California: some firefighters released from the Powerhouse Fire

(UPDATE at 6:40 a.m. PT, June 5, 2013)

Since the firefighters are wrapping up the Powerhouse fire north of Los Angeles, this will be the last update unless significant activity occurs.

Residents have been allowed back into all of the communities affected by the fire. Proof of residency is required to gain access behind the road closures. Future fire growth is expected to be minimal. Crews continue to complete line construction, patrol and mop-up. Excess fire resources are being demobilized so they can be ready to respond to other incidents.

  • Structures Destroyed: 16
  • Acres: 32,032
  • Containment: 65%
  • Estimated Cost: $11,400,000


(UPDATE at 3:25 p.m. PT, June 4, 2013)

Map of Powerhouse Fire, June 3, 2013
Map of Powerhouse Fire, 10:22 p.m. PT, June 3, 2013

Firefighters are beginning to get a better handle on the Powerhouse Fire north of Los Angeles. Fire spread was minimal overnight with only 24 acres being added. The majority of active fire is along Elizabeth Canyon and Hughes Lake Road northwest to Sawtooth Mountain.

Today crews continued to strengthen fire lines in the southern portion of the fire. Hand crews supported by air resources took advantage of opportunities to construct direct fireline on the west side of the fire. In the Sawtooth Mountain and Sawmill Mountain areas the fire has potential to spread. Fuels in the area have not burned since 1928.

The size is listed at 32,032 acres with 60 percent containment. Some of the resources assigned to the fire include: 2,034 personnel, 155 fire engines, 54 hand crews, 11 helicopters, 27 dozers, 8 air tankers, 33 water tenders. The total estimated cost to date is $8.7 million.

Residents have been allowed to return to the communities of Green Valley, Leona Valley, Elizabeth Lake and Lake Hughes. The evacuation order for the Fairmont area of Antelope Acres was lifted today at noon. Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake Canyon Roads remain closed.

Carlton Joseph’s Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire Monday at 6 p.m. The fire is being run under a unified command with the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and Los Angeles County. In addition to Mr. Joseph, the other Incident Commanders are Dave Richardson, John Tripp, and Phil Veneris.

Helitanker 718, Powerhouse Fire
Helitanker 718 getting water from Elizabeth Lake. Photo by Greg Cleveland.


(UPDATE at 5:48 a.m. PT, June 4, 2013)

There has been very little change in the fire perimeter of the Powerhouse Fire over the last 24 hours. Firefighters are cleaning up the fireline and burning out to remove fuels. We will post more details around the middle of the day today.


(UPDATE at 9:22 p.m. PT, June 3, 2013)

The Powerhouse fire is now listed at 32,008 acres and 60 percent containment. Today there were 2,185 personnel assigned to the fire. Higher humidities today slowed the spread of the fire, in spite of the strong winds.


(UPDATE at 11:43 a.m. PT, June 3, 2013)

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory which includes the portion of the Powerhouse fire that has burned out into the Antelope Valley. This is not good news for firefighters. The winds are predicted to be out of the southwest at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45. The area near the fire can expect gusts as high as 55 mph. The strongest winds will occur Monday afternoon and evening. Similar conditions will likely redevelop Tuesday afternoon and evening.


(UPDATE at 8:38 a.m. PT, June 3, 2013; updated map added)

Map of the north end of the Powerhouse Fire
Map of the north end of the Powerhouse Fire, 12:55 a.m. June 3, 2013 (click to enlarge)

The Powerhouse Fire continued to spread across thousands of acres Sunday after burning around the communities of Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake. Firefighters protected hundreds of homes but six burned in the rapidly spreading fire.

Continue reading “California: some firefighters released from the Powerhouse Fire”

White Fire burns through Los Padres Hotshots compound

P2V drops on White Fire
A P2V air tanker drops on the White Fire, May 28, 2013. Photo by Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County FD

(UPDATE at 9:52 a.m. PT, May 29, 2013)

The maps below of the White Fire, 10 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, show the perimeter as of 8:50 p.m. PT on Tuesday. The incident management team has revised the size to 1,858 acres and the containment has increased to 80 percent.

Map of White Fire,
Map of White Fire, (north is at the top), 8:50 p.m. PT, May 28, 2013
Map of White Fire
Map of White Fire, looking south toward Santa Barbara, 8:50 p.m. PT, May 28, 2013


(UPDATE at 8:22 p.m. PT, May 28, 2013)

The fire has burned 2,025 acres and is threatening 50 residences, 5 commercial properties, and 50 outbuildings. One residence was damaged. The fire is 65% contained. Today there were 6 air tankers, 2 air attack aircraft, and 5 helicopters supporting firefighters on the ground.
Continue reading “White Fire burns through Los Padres Hotshots compound”

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.