Five homes burn and one firefighter injured in South Africa fire

wildfire Cape Town

Fire near Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Clint Sutton.

Firefighters in South Africa are battling 14 wildfires. The most troublesome is on Table Mountain near Cape Town where one firefighter was injured when there was an explosion at a structure. “He is stable and will be released probably by Friday,” spokeswoman Liezl Moodie said of the firefighter injured at the beach lodge.

About 150 firefighters are working to bring the fire under control, made worse by sweltering summer temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The provincial government is planning to bring in 250 additional firefighters from other parts of the country, the South African Press Association reported.

wildfire Cape Town

Fire near Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Clint Sutton.

wildfire Cape Town

Fire near Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Clint Sutton.

Clint Sutton, a South African resident who took the three photos above, described the current situation:

We are having some extreme fires on the mountains around here! Started yesterday morning, and now has spread over miles. Over 300 firefighters trying to control them, unfortunately they are spread out in too many areas. Looked like they got it under control, but now some have jumped fire breaks and roads. Houses are too close to survive this. People being evacuated from old age home on the mountain, some of it already burnt down. I used to ride in this forest in the pic. It has huge pine trees, and now the fire has jumped to it! Don’ t know how they’re going to stop it now. Roads are closed everywhere! This is very serious!

Very strong winds last night have made it worse. Wind dropped today, thank goodness!

map Cape Town wildfires

Map, with red dots representing heat detected by a satellite, indicating the location of wildfires south of Cape Town, South Africa.

More photos of the fires.

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Paul Cerda receives Lead by Example Award

Paul Cerda Lead by Example award

Paul Cerda, center, receives the Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award. On the left is Mike Lewelling. Jim McMahill is on the right.

Congratulations to Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew Superintendent Paul Cerda, one of the recipients of the 2014 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for motivation and vision.


Paul was recognized for boldly leading with inspired vision and clear intent. His efforts to lead the Alpine Interagency Hotshot Crew to Type 1 Wildland Fire Module status shows his ability to innovate, communicate, and influence change. This bold effort to diversify for the betterment of the wildland fire service took insight and courage.

As an advocate for leadership development, Paul embodies the values of duty, respect and integrity. His vision, motivational ability, and innovative methods to “build the team” demonstrates true passion for his people and those he serves. Paul has not only created depth within his own organization but also strengthened the entire service through your positive influence.


Colorado National Guard being sued for starting fire in Wyoming

Sawmill Canyon Fire

Firefighters conduct a burnout on the Sawmill Canyon Fire in 2012. USFS photo.

A private landowner is suing the Colorado National Guard for starting a fire at a training site in Wyoming that burned more than 2,000 acres of their Bulls Bend Ranch near the town of Glendo. The $6.8 million suit claims the use of ammunition and explosives while training during dry conditions started the fire at the Wyoming National Guard’s Camp Guernsey.

The Sawmill Canyon Fire began July 14, 2012 seven miles southeast of Glendo, Wyoming and burned 14,185 acres before it was contained. About 1,000 acres of grazing land and another 1,000 acres of timberland that burned was on the ranch owned by Kevin and Susan Rothschild.

“The defendants collectively knew of the risk and danger in using live ammunition and explosives in an area that was prone to be dry, yet they proceeded to use explosives and other fire-causing materials that ignited a substantial fire, which caused damage to the property,” the complaint states. “The defendants were further negligent, irresponsible, reckless and acted without regard for plaintiff’s property by not having any fire extinguishing equipment or other controls in place to control and minimize the risk of fire from their activities.”

The Rothschilds say the fires resulted in dead cattle carcasses rotting on their property, dead fish in streams and rivers, destruction of wildlife habitat, burned standing timber and erosion, with silt and ash flowing into streams.

It wasn’t the first time. In 2006, the Tracer Fire, caused by the Army’s firing live rounds into dry grass, burned more than 13,000 acres of grazing land and timber, killing thousands of healthy trees, according to the complaint.

“The only conclusion that can be reached is that the training procedures with the National Guard and the Department of the Army have been shoddy, neglectful and poorly supervised,” the ranchers say.

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


Prescribed fire near Caroline Dormon School

prescribed fire Louisiana

Prescribed fire near Caroline Dormon Junior High School in Louisiana. Photo by Julia Denning.

Julia Denning sent us this interesting photo of a February 28 prescribed fire on the Kisatchie National Forest near the Caroline Dormon Junior High School in Woodworth, Louisiana. I asked about the two signs in front of the school, wondering if there was also a U.S. Forest Service facility at that location. Ms. Denning explained:

There is no USFS facility at the school, but the land on which the school is built was donated by the Forest Service, hence the Smokey-style signs. The school itself was named in tribute to conservationist Caroline Dormon, who was instrumental in the designation of the Kisatchie National Forest in 1930.

In October she also sent us some excellent photos of a prescribed fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon. Thanks again, Julia.


Head of Argentina’s National Fire Management dismissed after Chubut fire

Fires Chubut province Argentina

The largest concentration of red dots just to the right of the center of the image shows the location of wildfires in the western area of Chubut province near Cholila city in Argentina, February 26, 2015. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite. Smoke can also be seen in the NASA image.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Buenos Aires Herald:

Argentina’s National Fire Management Service (SNMF) of the Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry director Jorge Barrionuevo has been fired by newly appointed Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández.

Fernández fired Barrionuevo and called him “useless”, arguing he did not handle properly the fire that spread among the native forests of Chubut province, the worst in the country’s recorded history as 20,000 hectares — about the size of Buenos Aires City — were reported to have succumbed to the flames.

“We are making some changes because things are getting over his head. This government does not deserve that. We can no longer bear with useless people that think this is a joke. This is a very serious matter. A province is suffering and a country is suffering,” Fernández, who met with Chubut governor Martín Buzzi, said.


Wildfire potential, March through June, 2015

The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center has issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for March through June. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the eleven Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their predictions are accurate, fire potential should be increasing in the upper midwest and mid-south, it is expected to be normal in the west, and higher than normal in Alaska and Hawaii.

Here are the highlights from their outlook.


March  wildfire potential

  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential exists across much of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for the Southeast from Texas to the mid-Atlantic as well as Puerto Rico.
  • Normal significant wildland fire potential elsewhere.


April wildfire potential

  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will develop throughout the Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes.
  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will continue across much of Hawaii.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential will continue along the coastal plain of the Southeast and through central Texas as well as Puerto Rico.

May through June

May June  wildfire potential

  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will develop across portions of Southern California. Above normal significant wildland fire potential will continue across much of Hawaii.
  • Above normal significant wildland fire potential will reduce to normal across the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential will develop across the Southwest and continue on the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast coasts.