Report released on engine burnover in Idaho

Richfield fire, engine burnoverAn investigation report has been released for an engine that was destroyed by a wildland fire near Richfield, Idaho on July 16, 2014.

During the initial attack phase on the Bureau of Land Management Fire, a Type 4 engine from the Richfield, Idaho Rural Fire Department responded. The two people on the engine attempted to make a frontal attack on the head of the fire.

The engine got stuck, or high-centered, on a rock and could not be moved. The two people on the engine, a city employee and a “part-time” volunteer, in an attempt to protect the truck from the approaching fire used two small booster hoses, one-half inch in diameter with a flow rate of 10 gallons per minute. They had to abandon the engine as the fire got closer, and it was destroyed. There were no injuries to the personnel.

Below is an excerpt from the report. “ENG3″ is the apparatus that was destroyed by the fire:

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“…ENG3 proceeded south on the two track toward the head of the fire with FF2 riding on the top of the engine. The engine left the two track road and drove off-road toward a lava blister trying to access the active fire perimeter. Near the base of thelava blister, ENG3 struck a rock cluster high centering the rear axle of the vehicle and rendering ENG3 immobile. FF1 utilized four-wheel drive in an attempt to dislodge the vehicle, but sandy conditions caused ENG3’s side tires to sink. The rear axle of the apparatus pivoted on the rear differential, listing the vehicle to its right side. The driver’s rear tire was raised off the ground by 8-12 inches.

WT1 operator, FMO, and AFMO hiked west from the highway over the lava blister and observed ENG3 high centered on a rock in unburned fuel north of the active fire perimeter. The AFMO notified the IC at approximately 1215 of the immobilized engine. ENG3 crew deployed booster hose off both sides of the truck. FF2 worked from the right hose reel in front of the truck and south about 50 feet up the lava blister into sparser fuels. FF1 stayed near the front of the truck wetting a heavier pocket of unburned grass and brush.

ENG1 left the west flank and drove to the location of ENG3 to help remove ENG3 from the rock. ENG1 determined that an attempt to dislodge ENG3 would be unsuccessful. ENG1 then drove southwest and established an anchor point at the lava blister, approximately 200 yards from ENG3. ENG1 resumed mobile attack working back towards the disabled engine.

Between 1220 and 1225, wind direction changed from west to south. Fire behavior increasedand the fire made a rapid run toward the disabled engine. The FMO and AFMO made verbal contact with the two individuals on ENG3. The FMO and FF1 retreated to a safety zone in the black on top of the lava blister approximately 25 yards east of the disabled engine. The AFMO urged FF2, still by ENG3, to immediately retreat toward him into the safety zone. FF2 delayed until he felt excessive heat from the fire, closed the nozzle, and retreated to the safety zone.

At 1227, ENG3 was engulfed by the fire and completely destroyed…”

Richfield fire, engine burnover

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Three preliminary accident reports

The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center has published preliminary reports for three recent accidents — two burnovers and one very serious snag incident. Below are the summaries of the three accidents. It usually takes many months for the final, complete reports to be written and released.

Snag accident on the Freezeout Ridge Fire, Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho, one injury, September 21, 2014:

Firefighters from the Winema Hotshot crew were working on the Northeast edge of the Freezeout Ridge Fire when a snag fell and struck a Firefighter. The individual was knocked unconscious and it was determined by personnel on scene that life flight medical attention was needed. The individual was treated on scene by crew members, then transported via helicopter, long lined to a heli-spot where he was treated by a paramedic and transported to a hospital in Boise. He is being treated for severe head injuries including a skull fracture, broken jaw, lacerations to the face and head, two broken arms, dislocated thumb, and minor burns.

A Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) team has convened and began to assess the incident.

Because a decision was made to deviate from aviation policy in order to potentially save the life of the injured firefighter, a SAFECOM was filed. That aspect of the incident is covered at Fire Aviation.

Entrapment on the King Fire in northern California, no serious injuries, September 15, 2014:

We wrote about this entrapment live as it was developing.

Below is the information from CAL FIRE’s preliminary report:

SYNOPSIS:
The following information is a preliminary summary report referencing a Heavy Fire Equipment Operator , a Fire Captain B and CAL FIRE inmate fire crewmembers involved in a burnover during a wildland fire incident. There were no serious injuries suffered by CAL FIRE personnel or inmate crewmembers. The extent of the damage to the CAL FIRE bulldozer is unknown at the time of this report.

NARRATIVE:
On September 15, 2014, a CAL FIRE Fire Captain (FCB-1), with inmate fire crewmembers (CRW-1), and a CAL FIRE Heavy Fire Equipment Operator (HFEO-1) were assigned to Division K (DIV K) on the King Incident in El Dorado County. CRW-1 and HFEO-1 were working on the northeast side of the King Incident. The reported assignment was to go direct and contain a slop over on a mid-slope road. At approximately 1245 hours, FCB-1 observed an increase in the fire behavior, and determined to cancel the assignment. FCB-1 notified HFEO-1 and with the inmate crewmembers took refuge at a deployment site. HFEO-1 was forced to leave the bulldozer by foot and took refuge at the deployment site with FCB-1 and CRW-1. The personnel deployed their fire shelters. Air support was requested, accountability maintained and their location was communicated. The personnel were evacuated by helicopter and transported to the helibase. They were evaluated by paramedics and returned to the Incident Base later the same day. There were no serious injuries suffered in this incident.

Entrapment on the Black Fire in California’s Mendocino County, September 13, 2014, two minor injuries, three engines damaged:

The Willits News has a photo of one of the engines that burned.

Below is the summary from the CAL FIRE preliminary report:

SYNOPSIS
On Saturday September 13, 2014, at approximately 1625 hours, a rapidly moving wildland fire burned over two local agency Type III engines and one CAL FIRE utility vehicle; destroying one of the two engines and the utility. The second engine sustained significant heat damage. Two local agency fire personnel suffered minor injuries, and were treated and released at a local medical facility. During the same fire run, firefighters on a CAL FIRE engine having to take refuge in a structure. The CAL FIRE engine sustained minor damage. The engine operator suffered minor injuries and was treated and released at a local medical facility.

NARRATIVE
On Saturday September 13, 2014, the BLACK fire was approximately 50 acres and actively burning with spotting at ¼ mile. The fuel type was primarily oak woodland intermixed with grasslands and areas of chamise. Two local government Type III engines were operating at a structure (Structure 1) along a ridge with the Division Group Supervisor (DIV C) in a utility. At the same time, a CAL FIRE engine had staged next to a separate structure (Structure 2) approximately 100 yards to the south along the same ridge within DIV C.

At approximately 1625 hours, the fire made a rapid, upslope run through a large area of chamise and manzanita located below the road that accessed the structures. All of the structures along the ridge were threatened. Structure 1 ignited and the residential propane tank began to vent. DIV C determined personnel couldn’t safely take refuge in the structure or the fire apparatus. Ultimately it was determined the apparatus couldn’t be moved quickly enough to ensure a safe exit and all personnel at the structure exited the area on foot to a Temporary Refuge Area.

During this increased fire activity a CAL FIRE engine crew took refuge in Structure 2. When the fire front passed, all personnel exited the structure and drove from the fire area. There was minor damage to the state engine.

 

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Satellite photo of wildfires in Northern Idaho and northwest Montana

Satellite photo of fires in N ID and NW MT 9-25-2014

Satellite photo showing fires in northern Idaho and northwest Montana, September 25, 2014. NASA. (click to enlarge)

This satellite photo from mid-day on Thursday shows wildfires in northern Idaho and northwest Montana. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite.

Smoke appears to be trapped in some drainages in Idaho, which was probably produced by the 8,500-acre Johnson Bar Fire and the 8,000-acre Selway Complex of fires. The fire across the state line near Thompson Falls, Montana, north of the smoky drainage in Idaho, is not showing up on the InciWeb maps.

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Hotshot seriously injured on Freezeout Ridge Fire

Freezeout Ridge Fire

Freezeout Ridge Fire, September 15, 2014. InciWeb photo.

KTVZ is reporting that a 51-year old member of the Winema Interagency Hotshot Crew was seriously injured by a falling snag while working on the 3,558-acre Freezeout Ridge Fire in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in western Idaho.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

…Richard (Wally) Ochoa Jr., 51, a member of the Winema Interagency Hotshot Crew, suffered a fractured skull, two broken arms, a broken jaw, a broken thumb and numerous cuts when he was struck by a snag while brushing fire line on the Freezeout Ridge Fire.

Fortunately, “no significant spine injury occurred,” the Monday evening announcement stated.

Winema IHC crew members and other nearby fire personnel began immediate first aid while others worked to clear an area for a helicopter to take Ochoa to a hospital in Boise. Officials said he was in stable condition in the intensive care unit late Monday, with family and several crew members on hand.

John Kidd, incident commander for the Freezeout Ridge Fire, credited those on scene for their swift actions and reliance on emergency response training and medical evacuation protocols.

“I, along with the members of my staff, am grateful for those who assisted Mr. Ochoa by providing timely and appropriate care,” Kidd said.”The coordination and professional actions of our firefighters, both on the ground and flying overhead, very likely reduced the potential magnitude of his injuries.”

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Steve.

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Wildfire briefing, June 13, 2014

(Originally published at 9:19 a.m. CT, June 13, 2014)

House teetering on cliff to be prescribed burned

House above lake

NBCDFW photo.

A house at the top of a cliff over Lake Whitney in Texas will be burned intentionally Friday morning. The cliff below part of the house has fallen away, leaving the house precariously teetering. The house will be burned, which is considered a better option than allowing it to fall into the lake where the debris would have to be removed.

A crew is prepping the house by breaking out windows and adding bales of hay soaked in diesel fuel to the interior.

The prescribed fire is being covered live by a television station in Texas.

(UPDATE at 10:15 a.m. CT, June 13, 2014)

Ignition has begun. Firefighters are on scene applying water between the burning home and a nearby house, perhaps to minimize damage to a couple of trees.

House above lake burning

(UPDATE at 11:36 a.m. CT, June 13, 2014)

It’s pretty much over:

House above lake burning House above lake burning

The photos are from NBCDFW.

Funeral services for Nevada firefighter

The funeral services for Donovan Artie Garcia Jr. will be held today, Friday, June 13. Mr. Garcia, the Assistant Chief of the Hungry Valley, Nevada fire department, died of a heart attack while participating in wildland fire training June 5. Services will be in Reno at 11 a.m. at the Hungry Valley Gymnasium, 9070 Eagle Canyon Drive.

MD-87 air tanker makes first drops

Erickson Aero Tanker’s two MD-87 air tankers, T-101 and T-105, made numerous drops on the Two Bulls Fire near Bend, Oregon shortly after they became certified and reported for duty. Wallowa.com has an article in which they quote pilot Brent Conner:

“I mean, I always wanted to be flying propeller planes, so this is new for me, and for most of us in this business,” he said.

“We can hold it in check, as we did with this fire, for about two days with retardant,” he said. “That gave them enough time to get the other flank taken care of.”

While it’s a job he’s done countless times before, it was Conner’s first weekend in real wildfire action with the Aero Tanker.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, actually,” he said. “We hadn’t been on a fire yet, the fire’s only 15 miles away. We barely had time to get the airplane cleaned up and we were already putting the flaps down, slowing down and getting ready to go.”

More information about the MD-87s is at Fire Aviation.

Reward for information about Two Bulls Fire

And speaking of the Two Bulls Fire at Bend, Oregon, the reward for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible for setting the 6,908-acre fire has increased to $31,500. Anyone with information that could help identify suspects in the fire is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-877-876-8477 (TIPS).

Hot pink may be the new color of fire retardant

The Missoula Technology Development Center is testing new colors for the fire retardant that is dropped by air tankers and helicopters. Below are excerpts from KPAX:

Over the last three years, some pilots have been complaining that the bright orange retardant is hard to see. “Particularly in late season when we’ve got grasses and trees that start turning color,” said Zylstra. With that concern, researchers at the US Forest Service’s Technology and Development Center in Missoula began looking into a solution, potentially a hot pink colored slurry. “So we run a product through a variety of different tests in our lab before it’s used out in the field,” said Zylstra.

[...]

The first batch of the hot pink slurry will be tested at four air tanker bases in California in regions predicted to have busy firefighting season.

Helitack crews train in Idaho

MagicValley.com has an article about U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management helitack crews training for the upcoming wildfire season.

Austin, Texas to get wildfire detection system

The Austin City Council voted to purchase a system of sensors mounted on towers that can detect smoke. The approval will allow the installation of two towers which will be tested for a year. At the end of the year they may decide to expand the system. In 2013, West Lake Hills, a community near Austin, also approved the acquisition of a similar system. It can detect smoke within 6 miles by rotating their sensors, completing a 360-degree rotation every 8 to 12 minutes, during which it takes images, analyzes, and then transmits those images for secondary analysis. If possible fire events are detected, the system alerts fire authorities.

Hotshots assist with prescribed fire on military base

The Laguna Hot Shots, based at Descanso, California, helped conduct a prescribed fire at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Thursday north of San Diego. Below is an excerpt from an article at 10News:

As a formation of Marine FA/18’s passed overhead to land at MCAS Miramar, members of the Laguna Hotshot crew were setting fire to the east side of the base.

The prescribed burn, as it’s called, is part of an annual brush management system put in place after the 2003 wildfire.

“After it burned more than 17,000 acres, the Cedar Fire really opened our eyes to a strong brush management program at the air station,” said Miramar Fire Operations Chief Paul Thompkins.

Construction begins on firefighter memorial in Prescott

Construction has started on a memorial in a cemetery in Prescott, Arizona for the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that were killed while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013.

Below is an excerpt from KJZZ.org:

Construction is starting on a cemetery memorial for 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill wildfire, nearly a year after the fire started near Prescott. Each firefighter will have a plot and a bronze grave marker at the state-owned Pioneers’ Home Cemetery in Prescott. The plots are surrounded by a two-foot wall where mourners can sit.

Officials say 10 of the Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters are already buried there. They say there’s room for family members to be buried alongside them.

The state designated a new section of the cemetery for the hotshots and charged $100 per grave site, instead of the usual $900.

 

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