El Cariso Hot Shot Reunion

My old crew, the El Cariso Hot Shots, is having a reunion April 11-12 at Temecula, CA. I won’t be able to attend, but I dug out some of my old photos from 1970-1972. If you click on them, you can see slightly enlarged versions.

Doing PT’s in 1971. We had to wear our boots while we ran. Don’t ask me why.

Dining at fire camp.

Taken in 1972 on the San Bernardino NF after we got chased out of the fire and hung out at a safety zone.

Barry Koncinsky running the chain saw.

A TBM making a drop near our fireline in 1972.

Below are some much more recent photos of El Cariso, from YouTube. Be warned it has some loud music.

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Montana: Legislative panel warns about increasing fire risk

A legislative committee in Montana submitted an interim report on Friday recognizing that fires are getting larger and more difficult to suppress. Here’s an excerpt from the Billings Gazette:

“A draft legislative report warns of the likelihood that towns will burn and people will be injured or killed if Montana does not change how it deals with wildland fires.

The report was released Friday by the Fire Suppression Interim Committee as lawmakers plan a series of meetings across the state to come up with better ways to fight fires.

Last year in Montana, more than 700,000 acres burned in 72 fires tracked by the federal government. Most were sparked by lightning.

The draft report predicted more bad fire seasons because of extended drought across much of the state, rising demand for firefighting resources and more homes built in rural areas prone to fire.

“With limited resources,” the report concludes, “it is likely that communities will burn and firefighters and members of the public will be injured or killed.”


The committee’s chairman, John Cobb, R-Augusta, said the dire warning was a call to action.

“Where we are going now, there are going to be hundreds of homes burned up,” Cobb said. “What can we do differently?”

Mary Sexton, director of the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, said agencies such as hers are trying adapt their firefighting strategies. But so far, she said, they have not kept pace with the threat.

“Because of the drought and the buildup of fuels, we just are not able to be as effective as we have been in the past,” Sexton said.”

House burned in fires in 2003 and 2007

The Associated Press has a story about a couple at Cuyamaca, California, east of San Diego, who lost their house in forest fires in 2003 and 2007, in the same spot. They are going to rebuild again. The photo shows the house that burned last October. Here is a small excerpt.

“The Millers lost their house to a wildfire in 2003, then rebuilt it, only to watch the replacement house burn to the ground last October in another wildfire. They were the only family in San Diego to lose a house twice on the same spot. Now they plan to build there a third time — only the house will be mostly underground this time.”

Photo from Associated Press

Robot proposed to put out fires; no need to update your resume yet

robot firefighterA German industrial design studio, apparently with no expertise in wildland fire, has developed a concept for a robot that would be pre-positioned in the wildland. When it’s sensors detect a fire from up to 1/2 mile away, it would wake up, extend it’s 6 legs, walk to the fire, and put it out using tanks of water and powdered fire-extinguishing agents.

Unless a fire is very small, it can take shit-loads of water to put one out, so unless these robots are going to carry 500-1,000 gallons of water, or unless there are going to be shit-loads of robots, your job is pretty secure. Oh… and the cost of each one is estimated at $125,000-$200,000.

The article at Popsci.com says the weight of the robots will be 150-200 pounds, which means they could hold about 5-15 gallons of water, depending on how much other fire extinguishing agent they carry.

Photo from Popsci.com

BIA cuts hot shot crews

Due to budget reductions within the 2008 Interior Appropriations budget, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is reducing their hot shot crews from nine to seven. Effective immediately, according to a memo dated March 19, the Mescalero Hot Shots of their Southwest Region, and the Bear Paw Hot Shots of their Rocky Mountain Region, are disbanded. A Reduction-in-Force, which means employees may be fired, is to begin within 10 days.

European Union considers rapid reaction force

Athens wildfireThe European Union (EU), comprised of 27 member states, has been considering since April of 2007 the development of a rapid reaction force that could respond quickly to wildland fires, floods, and other emergencies. The parliament even passed a resolution to that effect, but little has taken place to make it happen.

I recently talked with someone in the UK who told me that in the last 2 weeks, due to last summer’s fires in Greece, the fire on the Greek island a couple of weeks ago, and the recent flooding in the UK, discussions along these lines have accelerated. In addition to other resources, they are considering a fleet of air tankers that could respond quickly to wildland fires in any of the 27 member states. The resources would be funded by the EU and is being advocated by the Directorate for Civil Protection.

Photo: Athens burning, July, 2007