Wildfire in Italy causes major problems at airport

Below is an excerpt from a Reuters article about how smoke from a wildfire partially shut down the runways at an airport near Rome (map) on Wednesday.


“Rome’s Fiumicino airport resumed full operations after smoke from a forest fire on Wednesday forced Italy’s busiest hub to suspend takeoffs and restrict landings.

Airline Alitalia announced the resumption of services in a Tweet several hours after the blaze broke out in one of several forests of pine trees near the airport.

Forest rangers said in a statement that the blaze had affected about 40 hectares (100 acres) of a nature reserve that totals some 16,000 acres. Whipped by high winds, the fire was brought under control by fire-fighting planes that dropped water on the area.

The blaze “appears” to have been set intentionally and is under investigation, an Interior Ministry official said. It is the second fire to have hindered airport operations since May.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi commented that if the fire was set intentionally, it would be a “very grave” attack on the country’s “tourism and economy”, according to sources in his office.”


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


Rocky Fire near Clearlake, CA burns thousands of acres in first 5 hours

(UPDATED at 8:55 p.m. PT, July 31, 2015)

The wind controlling the direction of spread of the Rocky Fire east of Clearlake, CA changed to coming out of the northeast on Friday between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. This has pushed the smoke and some of the hottest portions of the fire to the west in the direction of the communities of Clearlake, Lower Lake, and Twin Lake. Below is an update from CAL FIRE at 5:45 p.m. on Friday:

New – The Rocky Fire has progressed and is currently moving southwest towards Lower Lake and the eastside of Clearlake. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office along with the Clearlake Police Department have issued an advisory evacuation of all areas east of Highway 29 starting at Riata Road to the Highway 53 junction. As well as all areas east of Highway 53 north to Highway 20 and Ogulin Canyon Road. An evacuation advisory is not a mandatory evacuation but it is strongly recommended. Residents are advised to gather their medications, pets and important papers. Residents should be prepared to leave the area with little notice. If residents are evacuated they may seek shelter at the Middletown High School or the Kelseyville High School.

Mandatory Evacuations:

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Jerusalem Valley area east of Soda Creek, west of Soda Creek, Bonham Road, Quarter Horse Lane, Mustang Court, Bronco Court, Sunset Court and Morgan Valley Road east of Bonham Road.

The forecast calls for the east component wind to continue until noon on Saturday, after which it will change to come out of the south and then the southwest, reducing the threat for a while to the communities on Highways 29 and 53. The humidity Friday night will increase to 69 percent which should slow the fire somewhat.

Rocky fire wildfire

A satellite image showing heat detected on the Rocky Fire and the multiple new lightning-caused fires on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The wind is blowing the smoke toward the west.


(UPDATED at 2:16 p.m. PT, July 31, 2015)

The Rocky Fire 3 miles east of Clearlake, California continued its march through vegetation northwest of Sacramento, doubling in size while chewing up an additional 8,000 acres in the 25 hours after it was previously mapped. An 11 p.m. aerial mapping flight last night found that it has blackened over 16,000 acres since it started at 4:10 p.m. PT on July 29.

Map of Rocky Fire

Map of the perimeter of the Rocky Fire (in red) at 11 p.m. PT, 7-30-15. The pink line was the perimeter 25 hours before.

On Thursday the fire spread primarily to the east, sending out two large fingers of flames that were three and four miles long. An evacuation advisory has been issued for the Double Eagle Ranch and homes along the Highway 20 corridor between New Long Valley Rd. and east to the county line. Evacuations are still in effect for the area north of Morgan Valley and east of Bonham Rd, Jerusalem Grade Rd, Spruce Grove Rd (north end), Noble Ranch Rd and Cantwell Ranch Rd. The fire is being battled by 988 personnel, 151 engines, 32 hand crews, 8 air tankers, 8 helicopters, and 30 dozers.

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Time-lapse of monitors setting up a fire effects plot

The Fire Effects crew from North Cascades National Park is seen in this time-lapse video filmed over a two-hour period placing fire monitoring plots just outside fire perimeter of the Paradise Fire in Olympic National Park.

The fire that started May 15 in the Olympic peninsula rain forest has burned 1,781 acres.

I wonder to what degree the intensive human activity in the plot while establishing it affects the results.


NASA helping to develop better fire shelters

(Video: fire shelter testing in June, 2015.)

After 19 firefighters were killed while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona in 2013, many people called for better fire shelters, since the shelters used then were not effective in preventing the 19 fatalities.

This January, NASA reached an agreement with the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service to test prototype fire shelters made from the space agency’s next-generation thermal protection systems (TPM) materials.

The team of engineers from NASA is developing flexible heat shields that will protect spacecraft from the high temperatures of atmospheric entry under NASA’s Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) project. NASA and the Forest Service have found that there are common performance requirements between fire shelters and flexible heat shields that can be used to benefit both organizations.

In September, 2014 small scale testing on 39 material samples began at Missoula Technology Development Center (MTDC). Thirteen materials that showed no obvious shortcomings were sent to Mark Y. Ackerman Consulting in association with the University of Alberta for the first round of third party lab testing. The only materials that had an improvement in the thermal protective performance tests were those that were bulkier and heavier than the current shelter material. Third party test results are being shared with those who have submitted materials for possible improvements.

Prototype shelters were tested for the first time in a forest fire setting in late June, 2015 when NASA’s Langley Research Centre, University of Alberta adjunct professor Mark Ackerman, and the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service travelled to Fort Providence in Canada’s Northwest Territories to conduct a series of controlled outdoor burns.


Wildland firefighters in Spain strike as fires burn

It was only a few days ago that we told you about some wildland firefighters in Spain, the BRIF (reinforcement brigade forest fire). Now they are on strike.

Below is an excerpt from an article at The Local:


“Over 800 people were evacuated from the villages of Ca l’Esteve, El Bosc Gran and Monserrat Parc in Ódena near Barcelona, after wildfires broke out over the weekend.

At least 1,000 hectares of vegetation have been destroyed by the fire, which broke out on Sunday afternoon. While the fire continues to rage, firefighters have stabilized the perimeter ensuring the flames did not expand further overnight, according to the Spanish Huffington Post.

The evacuated residents were spread out over neighbouring villages, where they souht refuge overnight in a basketball arena and a library, quickly set up to accommodate them.

To make matters worse, firefighters from Spain’s forest firefightingservice (BRIF) began an indefinite strike on Monday in protest against working conditions and low pay. It is the first time such a strike has taken place while wildfires sweep vast areas of Spain, the association of forest firefighters, Atbrif, said in a statement on its website.

“Is it fair that we make such a ridiculously paltry amount while we put our lives at risk?” the firefighters’ association said.

The association is meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Madrid on Monday.”


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