Moderate weather and air tankers slow the Indian Canyon Fire near Edgemont, South Dakota

Above: The north side of the Indian Canyon Fire along the Cheyenne River late in the evening of July 17.

(UPDATED at 7 p.m. MDT July 18, 2016)

Around noon on Monday we visited the west side of the Indian Canyon Fire south of Edgemont, South Dakota. It was very quiet. Not much was going on at the airport, the incident command post, or along Highway 471. We only saw one location that was putting up much smoke and it was on the north side in some cottonwood trees near the Cheyenne River. That area probably has logs and dead trees that could smoulder for days.

Art Prints

The order for the Type 1 Incident Management Team was cancelled. The latest size estimate for the fire is 13,500 acres. At 9 a.m. today the incident management team reported there was zero containment on the fire. Then at 4:06 p.m. that increased to 60 percent. This just illustrates that containment numbers are meaningless most of the time and is the reason why we rarely regurgitate that statistic.

The six photos in the next gallery were taken around noon on Monday. Scroll down to see two other galleries. Click on a photo to see a larger version, then click on the arrows to view more.

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(UPDATED at 10:28 a.m. MDT July 18, 2016)

Monday morning the Great Plains Fire Information office reported there had been “heavy rain” on the Indian Canyon Fire in South Dakota. When I left the Edgemont area at 7:30 Sunday night a thunderstorm was moving in and light rain was falling. Two rain gauges that are near the fire but not within the perimeter recorded 0.03″ and 0.07″ overnight.

The heat-sensing satellite did not detect any large heat sources Sunday night on the fire. That does not mean it is out. The sensors, about 200 miles overhead, can only “see” large concentrations of heat. And the grass, which comprises most of the vegetation in the fire area, can burn and then cool before the next satellite overpass.

The behavior of the fire on Sunday was affected by the moderate weather conditions — temperature around 80, relative humidity in the 30’s, and an 8 mph east wind. The forecast for the fire area on Monday predicts 96 degrees, southwest winds of 14 to 18 gusting in the mid-20’s, and 30 percent relative humidity. These conditions could dry much of the Sunday night rainfall.

Another factor slowing the fire was the use of air tankers, helping to keep the fire out of Edgemont. In addition to a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker, seven other air tankers were used on the fire Sunday — four Single Engine Air Tankers and three large air tankers, T-02 and T41 (both BAe-146’s), and T-45 (a P2V). In addition, two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters worked on the fire Sunday.

The photos in the gallery below were shot around 7 p.m. MDT Sunday night. To see larger versions, click on one, then click the arrows to see more.

This was the first time that a Very Large Air Tanker has dropped retardant in the state of South Dakota. It carries 11,600 gallons, far more than any other air tanker currently certified in North America. The other Large Air Tankers hold between 2,000 and 4,500 gallons. Global Supertanker has a 747 Very Large Air Tanker with a 19,600-gallon capacity working its way through the FAA and Interagency AirTanker Board approval process.

Continue reading “Moderate weather and air tankers slow the Indian Canyon Fire near Edgemont, South Dakota”

Red Flag Warnings, July 16, 2016

Red Flag Warning, July 16, 2016 wildfire

The National Weather service has posted Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches for areas in California, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado.

The maps were current as of 10:15 a.m. MDT on Saturday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts and maps. For the most current data visit this NWS site.

wildfire Red Flag Warning, July 16, 2016

Wildfire burns approximately 30 homes in Timberon, New Mexico

About 67 structures have burned, including about 30 homes and numerous vehicles.

Above: The yellow dots represent heat detected by a satellite over the Timberon Fire at 2:10 a.m. MDT July 14, 2016. Click to enlarge.

A wildfire has burned through a portion of the town of Timberon in south-central New Mexico destroying approximately 30 homes 22 air miles southeast of Alamogordo. The fire started July 13 and burned 290 acres before firefighters completed a fireline around the perimeter. 

One engine from the Timberon Volunteer Fire Department burned after a mechanical failure. An update provided Friday by incident management team said approximately 30 vehicles were destroyed or damaged, including 14 recreational vehicles.

The Type 4 incident management team headed by Caleb Finch transitioned to the Type 3 Pecos team led by Tom Barta Friday morning. 

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Allen.

Two fire crew vehicles hit by truck, 5 firefighters injured

Five members of the Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew received minor injuries.

Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew
File photo of the Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew at the Beaver Creek Fire in Colorado. It was posted July 4, 2016 on the Mid-Plains Crew’s Facebook Page. The composition of the crew on July 15, the day of the vehicle accident, may have been different.

Two vehicles transporting members of the Mid-Plains Interagency Hand Crew were involved in a serious vehicle accident Thursday afternoon.

Five of the firefighters were transported to the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado where they were treated and released with minor injuries.

At the time of the accident they were on Interstate 25 near Fort Collins en route to the Hayden Pass Fire south of Salida, Colorado. Traffic ahead of them came to an abrupt halt and the two vehicles were able to stop but the one in the rear had to swerve to the left to avoid the first crew vehicle.

A semi truck behind them tried to stop but careened into both firefighter vehicles, pushing the second truck into a cable median. A fuel tank on the semi truck ruptured, spilling about 50 gallons of fuel on the highway.

One of the crewmembers is a paramedic who was carrying Advanced Life Support equipment. That individual took charge of the medical response immediately at the accident scene.

The word we received is that both firefighter vehicles were totaled.

The Mid-Plains Interagency Type 2 Initial Attack Hand Crew can be assembled from a roster of fire-qualified personnel from Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota. They can be from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local fire departments, state agencies, or other organizations.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mike.

Red Flag Warnings July 15, 2016

Red Flag WarningsThe National Weather service has posted Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches for areas in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. Most, but not all, of the yellow Fire Weather Watch areas in Colorado will be under a Red Flag Warning from noon today until 8 p.m. MDT this evening for gusty winds, low humidities, and dry fuels. Similar conditions will exist Saturday afternoon as well.

The maps were current as of 7:40 a.m. MDT on Friday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts and maps. For the most current data visit this NWS site.

Red Flag Warnings