Deceased person found in Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad, California

Poinsettia Fire, screen grab from Fox TV at 120 pm PDT, May 14, 2014

Poinsettia Fire, screen grab from Fox TV at 1:20 p.m. PDT, May 14, 2014.

A deceased person has been found inside the perimeter of the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad, California.

The City announced today that during mopup of the 400-acre blaze, firefighters were alerted to a transient encampment in the area of Ambrosia and Calliandra.  On checking the area, firefighters located a badly burned body. Further details about the deceased are unknown at this time and the investigation is ongoing. There have been no other reported injuries or fatalities.

Carlsbad is on the Pacific coast between Oceanside and San Diego. More information about the Poinsettia Fire which started May 14, 2014.


Firefighter dies fighting his own fire

The Lac La Biche Post reports that a 70-year old volunteer firefighter in Rich Lake, Alberta died May 12 while fighting a vegetation fire at his residence.

…According to a press release from Lac La Biche County, the man reported a grass fire at his residence before attempting to extinguish it. A County peace officer arrived at the scene to find the man, who had recently suffered cardiac arrest.

“We are very saddened by this tragic event,” Acting Mayor Robert Richard said in the release, which described the man as a long-serving, respected local volunteer firefighter and did not reveal his name before family members were notified. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.”

The person has not been identified yet, but our sincere condolences go out to the family.


Wildfire briefing, May 7, 2014

Cause determined for southern California wildfire

Investigators found that the cause of the Etiwanda Fire that burned over 2,000 acres east of Los Angeles last week was an illegal campfire. The Colby Fire that burned almost 2,000 acres in January east of Los Angeles near Glendora was also blamed on an illegal campfire.

Report released for fatality on Grassy Mountain Fire

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has posted the factual report for the fatality of a dozer transport operator on the Grassy Mountain Fire August 10, 2013 southeast of Rome, Oregon.

Report: firefighter kills intruder

The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) is reporting that a firefighter shot and killed an intruder in the firefighter’s garage. The victim was Diren Dede, a 17-year old German exchange student, which has stirred up interest in the case overseas.

Prosecutors have charged 29-year old Markus Kaarma with homicide.

The CSM referred to Mr. Kaarma as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter. The Missoulian in two different articles referred to him also as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter, and then later as a “former firefighter”.

An excerpt from the CSM:

Kaarma’s live-in girlfriend told neighbors that someone had stolen marijuana from the firefighter’s garage stash on several occasions. Investigators say they removed a glass jar full of pot during the course of their investigation.

An open question is whether a jury will believe police allegations that Kaarma set a trap for Diren by opening the garage door and linking up a baby monitor feed before shooting blindly into the darkened garage after spotting movement.

Brush fire related deaths in Iowa hospitals

Officials in Iowa are concerned about the number of brush fire related deaths in Iowa hospitals recently. Between February and April this year, the University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center reports three people have died and three others have been injured as a result of brush fires.  During that same time period last year, 2013, the Burn Treatment Center reported one death and one injury from burns sustained in brush fires.  All four deaths were of people ages 75 years and older. Not all of the victims were Iowans; some were flown in from surrounding states.

Woman found dead in Omaha brush fire

Firefighters suppressing a brush fire in Omaha, Nebraska late Tuesday night found a deceased woman in the fire area near 14th and Mason. She has been identified as  30-year old Amanda Brown, who had been in and out of a homeless shelter in recent years.
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Ken.


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.


Wildfire briefing, April 22, 2014

Iowa resident dies while burning brush

Authorities in Iowa have identified a resident who was found by firefighters who responded to a brush fire on April 20 in Delaware County, about 40 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids.

From The Gazette:

…A Tuesday news release said Generose (Genny) Bennett, 78, of Oneida was apparently burning brush Sunday afternoon when the fire got out of control.

The update comes after the Greeley Fire Department responded to a cornfield fire in Oneida on Sunday at 2:11 p.m., where they discovered a body in the field.

Wildfire contained in Shenandoah National Park

WHSV described the size of the fire:

A wildfire in Shenandoah National Park is now down to 22 acres, after already burning 50 acres inside the park.

Burned bridge in Alberta back in service after burning on Sunday


Firefighter fatality map

NIOSH has created an interactive mapping system that enables a web site visitor to configure and view a map showing the locations of firefighter fatalities. The U.S. Fire Administration data, for the years 1994 through 2013, can be manipulated with numerous variables, including wildland fire and the year.

Unfortunately, the way the data is displayed is not consistent. Some multiple-fatality incidents are represented by a purple arrow with the number of fatalities. A quick look found, for example, that the 14 fatalities on the 1994 South Canyon Fire are represented by an icon that usually indicates a single fatality, and it does not include a number. In addition, it is not placed in the correct location in west-central Colorado.

Maybe it is a work in progress.

Below are a couple of examples of maps that can be produced. The first shows wildland fire fatalities in 2013 and the next is from 1994 through 2013.

NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Map, 2013 NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Map, 1994- 2013In spite of the bugs, which hopefully will get worked out, NIOSH should be congratulated for putting together this tool which could be very useful.