Wildfire briefing, September 6, 2013

Scientists expect fire risk in the U.S. to escalate by the end of the century

Map elevated wildfire risk, climate changeHot and dry conditions lead to more fires. Those were the findings presented in 2012 by a team of researchers that used NASA satellite data and climate models to predict fire activity in the United States. Now, a new animation shows how dry conditions will cause different parts of the U.S., Canada and Mexico to experience an increased risk of fire by the end of the century. By mapping projected values for a measure of dryness known as the potential evaporation—a calculation that’s based on temperature, rainfall and wind speed estimates—scientists are able to interpret how fire activity will be influenced by future climates. Changes in dryness relative to 1980 levels are shown in the animation using colors, where reds represent an increase in dryness and blues represent a decrease. Watch the video to see how dry conditions are expected to spread across North America by the year 2100.

Another firefighter fatality in Portugal

A seventh firefighter in a month passed away in a hospital in Portugal after suffering burn injuries on a wildland fire last week.

MAFFS demobilized

Five military Modular Airborne FireFighting System C-130 air tankers were released  from fire suppression duty yesterday. Since the year’s initial activation June 11, MAFFS crews have flown 572 missions and made 535 drops using 1,375,981 gallons of fire retardant. That works out to 2,406 gallons per mission.

Granite Mountain Hotshots memorial items to be removed

Soon after 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, mourners began placing memorial items on the fence surrounding their compound at the Prescott Fire Department. Now over two months later the city decided they have to do something with the hundreds of objects which include T-shirts, photos, posters, and other items. The City announced Thursday that the Fire Department and area volunteers would begin to remove them on Sept. 10.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Daily Courier:

Now, officials say, it is time to begin packing away the items for preservation, and possible inclusion in a more permanent memorial in the future.

“Items that are able to be preserved will be temporarily stored until plans are finalized for the future permanent memorial,” the city’s new release stated.

City officials have noted that the outdoor elements have taken a toll on many of the items. Flowers, cardboard signs, and other perishable items were earlier removed. Many of the T-shirts from fire departments around the country have faded from dark-blue to gray.

 

MAFFS air tankers assist crew in trouble

A TV station in Sacramento, California has a story about Military MAFFS C-130 air tankers making some retardant drops to assist a hand crew that was in a difficult situation on the RIM fire recently.

I am intrigued by the “common operating picture” that was mentioned by the national guard gentleman.

Our main article about the Rim Fire at Yosemite National Park is updated daily with maps and current information.

Idaho: multiple fires east of Boise

(UPDATE at 10:50 a.m. MDT, August 19, 2013)

Map of Beaver Creek fire
Map of Beaver Creek Fire at 1 a.m. MDT, August 19, 2013

The Beaver Creek fire has not spread as much in the last two days as it did last week. This is due in part to the fire hitting the footprint of the 2007 Castle Rock Fire west of Ketchum, which can be seen on the map below posted on August 17.

The interior of the fire was active Sunday and there was some fire growth on the north and south ends of the fire. Red Flag conditions, including higher temperatures and wind gusts to 38 miles per hour, increased fire activity on the Beaver Creek Fire Sunday afternoon and evening. 1,150 firefighters working with 10 helicopters and 8 bulldozers expanded fire lines while large unburned areas within the fire lines and along the north and south edges of the fire sent columns of smoke 15,000 feet into the air. The fire is now 104,457 acres in size

The fire area is under a Fire Weather Watch on Monday.

Beaver Creek Fire
Beaver Creek Fire, old school and new school. InciWeb photo.

****

(UPDATE at 1:33 p.m. MDT, August 17, 2013)

Map of Beaver Creek fire at 2 am MDT, August 17, 2013
Map of Beaver Creek fire at 2 a.m. MDT, August 17, 2013 (click to enlarge)

Extreme fire behavior occurred on the Beaver Creek Fire again on Friday, prompting additional evacuations, preevacuation warnings and the ordering of additional resources. The fire was active in the Greenhorn Gulch, Deer Creek, Dollarhide, and Baker Creek areas. The Baker Creek head of the fire produced a massive pyrocumulous column, while fire whirls, torching trees, and crown fire were visible from Hailey and the Highway 75 corridor leading to Ketchum.

At least one home, a bunkhouse and five other structures have been destroyed. However, the exact number of structures destroyed or damaged on August 15 is unknown. At least one primary residence was destroyed and there was damage to several others. The bridge on FS road 227 which connects Ketchum and Fairfield was destroyed. The loss of multiple outbuildings is certain. One Remote Automatic Weather Station (RAWS) was also destroyed.

 

Continue reading “Idaho: multiple fires east of Boise”

Wildfire briefing, July 12, 2013

Congressional hearing about Wildfire and Forest Management

On Thursday the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing about wildland fire and forest management. You can watch a 2 hour and 15 minute video of it at C-SPAN. (Are there any volunteers who would like to watch it and give us a summary?)

Here is how it is described at C-SPAN:

“Wildfire and Forest Service officials testified on ways to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The hearing also focused on the increasing number and intensity of wildfires in the West and Southwest.

Representatives Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) testified in the first panel.

Panel Two:

  • Jim Hubbard, Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • James Douglas, Acting Director, office of Wildland Fire, Senior Adviser, Public Safety, Resource Protection and Emergency Services, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Phil Rigdon, Deputy Director, Yakama Indian Nation Department of Natural Resources
  • Joe Duda, Deputy State Forester, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado State University
  • Christopher Topik, Director, Restoring America’s Forestsm, North America Region
  • Chuck Roady, Vice President & General Manager, F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company”

NIFC lowers Preparedness Level

The National Interagency Fire Center has lowered the national Preparedness Level from 3 to 2.

MAFFS sent home

By the end of the day the U.S. Forest Service will release the four Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) C-130 air tankers being operated by the military. The last four remaining are from California and North Carolina.

Map of Chariot Fire

CAL FIRE, the agency responsible for suppressing the devastating wildfire that spread from the desert to the mountain community of Mt. Laguna east of San Diego, still has not released a current map of the fire showing that it burned significant acreage in the Cleveland National Forest and wiped out much of the Al Bahr Shrine Camp. Their last map is dated July 8. Approximately 149 structures were destroyed and 9 were damaged.

Smoke Map

Wildfire smoke map
Wildfire smoke map at 4:30 p.m. MDT July 12, 2013

The map below shows the distribution of smoke from fires in the United States and Canada as of 4:40 p.m. MDT, July 12, 2013.

Memorial dedicated for the crew members that died on MAFFS 7

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

A memorial site was dedicated today to honor the four people that died when the Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) C-130 air tanker crashed in South Dakota exactly a year ago. MAFFS 7, from the 145 Airlift Wing in North Carolina, was dropping retardant to slow the spread of the White Draw Fire when it encountered turbulent air and crashed, killing Lt. Col Paul K. Mikeal, 42; Maj. Joseph M. McCormick, 36; Maj. Ryan S. David, 35, and Senior Master Sgt. Roberts S. Cannon, 50. Two crew members survived, Chief Master Sgt. Andy Huneycutt, and Master Sgt. Joshua Marlowe.

Family members had the opportunity Sunday to travel to the crash site about eight miles northeast of Edgemont, South Dakota. The new memorial is approximately 6 miles northeast of Edgemont on Highway 18 near the point of origin of the fire (map) where the motor home that started the blaze caught fire while pulling the grade between Edgemont and Hot Springs. The memorial consists of a gravel parking area with room for about six vehicles and it has two interpretive panels — one describing the White Draw Fire and the other covers the accident and the four victims.

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication
The speakers at the dedication included: (left to right) Lt. Governor Matt Michels (at the podium); Lt. Col Dale Gadbois; Craig Bobzien, Forest Supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest; Jajor General Timothy Reisch, S.D. Adjutant General; Major General Gregory Lusk, N.C. Adjutant General, and Mike Ortner, Chairman, Fall River County Commission.
MAFFS 7 memorial dedication
The family members were sitting in the front row and received copies of proclamations and other items.
MAFFS 7 memorial dedication
At the beginning and end of his presentation, Lt. Governor Matt Michels turned around and saluted in the direction of the crash site.

MAFFS 7 memorial dedication

Continue reading “Memorial dedicated for the crew members that died on MAFFS 7”

A surreal view of an air tanker shadow while dropping

MAFFS 4 drops on Papoose Fire, June 25, 2013
MAFFS 4 drops on Papoose Fire, June 25, 2013

The image above is a screen capture from a video of a C-130 Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) air tanker dropping on the Papoose Fire in Colorado this week. The drop was mostly complete at this moment — the shadow of the aircraft and the retardant is surreal. I wonder if it threw off or confused the pilots.

The video is at Fire Aviation.