Wildfire briefing May 10, 2013

Smokejumping into pot

Smokejumpers who parachuted into the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon to suppress a lightning-caused fire discovered a marijuana plantation in the Applegate area on Monday.

The jumpers reported the garden, and Jackson County sheriff’s spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said law enforcement officers hiked in to the area and seized two guns and more than 1,000 small marijuana plants. Carlson said it appeared to be an operation run by Mexican drug gangs.

In addition to the pot, the garden had fertilizer, PVC piping, and a great deal of trash.

Military and civilian agencies conclude fire training at Camp Pendleton

Five military, law enforcement, and fire agencies concluded their annual wildfire training at California’s Camp Pendleton Thursday. Here are some excerpts from the Union Tribune:

Marine Corps units from Camp Pendleton and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing joined sailors from Navy Region Southwest, and units from Cal Fire and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for this week’s sixth annual wildfire training exercise.

Cal Fire signed an agreement with the Navy in 2004 and the Marine Corps in 2007, and the three agencies began holding annual three-day training exercises in 2008.

On Thursday, the third and final day of the exercise, helicopters filled 300-plus-gallon buckets by dropping them into Lake Pulgas, then emptied the massive containers over a marked spot in the hills. The battle against the simulated fire included ground crews and bulldozer operations, an added component to the training.

More good news for local residents is the Marine Corps has two more CH-46 helicopters at its disposal for potentially fighting fires than in the past. Last year, just one of the helicopters was available, because the others were deployed, Lt. Col. Dana Gemmingen said. This year, up to three CH-46 helicopters could be available, he said.

Lightning today

As this is written at 1:06 p.m. MT, I am hearing thunder in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Darren Clabo, the South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist, wrote the following this morning when describing a frontal passage expected today:

…The forecasted combination of relative low RHs, favorable fuel characteristics, a chance of lightning, and shifting winds may lead to problematic fire weather conditions this afternoon. This is not a Red Flag Warning day but conditions still warrant a heads-up.

Other western states experiencing lightning right now include Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Montana, and Texas.

Lessons Learned Center web site back up

The web site of the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center was down for part of this week, leaving wildfirelessons.net and myfirecommunity.net inoperable for three days — Monday through Wednesday. It is back up, but not at 100 percent capability. They are still making some repairs.

Farm workers fired for fleeing California wildfire

Fifteen strawberry pickers who were fired last week for fleeing when a large wildfire was burning nearby, have been rehired.

MAFFS training concludes in Cheyenne

Training and recertification for Air National Guard Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) C-130 crews from Wyoming and North Carolina concluded today. Below is a photo of one of the four aircraft. We have more photos over at Fire Aviation.

MAFFS training near Cheyenne, Wyoming. USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Rich Kerner.
MAFFS training near Cheyenne, Wyoming. USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Rich Kerner.

Forest Service report spotlights fire risk for homes on the edge of wildlands

In a recently released report, U.S. Forest Service researchers noted that about 90 percent of fuel reduction treatments on national forests were effective in reducing the intensity of wildfire while also allowing for better wildfire control.

The report, “Wildfire, Wildlands, and People: Understanding and Preparing for Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface,” synthesizes the latest research and provides examples of what communities in the wildland-urban interface can do to reduce their risk by becoming “fire adapted.” Aimed at community planners, the report also underscores the important roles that homeowners and local, state, and federal governments play in reducing risk and describes available tools and resources.

Department Secretaries to visit NIFC

The Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture, Sally Jewell and Tom Vilisack, will visit the National Interagency Fire Center Monday. Ms. Jewell was recently confirmed in her new position and supervises the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Fire in Florida

Stefan Willett of Daytona, Florida, aka @bassking511, just tweeted the following photo with the hashtags  #jupiter and #fl. He described it as “huge fire off the highway”.

Florida fire,

Update: check out the recent articles at Fire Aviation

 

Thanks go out to Kelly, Andy, and Barry.

Everglades National Park’s Boy Scout prescribed fire

Everglades National Park has produced another excellent video about their prescribed fire program. You may have seen one of their others, River of Grass, by then National Park Service employee Jennifer Brown, who now has her own video production company, Into Nature Films. Ms. Brown made this video as well, working with Fire Management Officer/Executive Producer Rick Anderson.

Here is the description of this video:

“National Park Service managers conduct a prescribed fire in cooperation with Boy Scouts of America. Camp Everglades is in the Pine Rocklands of Everglades National Park. This active Boy Scout Camp is in a fire dependent pine forest. Plants and animals that live in this rare and imperiled forest have adapted to frequent fires that are ignited by the abundant lightning that visits the land during summer storms. Humans may have used fire in this area to stimulate the growth of fresh green shoots in this otherwise nutrient poor forest. Coontie, a primitive plant who’s roots were processed to make a starch-rich bread by Native peoples and Florida pioneers, responds well to frequent fire. Everglades fire managers work with the Boy Scouts to reduce accumulations of brush and other flammable vegetation to reduce the threat of severe unplanned wildfires.”

 

Thanks go out to Tristan

Photos of the Huckabee Fire

Huckabee Fire

These photos were taken by Cass Palmer, the Incident Commander of the Huckabee Fire which is burning in Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida. Mr. Palmer is an employee of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and is a Fire Management Officer for that agency. We wrote about the fire earlier.

Huckabee Fire Huckabee Fire

Florida: Huckabee Fire burns 16,000 acres

Huckabee Fire
Huckabee Fire. NPS photo.

UPDATE at 12:16 p.m. ET, April 1, 2013

The Huckabee Fire 26 miles east of Naples, Florida continued to require intermittent closures of Interstate 75 overnight due to smoke and fog, but it reopened Monday morning. Burning in Big Cypress National Preserve, the fire has blackened 20,000 acres and is 40% contained, according to Cass Palmer, the Incident Commander of a Type 3 incident management team running the fire.

On Sunday firefighters conducted a 4,000-acre burnout which reduced the visibility on the Interstate and required a temporary closure. A minor accident on the highway was managed as an incident within an incident by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Firefighters have observed the fire spreading at 80 to 100 chains per hour (5,280 to 6,600 feet per hour) and spot fires up to 600 feet ahead. A large Type 1 helicopter and a Hotshot crew arrived at the fire Sunday.

According to the Incident Status Summary, the Incident Commander expects to fully contain the fire on Monday, April 1.

****

(Originally published at 9:29 p.m. ET, March 31, 2013)

Map of Huckabee Fire
Map of Huckabee Fire at 3:48 p.m. ET, 3-31-2013. The red areas indicate locations most recently burned that were detected by a satellite.

A wildfire in Big Cypress National Preserve has forced the closure of Interstate 75 in Alligator Alley. As of 1 p.m. ET the Huckabee Fire 26 miles east of Naples, Florida had burned 16,000 acres since it started 48 hours earlier. The fire is 10 percent contained and the cause is described as suspicious by the staff of the Preserve.

I checked the weather at the Panther East automatic weather station 2.5 miles northwest of the fire and the conditions have not been extreme. The temperature on Sunday ranged from an overnight low of 47° to a high of 86°. The minimum relative humidity on Sunday was 37 percent, which is a little low for south Florida. The wind has been 8 mph out of the southwest with gusts to 15.

Time-lapse video of a prescribed fire in longleaf and slash pine


This is a time-lapse video (spanning over 2 hours) of a dormant season prescribed fire in a mixed longleaf pine / slash pine flatwoods stand in the University of Florida Austin Cary Forest near Gainesville, Florida. This particular stand within the forest is burned on an annual basis during the months of January and February to demonstrate the influence of burn season on vegetative composition, fuel characteristics, and fire behavior. The burn was conducted in January 2013 by Austin Cary Forest Staff along with University of Florida faculty, staff, and students from the 2013 Fire Ecology and Management class.

For more information about fire science and wildland fire management in the southern U.S., visit the Southern Fire Exchange (http://www.southernfireexchange.org/).

via @RMIMTTeamC & @FireScienceGOV

Aerial imagery of fire in Port Orange, FL

Brush fire, Port Orange, FL

On Tuesday WESH Chopper 2 was streaming live video of a vegetation fire in Port Orange, Florida, near Daytona Beach (map). The fire was in a strip of trees between a lake and a subdivision. Adjacent to the vegetation were numerous cul-de-sacs, and parked in each one were at least two fire engines, usually a brush engine and a large structure engine. These images are screen grabs from the live video.

Brush fire, Port Orange, FL Brush fire, Port Orange, FL