Sky lanterns possible cause of fires that burned 4 homes and a boat dock

Sky lantern
Sky lantern release in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Takeaway.

Sky lanterns are being looked at as the possible cause for at least two fires over the Fourth of July holiday, one in New York and another in Michigan.

Investigators are considering sky lanterns as a possible cause for a fire that spread to four homes in Highland Park, Michigan Tuesday morning.

And in Yates County, New York, Sheriff Ron Spike, thinks a sky lantern caused a fire that burned a portion of a boat dock on Keuka Lake July 4. Boaters on the lake notified residents who were able to suppress the fire by dumping lake water onto it.

Below is an excerpt from an article at the Chronicle Express:

…Investigation by deputies and the fire chief concluded that based on debris at the scene that a sky lantern someone had launched to celebrate July 4 had landed on the dock, causing the fire. Spike says the property owner is William Goulburn, of Rochester, and the damage is over $1,000…

Sky lanterns are made with plastic or lightweight paper and are lifted into the air when burning material is ignited at the base making it lighter than air. They can travel for more than a mile, whichever way the wind blows. Sometimes the fuel is still burning when the device contacts a structure, a tree, or lands on the ground. Usually they are not retrieved and become someone else’s trash.

The dangerous devices are banned in 29 states and many counties and cities.

Military training starts fire in northern Michigan

Pyrotechnics used by the military during training in northern Michigan (map) started a fire that burned about 700 acres Saturday, according to military officials on the scene.

Below is an excerpt from 9&10News:

…The fire tore through parts of Camp Grayling  in Crawford County around 2:00 yesterday afternoon and burned an area North of Kyle Lake Road.

New information now suggests that a Marine infantry battalion training on site employed pyrotechnics and signal flares and inadvertently started the fire.

A senior Camp Grayling official tells Northern Michigan’s News Leader that, after realizing the fire was too large to effectively extinguish, crews made the decision to keep the flames contained to a well-defined area–and then treated it as an unscheduled controlled burn, making ‘the best of a bad situation’.

Two Michigan firefighters injured by falling tree

Two firefighters were injured April 18, one seriously, by a falling tree while working on a wildfire near Chesaning, Michigan (map). Kevin Carlton, Assistant Chief of the Chesaning Fire Department, said the firefighters were working to put out flames in a hollow tree. While they were using a chain saw the tree suddenly fell, striking the two men.

Fire Chief Scott Hall received minor injuries and is recovering at home. Firefighter Ryan McPherson is recovering from serious injuries. A gofundme account has been set up for Mr. McPherson where the following information is provided:

[He was] flown to Henry Ford Hospital for extensive surgery and recovery. He is expected to be in the hospital for several weeks followed by many months of recovery and physical therapy. Please help out our local Firefighters, any and all help is appreciated.

Smokey Bear snow sculpture

Smokey Bear snow sculpture

Employees of the Huron-Manistee National Forest in Michigan teamed up with employees of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to make a Smokey Bear ice sculpture for the 2015 North American Snowmobile Festival in Cadillac. U.S. Forest Service photo.

And speaking of Smokey, here is a classic poster from the 1990s.

Smokey Bear poster 1990s

Wildfire briefing, April 9, 2014

MAFFS training in California

The California Channel Islands Air National Guard Station at Port Hueneme is conducting annual refresher and certification training this week for their crews that staff the C-130 aircraft used as air tankers when outfitted with the transportable Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS).

The Wyoming and North Carolina National Guard MAFFS units will train in Cheyenne, Wyoming beginning April 28, while the Colorado Springs Air Force Reserve unit will hold their training the week of May 16.

The four military units that host MAFFS crews have a total of eight C-130 aircraft that can be activated when what remains of the federal air tanker fleet is committed to going fires or initial attack.

Michigan man dies of injuries suffered while burning brush

A 70-year old man died after he was badly burned in a brush fire near Hart, Michigan on Monday, April 8. From mlive.com:

Roger D. Kludy, 70, died at the hospital, according to Oceana County Sheriff’s Lt. Craig Mast. There was little information known about the incident early Tuesday morning, Mast said. But authorities believe Kludy was burning brush on Adams Road Monday afternoon when something went awry and Kludy suffered severe burns. Michigan State Police is handling the investigation, Mast said.

South Carolina brush fire burns or damages 13 structures

A brush fire near Greer, South Carolina that started from a lit cigarette, caused damage estimated at $1.8 million on Wednesday, April 2. The fire destroyed three units in a condominium and a single family dwelling. Nine other structures were damaged.

Training residents to spot wildfires

“Woods Watch” training is being offered Friday to residents in Flagstaff, Arizona. According to the AP, in the one-hour course participants will learn how to properly report incidents that could start wildfires, such as people sneaking into closed areas and disregarding fire restrictions.

Incident Management Teams meet in Cheyenne

Incident Management Teams from the Rocky Mountain Region are holding their annual meeting in Cheyenne, Wyoming this week to review standard operating procedures, discuss new policies, and get to know each other before the wildland fire season begins. About 250 team members will attend from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Wildfire briefing, May 5, 2013

Michigan woman found dead in wildfire

From the Milan News-Leader in Milan, Michigan:

The 76-year-old London Township woman found dead Wednesday afternoon from a fire in a wooded area was trying to get away when she was trapped by a fence. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has identified her as Anna Eliva Pinto, a resident of 10460 Darling Road. Investigators believe she was burning brush when the fire grew out of control and she was unable to escape it.

Firefighters worked several hours to extinguish the fire that affected an area of 5-7 acres. Milan Fire Chief Robert Stevens said fire suppression efforts were well underway when a Milan firefighter found the deceased woman by a 6-foot fence that separates properties in the eastern side of the area.

Chief Deputy John Plath with the sheriff’s office said investigators believe Pinto was trying to walk or run to the east and was stopped by the fence. She was overcome by smoke and flames, he said. She suffered some burns but the cause of death has not yet been determined, he said. He said it is possible smoke inhalation or other medical issues could have contributed to her death.

Animation of satellite images of smoke from the Springs Fire northwest of Los Angeles

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies put together an animation using still images from a GOES weather satellite which shows the evolution of smoke from the Springs Fire which has burned about 28,000 acres. Check it out at this Discover Magazine web site… then scroll down until you see the “Click to Play” video.

More information about the Springs Fire at Wildfire Today.

Springs Fire narrated slide show

A narrated slide show of photographs of the Springs Fire is very much worth two minutes of your time.  It features photos taken by Los Angeles Times photographers.