Prescribed fire escapes in California State Park

San Felipe Fire
San Felipe Fire as seen from Mt. Laguna at 9:50 a.m. PT, May 5, 2013 (click to enlarge)

(UPDATE at 7:18 a.m. PT, May 26, 2013)

CAL FIRE is reporting the fire has burned 2,650 acres and is 90 percent contained. Resources assigned include 612 personnel, 50 engines, 23 hand crews, 6 dozers and 11 water tenders.


(UPDATE at 12:19 p.m. PT, May 25, 2012)

After overnight GPS mapping, the fire is now listed at 1,800 acres and 70 percent containment.


(UPDATE at 5:30 p.m. PT, May 24, 2013)

The incident commander of the San Felipe fire northeast of Julian, California is calling it 1,850 acres and 70 percent contained.


(UPDATE at 3:27 p.m. PT, May 24, 2013)

The images from the Mt. Laguna camera show that the San Felipe Fire is not putting up as much smoke as it was earlier today. CAL FIRE, in a 2:30 p.m. update, reports that it has grown to 1,800 acres and is still 60 percent contained.


(Originally published at 10:25 a.m. PT, May 24, 2013)

A prescribed fire in Anza Borrego Desert State Park 4 miles northeast of Julian, California got away from firefighters around noon on Thursday. A change in the wind direction is being blamed for the escape, now named  the San Felipe Fire, that as of Thursday evening had burned 1,500 acres and was 60 percent contained.

The Ramona Sentinel reported that CAL FIRE conducted the prescribed fire.

Map of San Felipe Fire Anza Borrego
Map showing the approximate location of San Felipe Fire, heat detected by a satellite at 10:35 p.m. PT, May 23, 2013 (click to enlarge)

As of 6:15 p.m. on Thursday the resources assigned to the San Felipe Fire included 644 personnel, 65 engines, 24 hand crews, 5 air tankers, 7 helicopters, 5 dozers, and 13 water tenders.

An animation of still photos taken from Mt. Laguna Thursday afternoon is available HERE. A window may pop up outside of your browser. It will take a while to load, and it may not work in the Chrome browser.

The latest still image is available HERE.

The fire is in the same general location as the Vallecito Lightning Complex of fires that burned more than 15,000 acres in August.

California utility agrees to pay $37 million for 2007 fire

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.

Video of burnover on the 1987 Crank Fire

Crank Fire burnover
Crank Fire burnover, screen grab from video

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 written report about the burnover can be found HERE.

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.

California: Grand Fire threatens structures near Frazier Park

Map of Grand Fire
Map of Grand Fire, 2-D, perimeter, 9:23 p.m., May 17, 2013
Map of Grand Fire
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.

Resources assigned:

  • Total Fire Personnel: 1,452
  • Engines: 65
  • Fire crews: 81
  • Helicopters: 7
  • Dozers: 9
  • 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
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 5-15-2013
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.

New Landsat satellite photographs Springs fire

Springs Fire, Landsat photo
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.