Red Flag Warnings in 10 states, April 11, 2018

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for areas in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Missouri. Fire Weather Watches are in effect for Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland.

The Red Flag Warning map was current at 1 p.m. MDT on Wednesday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts.

Fort Carson reports 20 training related vegetation fires in last 12 months

Two recent fires started on the base burned a total of 5,000 acres, two homes, numerous outbuildings, and dozens of vehicles.

A spokesperson for Fort Carson, a U.S. Army base south of Colorado Springs, admits that 20 fires in the last 12 months have been a result of training activities on the base, according to KOAA. Below is an excerpt from their report:

On March 16, a fire caused by live ammunition training on a Fort Carson artillery range burned nearly 3,000 acres off Mountain Post property, destroying two homes, numerous outbuildings, and dozens of vehicles.  Sunday, a wildfire caused by shooting on the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex public shooting range burned more than 2,000 acres and forced the total closure of a roughly 10-mile stretch of I-25 for more than an hour.

Gert MaraisLocal residents and elected officials are wondering if there is anything the base can do to reduce the number of fires started by training, such as eliminating dangerous activities during periods of elevated fire danger.

Ten years ago this month the pilot of a single engine air tanker was killed while helping firefighters on the ground contain a fire that started on Training Area 25 at Fort Carson. Wildfire Today wrote about the report released by the National Transportation Safety Board, which indicates there were very strong winds that day when Gert Marais died:

At the time of the crash, a U.S. Forest Service person on the ground who was directing the SEAT estimated that at the time of the crash the wind was out of the southwest at 30-40 knots. Winds at the Fort Carson airfield, 5 miles from the crash site, were between 20 and 40 knots from 1300 to the time of the accident at 1815.

Strong winds like occured on April 15, 2008 often indicate high wildfire danger if the relative humidity is low and the vegetation is dry.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean.
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Prescribed fire near D.C.

Above: NPS photo by Nathan King

On April 6 firefighters conducted the first prescribed fire in Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts west of the District of Columbia. According to the National Park Service it was also the first prescribed fire in Fairfax County, Virginia. (UPDATE April 11, 2018: Katie said in a comment that Fairfax County Park Authority has  been conducting prescribed burns in Fairfax County for many years.)

Fire was introduced to the native meadow in order to help the indigenous vegetation flourish while helping to control non-native plants.

Wolf Trap National prescribed fire
NPS photo by Nathan King

The agencies assisting included Prince William Forest Park, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields National Military Park, and Fairfax County.

Wolf Trap National prescribed fire
NPS photo by Nathan King

The park is about 8 air miles west of the District of Columbia. It was created by legislation passed in 1966 “… for the performing arts and related educational programs, and for recreation use in connection therewith…”

Numerous wildfires burning in Russia’s Amur province

Above:  NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite captured this natural-color image of smoke streaming from wildfires on April 4, 2018. Recently charred areas appear black. Rivers, still ice-covered, are white. Heat at the fires is represented by red dots.

NASA reports on wildfires in Russia seen from space:


As is often the case in the spring, satellites detected dozens of fires burning in Russia’s far eastern Amur province in late-March 2018. Fires usually flare up around the time that the winter snow cover melts.

The fires were initially quite small. Most of them were probably lit by people, mainly to burn dried grasses and old crop debris from fields. People in the area routinely light fires in the spring to fertilize the soil, maintain pasturelands, and prevent forest encroachment.

Many of the fires near the Amur and Zeya rivers spread rapidly over the following week. By April, several were raging out of control—in some cases burning through forests. Dahurian larch dominates forests in Amur, though deciduous trees such as birch and aspen are also common.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this natural-color image of smoke streaming from several fires on April 4, 2018. Recently charred areas appear black. Rivers, still ice-covered, are white.

Hundreds of firefighters are working in the region, according to news reports. However, the fires are proving difficult to control and have spread about 20,000 hectares (80 square miles) per day. On April 5, authorities reported extinguishing 15 fires, but 23 new fires emerged on the same day.

Diversity of structure in a forest can make it more resilient to fire

Above: A slab of wood from the Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest showing a history of very frequent fires, some of them as little as four years apart. Screen grab from the USFS video.

The U.S. Forest Service found some old research plots in the Sierras that have been measured over time dating back to the days of old growth. The evidence suggests that a diversity of species, density, and structure can make a forest more resilient to fire and attacks by insects.

Red Flag Warnings in four states, April 8, 2018

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for areas in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.

The Red Flag Warning map was current at 10:35 a.m. MDT on Sunday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts.