Southern California Edison (SCE) has agreed to pay $37 million for starting the Canyon Fire in October, 2007 near Malibu, California, which burned 4,565 acres and 22 structures, including the Malibu Presbyterian Church. Investigators determined three utility poles that fell were overloaded with electrical equipment and wires, in violation of state regulations. Under the agreement, SCE would pay a $20 million fine to the state and spend $17 million on improving the safety of their utility pole network.
The agreement still has to be approved by the state utilities commission.
The poles were co-owned and also held equipment for four cell phone companies, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and NextG, all of which have already reached agreements about the fire, and expect to pay a total of $26.5 in fines.
The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has published a video about the burnover of three fire engines and a hand crew that occurred on the 1987 Crank Fire in northern California. Three engines were destroyed. The burnover was captured on video by a fixed wing aircraft that was conducting an aerial retardant study.
Under the direction of the four supervisors, two USFS and two CDF, all 25 firefighters deployed their fire shelters and remained under cover for about 40 to 45 minutes. The injuries which occurred were limited to a few first and second-degree burns, eye irritation, and minor smoke inhalation.
The burnover occurred on August 30 during the “Siege of 1987″, when lightning in late August started 1,600 fires in northern California and southern Oregon that burned 650,000 acres. Some of the fires burned into October.
Map of Grand Fire, 2-D, perimeter, 9:23 p.m., May 17, 2013
Map of Grand Fire, 3-D, perimeter, 9:23 p.m., May 16, 2013. Google Earth. Click to enlarge.
(UPDATED @ 8:40 a.m. PT, May 18, 2013)
CAL FIRE reports that there has been little to no increase in fire behavior observed. However, there are still areas of isolated flare ups of unburned islands well within the control lines. Demobilization will continue. There could be delays for resources departing the incident due to the Heartbreak Hundred Bicycle Race taking place in the area.
The updated size is 4,358 acres with 75 percent containment. Resources assigned include 1,853 personnel, 84 engines, 77 hand crews, 11 helicopters, 14 dozers, and 20 water tenders.
(UPDATED @ 8:15 a.m. PT, May 17, 2013)
Crews made significant progress overnight on the southern and northern sides of the fire, assisted by lower temperatures and higher humidity. The acreage increase to 4,100 is due to more accurate mapping, and the incident commander is calling it 35 percent contained. The US Forest Service, Kern County and Ventura County are in a Unified Command.
Total Fire Personnel: 1,452
Fire crews: 81
Water tenders: 20
(UPDATED with new maps at 12:43 p.m. PT, May 16, 2013)
(Originally published at 8:46 a.m. PT, May 16, 2013)
The Grand Fire was reported at noon on Wednesday near Frazier Park in southern California and quickly spread through light grass and medium brush, requiring the evacuation of Frazier Mountain High School. The fire remained active until 3 a.m. Thursday.
As you can see by the maps of the Grand Fire above, it is west of Interstate 5 and west of Gorman, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It is near where the borders of three counties intersect: Ventura, Kern, and Los Angeles.
Grand Fire, May 15, 2013 Kern County FD photo
At 7 a.m.Thursday the Southern California Geographic Area Operations Center said the fire had burned 2,800 acres as of 3 a.m. and was 25 percent contained. Kern County’s report at 7:20 a.m. said it was 3,500 acres with 15 percent containment and 1,000 firefighters were assigned. Approximately seven air tankers worked the fire Wednesday and six helicopters will be assist firefighters Thursday.
Agencies affected include the Los Padres National Forest, and the counties of Kern and Ventura.
Initial efforts by firefighters Thursday morning will concentrate on the southern edge of the fire with hand lines and dozer breaks on the western edge. Helicopters will be assisting crews on the ground.
CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 6, with Incident Commander Kaslin, has arrived and transition is planned for 6 p.m. today.
KERO TV in Bakersfield has live streaming video of a fire that may be the Grand fire, but these streams come and go and might disappear as news priorities change.
Grand Fire May 15, 2013. Photo by Melody Fountain.
Training is underway this week for the two California National Guard C-130 Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) air tankers based at the 146th Airlift Wing base at Point Mugu in Ventura County. It will be interesting to see if they do some training retardant drops on the Grand Fire which is 46 miles from the base.
Springs fire (in red), photographed May 4, 2013 by Landsat. NASA photo. (click to enlarge)
The new Landsat satellite launched a few months ago photographed the Springs fire that burned 24,251 acres northwest of Los Angeles earlier this month. The photo above was acquired on May 4, two days after the fire started.
At the NASA web site, there are many options for viewing and downloading more detailed images and the ability to click on “View Both Images” which causes a slider to appear enabling you to compare before and after satellite photos of the fire area. You can also download a Google Earth file.
The fire burned very, very close to thousands of homes, but none were destroyed. But 10 outbuildings were destroyed, and 6 commercial structures and 6 outbuildings were damaged. You have to give a lot of credit to the community planning and preparedness of the homeowners for the lack of damage to the residences.
The only time during World War II when Japanese forces bombed the American mainland occurred in 1942. They loaded a small airplane with two incendiary bombs, launched it from a submarine off the Oregon coast, and tried to set the state on fire. It did not work out too well for the Japanese. Apparently there was no wildland Fire Behavior Analyst on the submarine’s crew.
…[From his lookout tower Keith] Johnson didn’t see the submarine as it surfaced. The boat creaked as its bow broke through the waves to the surface of the Pacific Ocean. A loud bell gave the “all clear” for the men to spring into action. On board that I-25 submarine was a single engine Yokosuki E14Y aircraft. This small, two passenger float plane was compact enough to store in a submarine but had enough power in its nine cylinder 340 hp radial engine to carry bombs on light attack missions. A team of men rolled the plane out its hangar that stood next to the conning tower, unfolded its wings and tail, then loaded two 176 pound incendiary bombs underneath its wings…
But when the fog lifted [Howard] Gardner saw smoke. He called for help then set off towards the fire, which he assumed was a remnant from a lightning strike fire that had sparked the previous day. What he and his men found was a smoldering fire covering a circular area 50 to 75 feet across. They quickly got the fire under control and found a crater about three feet in diameter and about one foot deep at the centre of the site. Inside was evidence of intense heat, hot enough to fuse earth and rocks.
Here is an excerpt from The Tribune about a county in southern California prohibiting them under most conditions:
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed an ordinance prohibiting the ignition and launching of sky lanterns in the county areas outside the incorporated cities and fire districts. The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days.
A sky lantern — an airborne paper lantern sometimes called a “Chinese lantern” — is similar to a miniature hot air balloon. It is powered by a fuel cell or candle that heats the air, fills the balloon and makes the lantern fly up into the sky.
“What seems harmless is not, and these lanterns pose a serious threat to the citizens, property, and wildland areas of San Luis Obispo County,” said Cal Fire Chief Rob Lewin.
UPDATE at 9:14 p.m. MT, May 8, 2013:
After posting the above about the sky lanterns, we heard from Dietra A. Myers Tremblay who is studying Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance at the University of Hawaii. She said:
In regards to your May 8, 2013 Wildfire Briefing on sky lanterns, in 2012, Hawaii enacted a state law that prohibits the sale, offer for sale, distribution, possession, ignition, or other use of aerial luminaries also known as sky lanterns, Hawaii lanterns, and flying luminaries.