Rough Fire transitions to a NIMO organization

Rough Fire

Rough Fire. Undated, uncredited photo from InciWeb.

The Rough Fire east of Fresno, after burning for more than a month, will be transitioning from a Type 1 incident management team to a National Incident Management Team (NIMO) from Boise (Reinarz) and a Type 3 team. This new organization “will manage the entire incident”, according to South Zone News and Notes. Pechota’s Type 1 IMT “will be transitioning into command [Friday]” on the south part of the fire, South Zone News and Notes reported on Thursday.

The fire is being staffed by 1,901 personnel and has grown to 81,549 acres. The Team is calling it 25 percent contained.

Map Rough Fire

Map of the Rough Fire. The red line was the perimeter on September 2, 2015 and was provided by the incident management team. The yellow line is the perimeter from August 31. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite Wendesday night. The location of the heat could indicate strategic burning out ahead of the fire to stop the forward progress. (click to enlarge)

Below is an excerpt from an update on the fire, provided by the incident management team the evening of September 2, 2015:


“The SCSIIMT (Cooper) will be transitioning to a Sierra National Forest Type Three Organization who will be assuming responsibility for the continuing fire suppression and support activities. In addition, a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) will arrive during this transition.

Fire crews continue to gain ground on the fire in the Crown Valley trailhead area. Containment lines are being established in conjunction with mop up operations along the fire line. Fire suppression repair work is underway on some of the fire affected areas. This work will help with possible soil erosion in case of a water event.

The Wildland Fire Modules are finishing their backfiring operations in the John Muir Wilderness supported by a pack string of mules to limit helicopter flights in the wilderness. In addition, the High Sierra OHV crew continues to support fire personnel with deliveries and removal of hose and tools in difficult terrain.

Weather during the morning and early afternoon prevented firing operations from taking place in the south zone. Crews continued to reinforce lines in the Hoist Ridge and Buck Rock areas in preparation for burn operations tonight, weather permitting.

The fire has continued to push east along the north side of Highway 180. It is currently about two miles from Cedar Grove. Vulnerable structures in this area have been wrapped, and hose lines placed in preparation for the approaching fire. Crews are working to bring the fire north toward Stag Dome in an effort to keep it away from the lodge area.”




Incident managers from Indonesia visit the Rough Fire

Indonesia Command System

Incident management system trainers from Indonesia visit the Rough Fire in California. Inciweb photo.

This article first appeared on the InciWeb page for the Rough Fire, which has burned 66,542 acres near Hume Lake in southern California. Fire managers are calling it 25 percent contained.


“Indonesia, which is comprised of a group of 17,500 islands, is considered one of the most disaster prone areas in the world. Not do the mountains move (147 active volcanos), but the ground around the mountains seems to shake with earthquakes daily, reportedly with at least a 5.0 tremor every day. On December 26, 2004 Indonesia recorded the third largest earthquake ever recorded with the longest duration of faulting ever observed. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimeter and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

Shortly after the 2004 earthquake, the government realized that the country needed a system to help manage disasters. The government approached the United States to teach and provide technical expertise on the Incident Command System (ICS) for the tsunami-prone areas. A series of training courses was conducted in partnership with the governments of Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

18 individuals from Indonesia who are considered trainers arrived at the Rough Fire on August 28. They will be traveling to big cities in California to learn and participate in certain aspects of the ICS over the next few weeks. They expected that by arriving in the month of August they would have the opportunity to see the ICS at work during a large incident.

“The Team” will be at the Rough Base Camp to observe certain sections of the command system, so they can pass along their knowledge and educate the other Indonesians about ICS. On one particular Island, the team stated they have over five thousand trained volunteers. Many islands in Indonesia are difficult to access, similar to The Rough Fire. The team has changed the name of the management system to “Indonesian Command System”.”


Installing a hose lay on the Rough Fire. Undated InciWeb photo. (We think this is not the group from Indonesia.)

Installing a hose lay on the Rough Fire. Undated InciWeb photo. (We think this is not the group from Indonesia.)

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


U.S. Forest Service update from the Pacific Southwest

Map, fires in the West, 8-19-2015

Map, large uncontained wildfires in the West, August 19, 2015.

This update from Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore was circulated this week. The report covers the fire siege update for the U.S. Forest Service’s Region 5.


The personnel working our fires are making significant progress towards containment.  Although clear skies did increase fire behavior good progress continues with resources on hand.
Up north the Mad River Complex is on top of our priority list.  The complex is being managed by the Northern Rockies IMT1 (Turman).  The team is also managing the Route Complex.
Both complexes are experiencing active burning throughout the night with single tree and group tree torching.  Containment percentages on both complexes are rising and hopefully this incoming weather will help increase those numbers.
 If everything goes as planned we will be demobilizing Area Command over the weekend.  All indications are that the Area Command Team was an asset and benefit to the Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers. The coordination between the Forest Agency Administrators, Fire Staff, the Coordination Center, and the Area Command Team worked very well and provided clarity for roles and responsibilities during large incidents.
 In South Ops the Rough Fire is our top priority.  CA Type 2 IMT (Cooper) remains in command of the North Zone of the fire and CA Type 1 IMT 3 (Vontillow) remains in command of the South Zone of the fire.  Unfortunately Hwy 180 remains closed to through traffic and all forest closures remain in place.
In the South Zone, efforts in the Ten Mile drainage have significantly reduced the structure threat to commercial and residential structures in the Hume Lake area.  Critical line construction is near completion from Hwy 180 to the Kings River.  The fire does continue to spread east and into the Boulder Creek drainage. In the North Zone, the corner of the fire at the confluence of the Middle and North Forks of the Kings River has been secured. The fire reached the river mid-morning Wednesday.
This fire is receiving a lot of attention from many interested individuals and groups.  I think it’s important to remember that all fires on NFS lands in California have protection objectives, and none are being ‘managed’ specifically for additional resource benefit Forest Plan objectives.  Safety and fiscal risks relative to strategies and tactics with low probabilities of success are not being pursued:  all fires have suppression strategies, including the Cabin Fire on the Sequoia NF which is using a ‘confinement’ suppression strategy.  The Rough Fire on the Sierra NF, and now on the Sequoia NF, from its inception has had a suppression strategy, as have all fires on the Shasta Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests.
We have been quite successful in implementing salvage efforts for the past few years.   We have completed the NEPA process for several large projects in less than a year and although litigated we have prevailed in both District Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.    With the experience we gained, the region has worked to develop a streamline approach to request and get approvals for Emergency Situations Determinations from the Chief.  We have received approval from the Chief on 100% of all ESDs (possibly Ecological Site Descriptions) requested in the last three years, which effectively shortens the time from planning to project advertisement.
In addition we have been successful with requesting and obtaining approvals from the Council of Environmental Quality for alternative arrangements.   As a region, over the past 2 years, alternative arrangements have been granted by CEQ for the Rim Fire (Stanislaus) and King Fire (El Dorado NF).
With this emphasis on fire salvage, we do have some challenges that we are working to overcome.  One item that has been an issue is industry capacity, especially due to the amount of salvage available from private land.   Another issue has been capacity of personnel; currently we have most of our resource specialists serving as resource advisors or they are on Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation Teams. This other priority work for our specialists does have an effect on our startup time for the salvage analysis efforts.
Although, these challenges exist, the region will continue to emphasize salvage as this tool is vital to making our communities, roads, administrative sites and trails safe for our publics.   However important, we must balance salvage, reforestation and proactive forest restoration treatments in order to recover resilient forests.     To achieve timely and legally defensible projects, we will use all the tools (ESDs, Alternative Arrangement, and Categorical Exclusions) to restore our nation’s forest.   Your voice and written support for these salvage efforts will strengthen the rationale and importance of these projects.
As I close I want to mention that many of the out of state resources that came to help us have been returned to their home units to supplement thinly stretched firefighters in their local unit suppression efforts.  We really can’t say “thank you” enough to all those who responded during our time of critical need.  I am sure we will be returning the favor down the road.  I am also sure we can all remember what it felt like to be working on a fire and knowing that your town back home was threatened.  It shows some real professionalism and grace to keep working while you’d rather be back home.
As might be expected all of the complexes have postponed repair work for now.  The R5 GACC’s have made resources typically held for repair work available for reassignment in the other geographic areas with critical needs.  When fire activity has calmed we will get the crews back for repair work and I am anticipating we will be hosting them for some time.
Randy Moore
Regional Forester
Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Region

Rough Fire, east of Fresno, CA, continues to spread near Hume Lake

(This article is no longer being updated, but there was an update on Wildfire Today on September 3, 2015.)


(UPDATE at 6:45 a.m. PT, August 24, 2015)

Rough Fire

Undated InciWeb photo from the Rough Fire.

The Rough Fire just east of Hume Lake, California was fairly active again Sunday afternoon in multiple areas. As a result of fire activity and firing operations, the burned area increased approximately 2,000 acres to a total of 49,440 acres or 77 square miles.

Direct fire suppression continued southwest of Hume Lake near Landslide Campground. The objective of this operation is to stop the southern spread south of Hume Lake and east of  the Kennedy Grove area. Aircraft continue to be used for  these direct suppression operations.

Crews conducted hand firing near Balch Camp on Sunday. The fire made a run up canyon and burned laterally across the slope approximately ¾ miles from Balch Camp. Retardant is being dropped from helicopters to build a retardant line from the river up slope to check the fire spread.

Map of the Rough Fire

Map of the Rough Fire. The red dots represent heat detected at 1:47 a.m. PT August 24, 2015.

The Grant Grove and Wilsonia areas of Kings Canyon National  Park will reopen in stages Monday and Tuesday. At noon on Monday the General Grant Tree,  Panoramic Point, park trails, John Muir Lodge, Grant Grove  Cabins, restaurant, market, and gift shop will open. On Tuesday at 8 a.m., the Kings Canyon Visitor  Center will reopen, and at noon Tuesday Sunset Campground will open.


(UPDATE at 11:15 a.m. PT, August 22, 2015)

Rough Fire

Rough Fire as seen from the Buck Rock cam at 4:41 p.m. PT, Aug 21, 2015.

The Rough Fire at Hume Lake, California, 36 miles east of Fresno, has spread south of Hume Lake and continues to grow on the west side north of Kings River and Highway 180. The incident Management Team is calling it 47,079 acres. Approximately 1,484 personnel are assigned to the incident.

Continue reading


72-hour report released for August 8 firefighter fatality

The U.S. Forest Service has released a preliminary 72-hour report on the line of duty death of firefighter Michael Scott Hallenbeck who was killed by a falling tree August 8 in California.

Below is the text from a memo dated August 12, 2015 signed by Thomas G. Wagner, the leader of the Coordinated Response Team assigned to the accident. Click on the image to see a larger version.

72-hour report, Hallenbeck LODD