Federal wildland fire agencies revise and replace agreement with Australia

U.S. firefighters in Australia
U.S. firefighters in Victoria, Australia, February, 2009. Photo by Wol Worrell.

The United States Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture have renewed an international arrangement with Australia to continue a partnership that provides mutual assistance for wildland fire preparedness, suppression and post-fire recovery.

These agreements have existed for years but language was added during this revision to enhance prevention and presuppression activities. Here is how the National Wildfire Coordinating Group defines presuppression:

Activities in advance of fire occurrence to ensure effective suppression action. Includes planning the organization, recruiting and training, procuring equipment and supplies, maintaining fire equipment and fire control improvements, and negotiating cooperative and/or mutual aid agreements.

U.S. Embassy Canberra Chargé d’Affaires James Carouso and Emergency Management Australia Director-General Mark Crosweller signed the renewal of the Wildland Fire Management Arrangement January 23, 2017 in Australia. The arrangement builds on 15 years of close collaboration between firefighters, and allows for the sharing of personnel, research, and technology to boost the mutual wildland fire management capabilities.

Since the U.S. and Australia have opposite fire seasons, and because these countries use interchangeable methods and doctrine, a mutually beneficial mechanism was established in 2002 for quickly sharing trained personnel and critical resources.

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

Typos or errors, report them HERE.

The desert changes one year after the Powerline Fire in Big Bend NP

Above: Charred Pitaya cactus in Big Bend National Park during the Powerline Fire, February 2, 2017. NPS photo.

A year ago the Powerline Fire burned 1,792-acres near the headquarters of Big Bend National Park in south Texas. Since then a tireless camera has been taking photos of a particular area. When they are put together in a time-lapse fashion the resurgence of the vegetation is enough to convince anyone to stop using the word “destroyed” when describing the effects of a wildfire.

I almost decided not to post the video below because unfortunately the resolution of the photos is very, very poor, but check it out for yourself.

Aerial photos of wildfires in Chile

These photos were taken by the crew of the 747 Supertanker that is working out of Santiago, Chile. All of the pictures were shot at a fire south of Matanzas that burned about 19,000 hectares.

A Russian-made IL-76 air tanker takes off at Santiago, Chile. Photo by crew of the 747.
An IL-76 makes a drop on a wildfire south of Matanzas, Chile, February 1, 2017. Photo by the crew of Global Supertanker.
A Chilean military CASA lead plane flies ahead of the 747 Supertanker. Photo by crew of the 747.

The photo below is not exactly an aerial photo, except it was taken from the cockpit of the 747 Supertanker, which is pretty far above the ground even when parked on the ramp!

A Russian-made IL-76 air tanker on the Santiago ramp. Photo by crew of the 747.

Team to Begin Chimney Tops 2 Fire Review at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The report is expected to be completed in about 60 days, after which it will be submitted the the NPS national office for review before it is released.

A former Type 1 Incident Commander will lead a team that will conduct a review of the Chimney Tops 2 Fire that started in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on November 23, 2016. After growing to dozens of acres over five days the fire was pushed by very strong winds out of the park into Gatlinburg, Tennessee where it killed 14 people and destroyed 2,013 homes and 53 commercial structures. It eventually burned over 17,000 acres in and outside the park.

Chimney Tops 2 Fire August 27, 2016
Chimney Tops 2 Fire November 27, 2016. Photo by Brett Bevill.

The purpose of the review is to identify the facts leading up to and during the Chimney Tops 2 fire within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as make recommendations on any planning, operational, or managerial issues which can be addressed locally, regionally, and/or nationally to reduce the chances of a similar incident in the future.

Joe Stutler, a former Type 1 Incident Commander and now a senior advisor for Deschutes County, Oregon, will lead the interagency team.

Other members include:

  • Fire Behavior Specialist: William Grauel, Bureau of Indian Affairs – National Fire Ecologist, Boise, ID
  • Municipal Fire Department Representative: Jimmy Isaacs, Boone Fire Department – Chief, Boone, NC
  • Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist: Shane Greer, U.S. Forest Service – Assistant Fire Director-Risk Management, Region 2, Golden, CO
  • NPS Fire Management Officer: Mike Lewelling, Rocky Mountain National Park – Fire Management Officer, Estes Park, CO
  • Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist/Writer/Editor: Miranda Stuart, NPS Branch of Wildland Fire – Fire Management Specialist, Crawfordville, FL
  • NPS Management Liaison: Tim Reid, National Park Service – Superintendent, Devils Tower National Monument, WY

The work of the review team is expected to take up 59 days according to information released by the National Park Service. After that, the team will submit their report to Bill Kaage, Division Chief of Fire and Aviation for the NPS, for review prior to it being made public.

Photos of the wildfires in Chile

Above: This appears to be a fuel tender on the Matanzas Fire. Either that, or a fuel truck repurposed as a fire engine.

We took these photos on February 2, on a fire south of Matanzas, Chile that had burned about 19,000 hectares (46,950 acres).

Matanzas Fire Chile
A typical burned area on the Matanzas fire.
Matanzas Fire Chile Eucalyptus
Many eucalyptus plantations were severely damaged. Here is a link to WebMD about the uses of eucalyptus.
Matanzas Fire Chile
The military had a presence at the Incident Command Post for the Matanzas Fire.
Matanzas Fire Chile
Dr. Gabriel Iribarren (orange vest) and his medical crew on the Matanzas Fire.
Matanzas Fire Chile helicopter
A helicopter approaches the Base Heliport on the Matanzas Fire. More photos of aircraft on the fire are at FireAviation.com
Matanzas Fire Chile
A staging area on the Matanzas Fire.
Matanzas Fire Chile
A fire crew on the Matanzas Fire.

All photos are by Bill Gabbert.