Smoke map, September 19, 2014

wildfire Smoke map, 9-19-2014

The map shows the distribution of smoke from wildfires in the United States, current as of 9 p.m. PDT, September 19, courtesy of Weatherunderground.

wildfire Smoke pattern

The graphic from KTVU shows the current weather pattern that is setting up the smoke transport from the King Fire toward the Bay Area in California.

More information about the King Fire.


Man charged with arson for starting the King Fire

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s office has arrested a man for intentionally starting what has become the 73,184-acre King Fire west of Lake Tahoe, California. Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, of Pollock Pines was charged Thursday morning with a single count of arson of forest land. The charges include a special allegation — arson with aggravating factors. The complaint said those factors are:

A firefighter, peace officer, or other emergency personnel suffered great bodily injury as a result of the offense.

Wayne Allen Huntsman

Wayne Allen Huntsman

The criminal complaint, below, shows four past felonies, including three 1997 convictions in Santa Cruz County which include assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft and auto theft.

CAL FIRE and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers, in conjunction with the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office cooperated to bring the charges against Mr. Huntsman.

Several media outlets are reporting that he is being held in lieu of $10-million bail.

DA Announces Filing of Criminal Complaint Against Wayne Allen Huntsman


Fire retardant paint saved a structure? Nope.

I received an email that listed some fire-related news articles, and one of the headlines got my attention:

Fire Retardant Paint Saved Calif. Timber Mill Building

The link took me to an article at that the website lifted from the Associated Press, and sure enough, there was that headline. I had never heard of paint saving a building from a wildfire, so I was quite curious. I quickly scanned the article looking for how a building was saved by paint, and didn’t see it, so I read the whole thing more carefully.

It was referring to the Boles Fire that burned 150 structures in Weed, California. Much of the story covered the impacts to the damaged lumber mill and the 170 workers. Here is what the headline writer saw that resulted in the misleading headline:

With a maintenance shed reduced to twisted sheet-metal and the main manufacturing facility suffering structural damage, but still standing with a new coat of pink fire retardant, the Roseburg Forest Products veneer mill on the outskirts of Weed was out of commission Tuesday while workers began assessing the damage, said Kellye Wise, vice president for human resources of the company based in Dillard, Oregon.

There was no indication in the article of how much damage was done to the facility, including if it was “saved”, or not, by air tankers dropping retardant, or house paint. The mill has their own fire crew responsible for fighting fires within the facility, and air tankers were not mentioned in the article, except indirectly: “pink fire retardant”.

The same AP story published at the Daily Mail, a UK paper in a country having little experience with large wildfires, had a different headline:

Fire damage to mill another blow to timber town

Often the person that writes the headline is not the author of the story, and this is not the first time that a headline has been misleading.


Three accident reports: two heavy equipment rollovers and a bucking incident


The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has posted three Rapid Lesson Sharing reports. The photos above are from two rollovers of heavy equipment, a forwarder and a hydro ax. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The photo below is from a report on a serious bucking accident in which two people were injured. Both were transported to a hospital, one in an ambulance and the other in a helicopter.

Bucking accidentAs Sgt. Phil Esterhaus said, “Let’s be careful out there.”



Wildfire smoke map, September 18, 2014

Smoke map, 9-18-2014

Map showing the distribution of smoke from wildfires, September 18, 2014. The darkest plume is from the King Fire west of Lake Tahoe in California. Map courtesy of Weatherunderground. (click to enlarge)

When the King Fire in California ran 16 miles for an additional 52,400 acres on Wednesday, it put up a very large plume of smoke that is affecting air quality in Boise, Idaho this morning.