Lightning and high temperatures produce Red Flag Warnings

WildfireRed Flag Warnings, June 27, 2015

Forecasts for high temperatures and lightning with little or no rain on Saturday have resulted in Red Flag Warnings for areas in Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada.

As shown in the map below, central Oregon received numerous lightning strikes during the 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. MT, today June 27, 2015.

lightning map

Lightning, 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. June 27, 2015. NIFC.

As of about 9 a.m. on Saturday, Central Oregon Fire reported 17 lightning fires had been discovered. The largest two were near Brothers, OR in grass or shrub; one was 200 acres and the other was 50 acres. The rest are small.

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California firefighter sentenced for arson

A reserve firefighter on the Tule River Indian Reservation in central California has been sentenced to two years in state prison for setting wildland fires. In a Visalia courtroom on Wednesday Zachary Janoko pleaded guilty to felony arson.

Below is an excerpt from the Porterville [California] Recorder.

…In July 2014, Janoko was arrested for suspicion of arson for starting fires on the Reservation and along the Tule riverbed. During the investigation, Janoko, who was then assigned to the Natural Resource Department at the Reservation, and who at times had assisted the Tule River Fire Department battling fires, was accused of causing the fires for financial gain.

“It was hard on people here. Zack had been assisting here,” said Jay Henshaw, wildland fire investigator with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He said Janoko had been a reserve firefighter that provided backup and support.

“We worked with the county, tribal police and Bureau of Indian Affairs on the investigation and were successful,” Henshaw said.

Henshaw attended Janoko’s sentencing in Visalia and said he was glad that Janoko had been caught and found guilty because it isn’t very often that arsonists are actually caught.

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Mount Emma Fire burns into Grand Canyon NP

(UPDATED at 7:07 p.m. MT, June 26, 2015)

Mount Emma Fire

Mount Emma Fire. Undated photo on InciWeb.

The lightning-caused Mount Emma Fire started June 24 in the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in northwest Arizona and has burned into Grand Canyon National Park. The 2,043-acre fire is in a very remote area 60 miles west of the facilities at the North Rim which are at the south end of Highway 67.

Resources on the fire include one load of smoke jumpers, one hot shot crew, one Type 2 initial attack crew, and one Type 3 helicopter. The fire is burning in open Ponderosa pine and pinyon-juniper.

Fire managers are using both direct and indirect approaches for fire suppression on the Mt. Emma fire.

“This is a suppression fire that we are taking action on with resources on the ground,” said BLM Public Affairs Officer Rachel Carnahan. “We’re using both indirect and direct suppression tactics on this fire which is necessary in this kind of remote, rugged terrain. Access to the fire is difficult so we’re working to balance fire fighter safety—which is paramount—with feasible suppression tactics.”

3D view Mount Emma Fire

A 3-D map of heat detected by a satellite on the Mount Emma Fire at 1:55 p.m. June 26, 2015. The Grand Canyon can be seen in the foreground. (click to enlarge)

Mount Emma Fire Grand Canyon

A map view of the Mount Emma Fire from directly overhead. The green line is the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park, with the park being on the right, or east side, of the line. At the time of this imagery most of the fire was inside the park.

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Dude Fire — 25 years ago today

Dude fire, Arizona Republic newspaperThe June 27, 1990 Arizona Republic, from Michael Johns’ paper, “The Dude Fire” (click for a slightly larger version)

Twenty-five years ago today, six firefighters perished on the Dude fire in Walk Moore Canyon north of Payson, Arizona on a day when the temperature in Phoenix reached 122 degrees, grounding jetliners because there was no reliable data confirming that fully loaded commercial aircraft could operate in that kind of heat.

Tom Story, 25 years ago, was a photographer for the Arizona Republic and was on the Dude Fire taking pictures. Some of them have been recently posted on their website. One of them shows Superintendent Paul Gleason and some of his Zig Zag hotshots during the
burnout operation in Bonita Creek Estates, prior to the blow up. Mr. Story is still active in the fire world.

More information:

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Unusual weather allows broader range of fire management options in Arizona

Camillo Fire

A “Managed Fire” sign was in place to inform the public about the Camillo Fire on the Coconino National Forest.

This has not been a typical fire season in the southwest United States. A series of spring storms kept the high country wet and cool, even bringing snow to the upper elevations in late May. The remnants of two hurricanes off the west coast of Mexico imported moisture and moderated temperatures on the deserts until recently.

Many of the forests in both Arizona and New Mexico have been using the few lightning starts to date as a chance to use naturally occurring low intensity fire to play a crucial role in restoring forest health and fuels reduction.

Camillo Fire

Ed Olague, with Coconino National Forest Engine 483, finishes a firing operation on the Camillo Fire. This burnout had 27 people firing; each one chain (66 feet) apart, putting a dot of fire every half chain. The 1000 acre block was burned in four and half hours.

The Camillo Fire southeast of Flagstaff, Arizona is one of the largest of these fires.  Starting with a lightning strike near Mormon Lake on June 14, officials on the Coconino National Forest began to manage the fire rather than suppress it. Brady Smith, the forest’s Public Affairs Officer explains their objectives: “Overall, we seek to maintain a healthy ecosystem by reintroducing natural fire back into the forest that will burn at a lower intensity and ‘creep’ across the forest floor, acting as a natural janitor cleaning and restoring the forest to a healthier condition. Ultimately, this type of fire helps reduce buildup of down and dead wood and forest fuels, making it safer for communities and lessening the chances of a large severe wildfire in that area.”

At the time of this writing, the fire was 17,596 acres and while the Maximum Management Area (MMA) is nearly 46,000 acres, Don Muise, Fire Staff Officer on the Coconino National Forest explains that: “Not all 46,000 acres will see fire. We have excluded acres from the MMA due to a variety of reasons including protection of critical wildlife habitat (particularly Mexican spotted owl habitat), protection of archeological and cultural resource sites, exclusion of private inholdings, protection of critical range pastures and range improvements, etc.  Additionally, along the eastern edge of the MMA, the continuous ponderosa pine ecosystem transitions to a pinyon/juniper grassland that may not burn given the current and predicted conditions.  Right now our best guess for total acres burned is from 25,000 to 30,000 acres.”

The monsoon season brings frequent thunderstorms into Arizona and New Mexico, usually beginning in late June and lasting into September.  Asked about the monsoons, Mr. Muise continued: “We will continue to manage fire within the MMA as conditions allow. If the monsoon sets up in earnest and we get significant moisture, we will reduce our committed resources to an appropriate level and monitor the area until the fire is out.   If drying conditions follow the moisture, and, if there is still the potential for the fire to grow (if the fire survives the moisture), we will ramp up our operations to an appropriate level and continue our restoration efforts until all the available operational blocks within the MMA are completed.”

Camillo Fire

The Camillo Fire backs through piles of masticated material under a 345 Kv power line which brings electricity from Glenn Canyon Dam to the Phoenix Metro area. The power company, Arizona Public Service, maintains the right of way.

(More photos are below)  Continue reading

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Red Flag Warnings, June 26, 2015

wildfire Red Flag Warning, June 26, 2015

Areas of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Alaska are under Red Flag Warnings or Watches today. Warmer than normal temperatures are predicted through the weekend on the west coast.

In northeast California isolated dry thunderstorms will begin Friday afternoon and will become scattered Saturday afternoon, possibly continuing into Sunday morning. A transition to a mix of wet and dry storms is likely Sunday, however rapidly moving thunderstorms may still result in new fire ignitions.

The map was current as of 9:11 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 or this NWS site.

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