinklers are sometimes placed on roofs, but installing them means climbing on the roof. A company in Florida has developed a sprinkler that can be placed on the peak of the roof while you stand on a ladder at the side of the structure. The trick is attaching 5-foot sections of PVC pipe to the sprinkler which are then used to push the roller-mounted unit up the roof. Then a garden hose is attached to the PVC pipe. It looks like this could be a worthwhile addition to structure protection kits.
The cost for one complete unit is around $300, depending on what state it will be shipped to.
Be warned, that when you go to the site, a damn video starts playing automatically. I hate that. You can stop the video by clicking on “close video”.
At a three-day conference organized by FireSafe Montana, Wally Bennett, a Type 1 Incident Commander, told the group that climate change and fewer air tankers and hand crews are making the job of wildland firefighters more difficult.
From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
“Coming summers will bring more and bigger wildfires to the Northern Rockies. But it also will bring fewer firefighters, less equipment for them to use, and more and more homes to protect in flammable landscapes.
That’s the message spelled out Tuesday by climate and firefighting experts at a conference at the Bozeman Holiday Inn.
“We’ve got a lot less of the toys we need to do the job we’re doing out there,” said Wally Bennett, a veteran commander of a Type I incident command team, the type of force that tackles large and complex blazes.
Bennett was one of the speakers at the three-day conference organized by FireSafe Montana, a fledgling nonprofit group that is trying to motivate landowners, county governments, developers and other entities to do more to protect private land before wildfire reaches it.
Several years ago, Bennett said, firefighting teams had 32 large retardant planes available to them. Last year, they had 16.
The number of 20-person hand teams has declined from roughly 750 to about 450 over the same time period, he said, and that number is likely to fall further.
“There’s not enough to go around,” he said.
That’s partly because a rookie firefighter can earn about the same pay flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
Meanwhile, a warming climate is bringing earlier snowmelt along with hotter, drier summers, said Faith Anne Heisch, a climate researcher who works with Steve Running, the University of Montana professor who was part of the Nobel-prize winning International Panel on Climate Change.”
The NewWest.net site also has a lengthy article on the conference.
The U.S. District Court Judge cleared Mark Rey of the contempt charges yesterday. From the Missoulian:
“U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey walked out of federal court a free man Wednesday in Missoula, wearing not an orange inmate’s jumpsuit but the gray business suit with American flag lapel pin he had donned for his contempt hearing.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy cleared Rey, the Bush administration’s top forest official, and the Forest Service of contempt and withdrew his threat to jail Rey or ground all fire retardant air tankers until the agency evaluated the environmental impact of the chemical slurry.
Molloy did not rule on the merits of the Forest Service’s environmental analysis, and the watchdog group whose lawsuit prompted the showdown said it planned to take new legal action to challenge the agency’s finding that aerial retardant causes little harm to fish and other aquatic creatures.
“We accomplished what we wanted to do, which was to make the Forest Service follow the law,” said Andy Stahl, director of the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, based in Eugene, Ore.
In his testimony, Rey apologized for the Forest Service’s tardiness in following the judge’s order to complete an environmental analysis of the potential harm from ammonium phosphate, the primary ingredient in retardant dropped on wildfires.”