Stephens Fire, east of Weed, California

Stephens Fire

Stephens Fire, February 24, 2014. USFS photo.

(Updated at 4:35 p.m. PT, February 26, 2015)

The U.S. Forest Service Wednesday night on Twitter said the Stephens Fire had grown by 50 acres, to 250 acres. The fire is 17 miles east of Weed, California. The Incident Commander has estimated that the 100 personnel on scene will have a fireline around it, meaning the fire is contained, by February 28, which is a revision from Wednesday’s estimate of March 2.


(Originally published at 3:41 p.m. PT, February 25, 2015)

The Stephens Fire has burned about 200 acres in northern California, 17 miles east of Weed. It spread onto the Shasta-Trinity National Forest after escaping from a prescribed fire in Siskiyou County on private land.

According to the USFS Wednesday afternoon:

While the burned area has expanded outside the original planned prescribed area, positive effects to natural resources are being met and suppression forces are in place to limit additional spread.

Tuesday night strong winds were driving the fire, producing short-range spotting. On Wednesday the fire activity is expected to be moderate, according to  the USFS, with possible spread south toward Stephens Pass Road and north toward FS Road 43N04.

The Incident Commander estimates the 100 personnel on scene will have a fireline around it by March 2.

map Stephens Fire

Map showing the approximate location of the Stephens Fire at 11:14 p.m. PT February 24, 2015. Click to enlarge.

Stephens Fire

Stephens Fire, February 24, 2014. USFS photo.

Further to the south, on Thursday the National Park Service is planning to burn 60 acres of a 533-acre burn unit in the Wawona area of Yosemite National Park near the South Entrance.


Five fires started from escaped burn piles near Eldorado National Forest

Eldorado National Forest fireOn Saturday, January 24, five fires were ignited by burn piles that escaped on private timber lands near the Eldorado National Forest in northeast California. Two of the fires burned 33 acres each. The piles were originally ignited in December. Judging from the photos and reports from firefighters, the fire behavior was impressive for January.

In 2014 the El Dorado NF only had one fire that required a Type 3 Incident Commander. That was the King Fire fire east of Placerville, California where 12 firefighters deployed their fire shelters in front of advancing flames and were directed to safety by a helicopter pilot.

These excellent photos were taken by Michael Loeffler, an Engine Captain on the Eldorado NF.

Eldorado National Forest fire Eldorado National Forest fire

Eldorado National Forest map


Slash burns rekindle in Oregon

Hug Point Fire Oregon

From the Oregon Department of Forestry: “Mop-up continues on the Hug Point Fire (erstwhile Hug Point Complex). Rain is expected to close out these rekindled slash burns by the end of the week. (Photo by Dan Goody, ODF)”

Multiple logging slash burns rekindled Tuesday in Oregon east of Highway 101 between Cannon Beach and Arch Cape on lands owned by the Stimson Lumber Company. Tuesday night east winds in excess of 40 mph with gusts over 70 mph fanned the fire, consuming slash piles in four post-harvest units.

Personnel from the lumber company and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) were on scene and were joined Wednesday by more firefighters from the Tillamook and Forest Grove ODF district offices. By evening there were about 70 personnel, including five hand crews, working on the 100 acres of fire that became the Hug Point Complex.

Rain began falling Thursday morning which is aiding control and mop up, but by the weekend the weather is expected to change to cold, dry, windy conditions.


Oklahoma: one person killed and six homes destroyed in wildfire

(UPDATED at 12:42 p.m. May 7, 2014)

The wildfire near Guthrie, Oklahoma burned approximately 3,250 acres. One
civilian fatality is attributed to this fire and an estimated 46 structures have been lost, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS). The fire has been turned back to local command with all containment lines holding through Tuesday’s weather conditions. OFS will have a Task Force with 3 dozers and 3 engines assisting with patrol and mop up on Wednesday.


(UPDATED at 11:57 a.m. CDT, May 6, 2014)

The wildfire near Guthrie, Oklahoma continued to be active on Monday due to strong winds and low relative humidity. The weather forecast for Tuesday is similar, predicting Red Flag conditions,  with 94 degrees, 23 percent relative humidity, and 24 mph winds gusting up to 33 mph. Tuesday morning the fire was reported to be 90 percent contained.

In the video below, Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow provides an update on the fire. It was recorded May 5, probably late in the day, and was uploaded to YouTube on May 6. 

Despite earlier reports provided by fire officials, investigators with the Oklahoma state Department of Agriculture and the state Fire Marshall’s Office have found no evidence the fire started as a controlled burn.


(UPDATED at 7:15 p.m. CT, May 5, 2014)

Map of fire near Guthrie, OK 250 pm CT May 5, 2014

Map of fire near Guthrie, OK, showing the approximate locations of heat detected by a satellite at 2:50 p.m. CT, May 5, 2014. The red and yellow dots represent the location of the heat.

The location of the fire is southeast of Guthrie, Oklahoma, 24 miles north of Oklahoma City, and east of Interstate 35 (map).

The local fire departments have not released information about the exact location of the origin of the fire, but they did say it started from a “controlled burn” — which could mean anything from a resident burning trash in their back yard, to a rancher burning a pasture. Google Earth did not show any indication that any federal land was in the area of the fire.

Fox23 in a Monday afternoon report said at least a dozen homes have burned and the estimated size of the fire is now 3,000 to 3,500 acres. National Guard Blackhawk helicopters worked the fire Monday.

From Fox23:

Gov. Mary Fallin visited the command post Monday, and said the US Forestry Services crews were creating fire lines and that she put in a request to get an air tanker flown to Guthrie from Arizona.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management three National Guard Blackhawk helicopters, two single engine air tankers (SEATs), and “a Tanker 415″ will be available Tuesday evening. The “Tanker 415″ could be Tanker 260, Aero-Flite’s CL-415 that was reported by Wildfire Today reader Tom Wilson (in a comment below) to be relocating from Florida to Oklahoma City on Monday. Fire Aviation had an article about Tanker 260 in November.

According to state law the Oklahoma Division of Forestry is the operational lead for wildfire emergencies.

The video below, uploaded to YouTube about 3 p.m. on Monday, has views of the fire from an aircraft.


(Originally published at 11:52 a.m. CT, May 5, 2015)

Fire officials said a controlled burn near Guthrie, Oklahoma escaped on Sunday and killed one person and destroyed at least six homes. Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow said the number of damaged homes was expected to rise after they are able to better assess the four to six square mile (2,560 to 3,840 acre) fire after sunrise on Monday. About 1,000 people evacuated on Sunday, but most of those have been able to return to their homes.

Chief Harlow said the 56-year old man who was killed had refused to evacuate when requested by his family and law enforcement.

On Sunday the fire was pushed by strong winds and dry conditions. The weather forecast for the Guthrie area on Monday calls for similar weather — 100 degrees, 17 to 20 mph southeast winds gusting to 28 mph, and single-digit relative humidities.

Early Monday morning Chief Harlow said:

We still have some hot spots but for the most part we do have control of this thing. I’m still going to say 75 percent containment. Three of the four sides are contained. The north side I’m not going to say is 100 percent contained yet.

He said the fire started from a controlled burn on one of two properties, but did not know exactly what the land owner had initially intended to burn.

They have requested helicopters from the National  Guard which would arrive at 11 a.m. at the earliest.

The video below is a recording of a live media briefing early Monday morning featuring Chief Harlow.


Florida: prescribed fire escapes at St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge

Saint Johns National Wildlife Refuge, map

A prescribed fire escaped at a national wildlife refuge east of Orlando on Monday. The plan was to burn 660 acres within St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge, but multiple simultaneous spot fires outside the burn unit exceeded the capability of the firefighters from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge who were conducting the burn. An additional 72 acres of private land and 200 acres of Brevard County property outside the refuge burned — 600 acres in the original planned unit were completed.

The escape was knocked down by 43 personnel on Monday. Today spokesperson Candice Stevenson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the fire is 70 percent contained. Agencies involved in the suppression of the escaped fire included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Brevard County, Florida Forest Service, the City of Titusville, and the U.S. Forest Service.



Iowa prescribed fire escapes, burns private property

Burned property in Iowa

Glen Dale Geiger examines his property that burned during an escaped prescribed fire in Iowa. Photo from KCRG.

A prescribed fire conducted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources escaped on April 12 and burned onto three nearby properties. One of the victims was Glen Dale Geiger who lost three structures containing farm equipment and his pride and joy, a 1960 convertible that burned exactly 54 years to the day after he bought it. Mr. Geiger said other equipment lost included, “My corn picker, corn planter, my baler, feed wagons, my other wagon sitting outside, my camper in the corn crib, snow blower, bicycles,”

At first the DNR said the National Weather Service gave them “the wrong forecast”, but they later backtracked from that, saying the DNR did not follow protocol in checking the weather for the site of the prescribed fire.
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Chip.