Prescribed fire escapes on Fort Ord near Monterey

Fort Ord prescribed fire
Fort Ord prescribed fire at 11:11 a.m. October 15, 2013 nine hours before it escaped. Photo by Andrew Po.

A prescribed fire on Fort Ord near Monterey, California escaped Tuesday. The objective of the fire was to remove vegetation to make it easier to clear the area of unexploded ordnance. The plan was to burn 341 acres but it blacked an additional 100 acres. The fire was ignited in the morning and at 6 p.m. the Army said it was contained. Between 9 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. a large smoke plume was seen in the area.

This is the third escaped prescribed fire on Fort Ord in the last 16 years. In 1997, a planned 100-acre burn turned into a 700-acre wildfire. In 2003, a scheduled 490-acre burn jumped containment lines and burned 1,470 acres.

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UPDATE October 19, 2013: Rock, who was at the prescribed fire (see his comment below) sent us this photo taken at about 10 a.m., hours before the fire escaped.

Fort Ord prescribed fire 10 a.m. October 15, 2013
Fort Ord prescribed fire 10 a.m. October 15, 2013. Photo by Rock.

 

Thanks go out to Rock

California: Deluz Fire, Camp Pendleton

The Deluz Fire started near the Naval Hospital on Camp Pendleton southwest of Fallbrook, California Friday afternoon. By Sunday night the spread had stopped after burning about 2,500 acres and it was reported to be 20 percent contained. Some residents of the O’Neill Heights Housing area were evacuated Saturday but were allowed to return Sunday afternoon. Southern California Interagency Team 1 assumed command of the fire at 2:00 p.m. Sunday.

NBC News has a very interesting time-lapse video of  images from the Red Mountain web cam showing the fire from the moment it started.

The video below from CNN was shot by Maylette Brown at Camp Pendleton. She said “The fire started from the housing area and was pushed towards the Naval Base Hospital. The closer the fire got to the hospital, the thicker the flames and smoke got to us.”

 

Betty White, honorary Forest Ranger

Betty White, yes, THAT Betty White, the actress, is featured in a new fire prevention video fulfilling one of her duties as an honorary Forest Ranger. She worked with the California fire prevention agencies to create One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire.

Ms. White was designated an honorary Forest Ranger in 2010. She said in interviews that she wanted to be a forest ranger as a little girl, but that women were not allowed to do that then.

Betty White honorary Forest Ranger
Betty White (center, obviously) and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell (left), November 9, 2010

El Cariso Hotshots disbanded

The El Cariso Interagency Hotshots have been disbanded. El Cariso was one of the first two hotshot crews created about 60 years ago after World War II. For many decades they have been working out of the Trabuco District on the Cleveland National Forest in southern California.

El Cariso's logo
El Cariso’s logo, a Ruptured Duck

The El Cariso Interagency Hotshots have been disbanded.

It pains me as an alumni to write that. My first job as a firefighter was on the crew. El Cariso was one of the first two hotshot crews created about 60 years ago after World War II. For many decades they have been working out of the Trabuco District on the Cleveland National Forest in southern California.

The crew ended the 2012 fire season as a fully certified Type 1 Hotshot crew. But they began the 2013 season as a Type 2 crew due to vacancies at critical positions. Throughout the year their organization deteriorated, suffering more vacancies, as well as a lack of consistent supervision and crew leadership according to a high-ranking U.S. Forest Service official we talked with.

The crew lost both of their captains, their superintendent was detailed to the Forest Supervisor’s office, and as the latter part of the fire season approached they were not even qualified as a Type 2 Initial Attack crew. Due to these issues and concerns for firefighter safety, the National Forest shut down the crew when they returned from working on the Rim Fire at Yosemite National Park. The remaining permanent personnel were transferred to engine stations, but the temporary crew members were laid off.

The Forest expects this situation to be temporary, and next year will begin rebuilding the organization. With the long list of interagency requirements for hotshot crews, it will not be an easy task. We wish them luck in reconstituting the El Cariso Hotshots.

The crew has endured other disastrous situations in the past. In 1966 12 people on the crew died as a result of burn injuries on the Loop Fire on the Angeles National Forest in southern California. And in 1959 three members of the crew and four others were entrapped and killed on the Decker Fire just a few miles from their base west of Elsinore, California..

1970 El Cariso Hot Shots
1970 El Cariso Hot Shots. Superintendent Ron Campbell is in the center of the front row (without a hard hat); Assistant Superintendent Al Kuehl is on the left end of the front row; Bill Gabbert is fourth from the right in the front row.