Three firefighters suffer burns on Arizona fire

All three are expected to make full recoveries

Three firefighters are recovering from burn injuries they sustained while working on a wildfire in Southwest Arizona over the weekend.

On Friday, March 16 two State Forestry firefighters were burned after falling into an ash pit on the Laguna Fire, 14 miles northeast of Yuma.

One firefighter suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns and was flown to the Arizona Burn Center in Phoenix where he remains in the hospital. The other was treated at a Yuma-area hospital and released.

On Saturday, a third firefighter was injured on the same fire. He suffered minor burns and was also treated at the hospital and released.

Two of the firefighters are part of State Forestry’s Phoenix Crew. The third firefighter is a member of State Department of Corrections’ Yuma Crew.

“Firefighter safety is our number one priority at all times. The accidents are currently under review and being investigated by the department. We ask that you please keep all of our firefighters in your thoughts,” said State Forester Jeff Whitney.

All three are expected to make full recoveries.

The 15-acre Laguna Fire started Thursday, March 15th and the cause is under investigation.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jason and Tom.
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Record number of attendees at Arizona wildfire academy

Above: Students use sand tables to visualize initial attack scenarios and learn how to make sound decisions in this S200 Initial Attack Commander course during the 2018 Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in Prescott, Arizona. Courtesy photo. 

An annual wildfire training camp’s enrollment ballooned to record numbers this year on the heels of an especially active fire season — and the release of Only the Brave.  

At least 1,020 students are partaking in the 51 classes offered at this week’s Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in Prescott, said Tony Sciacca, Executive Director of the academy, as reported by The Daily Courier in Prescott. In its 16 years of operation, the academy’s previous highest enrollment  was 730.

The academy has a capacity of 1060.

“It’s a significant jump,” Sciacca told the newspaper.

During the training, which began March 10 and lasts through Friday at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, attendees can pick from more than 50 NWCG, FEMA and other skills classes. Class offerings range from the entry-level S-130/190 to more advanced leadership or communications roles.

The Goodwin Fire burned 28,500 acres just outside of Prescott last year.  That, along with high-profile wildfires in California, might have piqued some interested in the academy, which is largely attended by Arizonans.

Additionally, there stands to be more money to go around this year. Arizona’s governor last month called for the doubling of the state’s investment in fire prevention funding for the upcoming fiscal year, from $1 million to $2 million.

And while it’s impossible to say, interest in wildland firefighting has surely increased since October’s release of Only the Brave. That film, of course, is based on the Granite Mountain Hotshots that fought not only wildfires for several years, but also battled with the establishment to finally be certified as the first Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crew managed by a municipal fire department — the Prescott, Arizona Fire Department.

Field day for the 130/190 students

Posted by Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy on Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Drone catches fire, ignites wildfire north of Flagstaff

(UPDATED at 11:33 a.m. MST March 7, 2018)

The drone that landed, caught fire, and ignited what became a 335-acre fire in Northern Arizona was battery-powered and approximately 16″ x 16″, a spokesperson for the Coconino National Forest said. The operator reported the fire and was later cited for causing timber, trees, slash, brush, or grass to burn. The spokesperson did not know exactly how the drone caught fire.

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(Originally published at 4:42 p.m. MST March 6, 2018)

Kendrick Fire Arizona

This article first appeared on Fire Aviation.

There’s no doubt that Unmanned Aerial Systems can play an important part in improving situational awareness for wildland firefighters.

But today investigators have determined that the preliminary cause of a wildfire north of Flagstaff is a drone that landed and caught fire. At 3:25 p.m. MST Tuesday the Coconino National Forest said firefighters had stopped the spread of the resulting wildfire after it burned 335 acres near Kendrick Park by Forest Roads 514 and 524.

map kendrick fire

There is no information yet about the operator of the drone or if it was powered by a battery or gasoline.

All of these photos were provided by the Coconino National Forest.

Kendrick Fire Arizona

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

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Spring arrives early in the Southwest, late in some areas

In Western Arizona and Southern California plants are greening up weeks earlier than usual

Spring has started to arrive in the southwest and southeast states. In southern Florida, spring is right on time compared to a long-term average (1981-2010), but parts of Texas, Louisiana, and northern Florida are one week late. In southern California and southwestern Arizona, spring is arriving 1-2 weeks early.

The timing of leaf-out, migration, flowering and other seasonal phenomena in many species is closely tied to local weather conditions and broad climatic patterns.

An early greenup, depending on weather later in the season, could mean herbaceous plants will become dormant and cure out earlier, which may result in a wildfire season in the lower elevations that begins sooner than average.

Source: USA National Phenology Network, www.usanpn.org

Five lessons learned at Prescott fire managers meeting

State Foresters meeting prescottThis week in Prescott, Arizona the National Association of State Foresters held their annual “Chiefs, Managers and Supervisors Meeting”. The goal of the 120 attendees was to discuss the policies, technologies, and procedures that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of fighting wildfires.

One product from the event was a list of the top five lessons learned:

  1. Change starts with coordinated leadership. The work the nation’s state foresters are doing together to improve wildfire preparedness, detection, and suppression is critical to protecting communities small and large across the country. When state foresters lead the charge on these issues, and act as one, their voice is amplified in Congress – and more importantly – outside of Congress in the public domain where change-making starts.
  2. Speak the same language and use the same metrics whenever possible. When the states share similar language to characterize their wildfire fighting programs, national and regional wildfire fighting coordination is improved and lives are saved. Additionally, with a standardized method of measuring wildfire costs across the nation, we can track exactly where money for wildfire prevention and suppression goes and to what benefit, ultimately allowing for more efficient resource allocation.
  3. Stay the course on advocating for federal forest management and wildfire funding reform. A positive resolution is closer than ever. The USDA, Department of the Interior, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and other national partners are in agreement on the broad strokes of federal forest management reform and a wildfire funding fix, which means the state foresters are in a good position to propose and advocate for what specific changes need making.
  4. Words matter; and actions even more. It’s time to stop talking about how we can better support and protect wildland firefighters; how we can better contain costs, employ new technologies, and help prevent catastrophic post-fire damage. In many cases, we have the information we need to set smarter federal forest management and wildfire policies. It’s time to put that information to use – to change policies to save lives.
  5. Sharing processes that work, works. Better decisions and better outcomes come out of sharing experiences and expertise between state forestry and fire agencies. One of the best ways to contribute to cooperative networks is to get connected.

Arizona Forest Service officer involved in shooting

(UPDATED at 11:22 p.m. MST January 8, 2018)

The FBI released more information Monday about the January 5 shooting in Arizona that left one person deceased:

A Forest Service Officer stopped to render assistance to a vehicular traffic accident. An altercation occurred between the officer and the subject, Tyler Miller of Kansas. It was later determined the officer was injured and treated on the scene by EMS personnel.  Miller was shot and transferred to a medical center and later declared deceased.

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(UPDATED at 12:50 p.m. MST January 7, 2018)

According to KWCH, the person killed in the shooting that involved a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer January 5 has been identified as Tyler Miller. The uninjured USFS officer has not been named.

The FBI says 51-year-old Tyler Miller was injured and later died at a hospital. The officer’s name was not released, he suffered no injuries.

According to the office of the Kansas Secretary of State, Miller is the owner of TNT Bonding in Hutchinson [Kansas]. The family’s attorney, Matt Bretz, says Miller is a well-respected entrepreneur from Hutchinson.

The FBI says Miller was involved in a wreck earlier that evening.

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(Originally published at 8:14 a.m. MST January 6, 2018)

A U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer was involved in a shooting Friday January 5 north of Sedona, Arizona. According to local media the officer was not injured but one person was transported and pronounced dead at a hospital.

State Route 89A was closed for about five hours as the FBI investigated the incident.

On December 11 a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service was shot while driving a vehicle in Monterey County, California. The victim, Division Chief Peter Harris, was shot in the neck and ear. The suspect, Jacob Kirkendall, fled but was found and arrested.

In 2012 National Park Service Ranger, Margaret Anderson, was shot and killed in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.

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