New BLM hotshot crew in Arizona has a name

Aravaipa Hotshots logoThe new hotshot crew that the Bureau of Land Management is establishing in southern Arizona now has a name — Aravaipa. Last month the BLM announced that the crew will be stationed at Fort Huachuca thanks to a partnership between the BLM and U.S. Army.

“The name for a hotshot crew is about representing where you come from, so we selected something that people in southeast Arizona can connect to,” said Timothy Shannon, Gila District Manager.

The BLM has also selected the superintendent for the new Aravaipa crew. Greg Smith, a seasoned wildland fire manager with more than 22 years of experience, will come on board in December, and will assist in hiring, training and supervising the 20-person unit. Smith has extensive experience as a hotshot superintendent with the Ironwood Hotshots, Jackson Hotshots and the Globe Hotshots and is also a four-year military veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Recruitment for the crew will emphasize the selection of military veterans, consistent with BLM’s national emphasis on bringing veterans into the wildfire workforce. The BLM’s long-term goal is for a crew made up entirely of veterans.

The crew will be seeking official hotshot designation during an intensive two to three year certification process, and will be stationed Ft Huachuca thanks to a partnership between the BLM and the U.S. Army.

Two crew captain job openings will be posted Nov. 11 at In total, six year-round and 13 seasonal job positions will be posted in the coming months.

The Aravaipa crew will be the only hotshot crew (also known as a Type 1 crew) in Southern Arizona and one of only 12 BLM hotshot crews nationwide.

For more information about available crew positions, contact Lathe Evans at (928) 348-4514.

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

Wildfire briefing, November 2, 2015

Marijuana farms destroyed by California fires

According to reports, the crops from up to 100 marijuana farms were destroyed in wildfires in California this summer. Hardest hit were facilities in Calaveras and Lake counties — the Butte, Rocky, and Valley fires.

State of Arizona argues it can’t be sued over Yarnell Hill Fire

From the Arizona Capitol Times:

Yarnell residents burned out of their homes in 2013 have no right to sue Arizona for their losses, lawyers for the state are arguing.

In filings with the state Court of Appeals, Assistant Attorney General Brock Heathcotte acknowledged the state did attempt to fight the blaze that destroyed more than 120 homes and resulted in the deaths of 19 firefighters. But he said that was only done to protect the state’s own land, “not to provide fire-suppression services to the private-property owners to protect their property.”

“The Yarnell Hill Fire was a natural consequence of natural conditions,” he wrote. “It was naturally ignited (by a lightning strike) on wildland, was fueled by natural vegetation, and spread in response to hot, dry, and windy conditions.”

And what all that means, Heathcotte argued, is there is no right to sue the state even though the fire on state land spread to private property and was not contained there.

The filings come in response to a bid by homeowners to have their day in court. Attorney Craig Knapp, representing the plaintiffs, contends the state is liable because it undertook the chore of defending the community but was negligent in that performance…

Teen who started wildfire to meet with homeowners affected

From Corvallis Gazette-Times:

The Corvallis teen who admitted to starting the Chip Ross Park Fire in September 2014 is set to meet face-to-face with the homeowners and tenants affected by the fire.

Salem-based Neighbor to Neighbor Inc., a mediation company, has been contracted by the Benton County Juvenile Court to facilitate the process between Dawson DeWolfe and the victims of the September 2014 brush fire that destroyed 86 acres south of Chip Ross Park.

In January, Dawson DeWolfe, 16, admitted to misdemeanor charges of reckless burning, reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal mischief in a disposition — the juvenile equivalent of sentencing — in front of Benton County Judge Matthew Donohue. As part of the disposition, DeWolfe was required to attend restitution mediation.

Charlie Ikard, Neighbor to Neighbor executive director, said the mediation process could take several months. Neighbor to Neighbor representatives recently sent out letters to homeowners and tenants who experienced financial loss and direct damage to their properties as a result of the fire. Pre-mediation interviews with the homeowners are scheduled between Nov. 16 and Dec. 4…

Volunteers build sheds for wildfire victims

Building shed

Building a storage shed for a fire victim in Okanogan County, Washington. Screen shot from KXLY.

Some residents whose homes burned in the Tunk Block Fire in Washington are receiving recovery assistance from volunteers. A group from Veteran Community Response, working through Foursquare Church, so far have constructed eight storage sheds for fire victims that they can use while rebuilding their homes.

Wildfire briefing, October 26, 2015

Oregon declares wildfire season to be over

Bald Butte area fire

A fire in the Bald Butte area started near Springfield, Oregon October 10 when a burning car ignited vegetation above Forest Service Road 23. Dry fuels and gusty winds left 24 acres of burnt timber and brush on national forest lands. Oregon Department of Forestry photo by Greg Wagenblast.

The Oregon Department of Forestry has declared the 2015 wildfire season to be over. Rain and the arrival of cool, moist weather patterns prompted the declaration as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday. Oregon experienced a third consecutive difficult wildfire season this year. As of Sept. 11, total wildfire costs totaled more than $211 million in Oregon, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. (That figure may include costs incurred by all agencies in the state, including federal, not just the ODF.)

The Oregon state government has an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London which provides up to $25 million of state government fire suppression costs that exceed $50 million. The $3.5 million cost of the policy is split between the state and private timberland owners.

Board approves design for Yarnell Hill Fire memorial

The Yarnell Hill Memorial Site Board has approved a conceptual design for a memorial to commemorate the site where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were entrapped by fire and killed June 30, 2013. According to the Daily Courier, the design by architect Bill Gauslow “consists of 19 white marble crosses, each placed where a man fell, surrounded by 19 low walls, spaced a short distance apart, and built of rip-rap rock.” The memorial would be placed at the fatality site which will be purchased by the Arizona State Parks department. Interpretive signs, one for each of the 19 firefighters, would also be placed every 1/10 mile along the 1.9 mile trail from the parking lot to the memorial site.

Researchers think fires were more common 300 million years ago

Scientists from the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London together with colleagues from the USA, Russia and China, have discovered that forest fires across the globe were more common between 300 and 250 million years ago than they are today. This is thought to be due to a higher level of oxygen in the atmosphere at that time.

Full text of the research article.

Landfill near nuclear waste site has been burning for six years

From the Chicago Tribune:

Beneath the surface of a St. Louis-area landfill lurk two things that should never meet: a slow-burning fire and a cache of Cold War-era nuclear waste, separated by no more than 1,200 feet.

Government officials have quietly adopted an emergency plan in case the smoldering embers ever reach the waste, a potentially “catastrophic event” that could send up a plume of radioactive smoke over a densely populated area near the city’s main airport.

Although the fire at Bridgeton Landfill has been burning since at least 2010, the plan for a worst-case scenario was developed only a year ago and never publicized until this week, when St. Louis radio station KMOX first obtained a copy…

BLM creates new hotshot crew in Arizona

blm logoThe Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced today the creation of a new hotshot firefighting crew in southern Arizona. The establishment of the crew responds to a nationwide increase in wildfire activity and the need for additional skilled personnel. The crew will be stationed at Fort Huachuca thanks to a partnership between the BLM and U.S. Army.

Recruitment for the crew will emphasize the selection of military veterans, consistent with BLM’s national emphasis on bringing veterans into the wildfire workforce. The BLM’s long-term goal is for a crew made up entirely of veterans.

“Bringing a new elite firefighting unit into Southern Arizona will benefit the communities we serve and recognize the dual need for additional firefighting resources and quality employment for military veterans,” said BLM Arizona State Director Raymond Suazo.

The crew will be the only hotshot crew (also known as a Type 1 crew) in Southern Arizona and one of only 12 BLM hotshot crews nationwide. Hotshot crews are the most skilled and highly trained units among wildland fire personnel, meeting stringent requirements established by interagency fire managers and routinely engaged with the most complex wildfire incidents.

The crew will increase the availability of wildfire resources locally in Southern Arizona and at the national level. Proactive measures to prevent high severity fires, such as fuel treatments and prescribed burns, will occur when the crew is not engaged with an active wildfire.

The BLM partnered with the U.S. Army at Fort Huachuca (map) to provide barracks space to the crew through a lease.

“We are proud to provide a base for the new BLM hotshot crew. Our support is another way Fort Huachuca contributes to the safety and security of our community, Arizona and the nation,” said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Huachuca commander Col. Thomas A. Boone.

A nationwide evaluation of personnel needs completed by BLM Arizona and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho led to the creation of the crew. 2015 marks another record-breaking wildlife season for the western United States with over eight million acres burned to date throughout the country. BLM continually evaluates the preparedness of the fire program and the ability to respond to wildfires threatening public land resources and surrounding communities.

The crew will be managed by the BLM Gila District. “We are thrilled to bring these benefits to the region and provide career paths for our firefighting community,” said Timothy Shannon, BLM Gila District manager.


The BLM is advertising a job for the GS-9 Superintendent.

Thanks and a tip of the hat goes out to Chris, Tom, and Tom.

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.

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: