California: Casitas Fire in Ventura County burns 50 acres

Fire photographer Jeff Zimmerman sent us this photo of the Casitas Fire near Highway 33 in Ventura County in southern California. It started on April 28 and burned 50 acres before being contained.

Jeff wrote:

Another fast moving brush fire in Ventura County forced crews for a short time to retreat into a safety zone on a ridge top, in very steep terrain along Highway 33 at Casitas Vista Dr. and Ventura Ave. Approximately 60 acres were charred as crews raced to cut off the lateral spread. As the afternoon winds increased in speed from the west the fire jumped control lines, forcing crews into the black on top of the ridge line. The spot fire jumped the ravine and came up canyon in a steep bowl covered in grass and sage. I don’t think anyone was injured but it is a reminder that fire season is here in Southern California. Numerous agencies from Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, Kern County, Los Angeles County and the United States Forest all worked in unison to control the blaze.

More information from Twitter about the fire:

The image below, which seems to be a photo of a computer screen, appears to show not only the fire perimeter but also the location of firefighting units. Click on it a couple of times to see a larger version.

CAL FIRE’s Butte Fire investigation blames power company for poor line maintenance

CAL FIRE is seeking $90 million in restitution from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Map Butte Fire
CAL FIRE’s map of the Butte Fire dated September 12, 2016

An investigation of last September’s 70,868-acre Butte Fire by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection determined that poor maintenance of a power line led to a tree contacting the line, causing the blaze. The fire destroyed a total of 921 structures, including; 549 homes, 368 outbuildings, and 4 commercial properties. Only five other fires in California have destroyed more structures.

Two residents were killed in the fire.

In addition to the $90 million that CAL FIRE is seeking from PG&E, 17 law firms are representing 1,800 people who expect to be reimbursed for damages.

And that is not all of the lawsuits. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Sacramento Bee:

…Calaveras County supervisors say they will seek “hundreds of millions in compensation” from PG&E for the fire, estimated to have caused more than $1 billion in damage in that county.

The county expects to file a civil lawsuit in Superior Court, seeking to recover the county’s costs of responding to the fire, cleanup efforts, and losses of public property, county officials said.

“We are shocked and dismayed by the extent of PG&E’s negligence and will actively seek justice for Calaveras County and its citizens,” said Cliff Edson, chair of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors.

The county will also ask the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate PG&E’s role in the fire, much like the agency did following the fatal 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, said county counsel Megan Stedtfeld. The San Bruno blast killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood, leading the commission to order the utility to make $1.5 billion in payments to the state and customers and for safety improvements…

Articles on Wildfire Today tagged Butte Fire.

Arsonist’s selfie at King Fire leads to sentence of 20 years in prison

A man’s selfie video was one of the important pieces of evidence that led to him becoming a suspect in starting the 2014 King Fire that burned about 100,000 acres east of Placerville, California. Wayne Allen Huntsman, who pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of felony arson, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to pay $60 million in restitution.

Wayne Allen Huntsman
Wayne Allen Huntsman

After starting the fire, Mr. Huntsman showed someone he had just met who was giving him a ride, a video of himself standing near two points of origin of the King Fire. The good citizen recorded Mr. Huntsman’s video and reported what he had seen. Three days later Mr. Huntsman was in jail. Media outlets reported that he was held in lieu of $10 million bail.

On September 15, 2014, during the fire suppression efforts, 12 firefighters on an inmate crew became at least partially entrapped and deployed their fire shelters. But they were not in a safe deployment site. Pilots in firefighting aircraft talked to them on the radio and directed them as they walked and ran a considerable distance to a location where they could be extracted by helicopters.

The charges against Mr. Huntsman included a special allegation — arson with aggravating factors. The complaint said those factors were:

A firefighter, peace officer, or other emergency personnel suffered great bodily injury as a result of the offense.

His criminal history at the time of arrest showed four past felonies, including three 1997 convictions in Santa Cruz County for assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft and auto theft.

Below is a video of Mr. Huntsman’s video recorded by the person that gave Mr. Huntsman a ride.

This next video is an excellent report on the whole story. At first I thought the audio at the beginning was screwed up, but the multiple voices eventually resolve to normal narration.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest conducts Green Mountain prescribed fire

On Thursday, April 7th, the National Recreation Area Management Unit of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in northern California conducted a prescribed fire on Green Mountain, north of Redding near the confluence of the Squaw and Pit Arms of Shasta Lake.

When we read the tweet above we called to get more information. Andrea Crain of the Shasta-Trinity NF said they had a few small spot fires across the intended border of the unit they burned yesterday, but it was still within the project area. The largest spot fire was about a quarter acre.

Click on the pictures a couple of times to see larger versions.


(UPDATE at 6:43 p.m. MDT, April 8, 2016)

John Waldrop sent us this photo of the Green Mountain prescribed fire as seen from the Pit River Bridge on Lake Shasta.

Green Mountain prescribed fire
Green Mountain prescribed fire as seen from Lake Shasta. Photo by John Waldrop.

The reborn 747 Supertanker arrives at Sacramento

T-944 747
Tanker 744 at McClellan Air Field, March 22, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The 747 SuperTanker arrived at McClellan Air Field in Sacramento today after flying in from Marana, Arizona where it received a new paint job. It will be on static display for attendees the Aerial Firefighting conference until Wednesday, March 23.

Bob Soelberg, Senior VP and Program Manager of Global Supertaker, said the retardant delivery system still needs a few tweaks before it can actually drop water or retardant, but they hope to have it ready to fight fire later this year.

T-944 747
Retardant delivery system on Tanker 744 at McClellan Air Field, March 22, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-944 747
Tanker 744 at McClellan Air Field, March 22, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-944 747
Retardant delivery system on Tanker 744 at McClellan Air Field, March 22, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-944 747
Retardant nozzles on Tanker 744 at McClellan Air Field, March 22, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-944 747
Tanker 744 at McClellan Air Field, March 22, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

This article first appeared on For more information about the 747 visit these articles at the site tagged 747.

Mt. Laguna prescribed fire still visible on web cam

The prescribed fire in southern California we told you about yesterday can still be watched in near-real time on web cams. The U.S. Forest Service is conducting the project near the San Diego State University Observatory on Mt. Laguna east of San Diego (my old stomping grounds).

You can watch the progress of the burn in near-real time via the HPWREN web camera site. The still photos, updated frequently, are available on two cameras, looking north and west.

prescribed fire Mt. Laguna 1424 3-18-2016


Mt Laguna Rx fire 1302 PDT 3-17-2016
The yellow squares represent the location of heat detected by a satellite at 1:02 p.m. PDT March 17, 2016. Click to see a larger version.