These photos are samples of those being uploaded by incident management teams to InciWeb over the last few weeks. If no date or photographer’s credit is listed, it means they were not provided on InciWeb.
The above map shows precipitation during the seven days preceding September 5, 2015. Some areas in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon received over an inch.
The map below is the observed precipitation today, September 5, 2015. This rainfall over the last week, and in some cases snow, probably will not put out the large fires, but will certainly slow them down.
Snow slows fire in Idaho
The National Weather Service in Pocatello, Idaho reports that Friday morning snow fell at the Elevenmile Fire between Bonanza and Challis.
Due to a forecast that included rain and snow, firefighters were removed from high elevation spike camps on the fire Thursday.
The lightning-caused fire discovered on August 24 has burned over 10,300 acres.
Cyclist who started fire by burning his toilet paper may be on the hook for large dollars
The bicyclist who accidentally started a fire near Boise on July 22 by burning his soiled toilet paper may have to pay a fine as well as a portion of the suppression costs. The Idaho Statesman reported that BLM spokesperson Carrie Bilbao said the costs are likely to be between $50,000 and $75,000 which includes the use of four air tankers and three helicopters. The fire was stopped before it approached homes after burning 73 acres.
Scooping air tankers drop 182,000 gallons on a fire in Montana
Below are excerpts from an article at KPAX about firefighting aircraft working out of Helena, Montana this summer:
“In an average year we have 15 to 20 aircraft that come through in a season,” says Helena National Forest public affairs officer Kathy Bushnell. “So far this year, we’ve had 20-plus different aircraft come through.”
Thanks to its location, aircraft staged here can reach many parts of central Montana quickly. The Aviation Center serves multiple aircraft.
“Helicopters, we have air tankers, single-engine air tankers, heavy air tankers that’ll come in depending on what is ordered for the fires,” Bushnell said.
This week, firefighters are also getting an assist from visitors from Canada, CL-415 water bombers.
“We requested some additional aircraft to come out to help us with the fires here in Montana, Idaho, and Washington,” said Bushnell.
The bomber scoops water from lakes into huge tanks – 1,600 gallons in 12 seconds.
The water bombers arrived in town Monday. On Tuesday, they were hard at work on the Bray Fire burning north of Holter Lake.
“They worked about six flight hours,” according to Bushnell. “They were able to do 112 loads which equates to about 182,000 gallons of water that was used on the fire.”
Health warning in California due to wildfire smoke
The Rough Fire east of Fresno, California has prompted the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to issue a health warning to people headed to the mountains and foothills of Tulare and Fresno counties this weekend.
The district says children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.
Black Hills National Forest firefighter and crewboss trainee, Josh Walk took this photo of his crew of firefighters from Box Elder Job Corps and Rapid City Fire Department, working the Buckhorn Saddle Fire on the Bitterroot National Forest [in Montana]. A typical crew rotation lasts 14 days, but can be expanded to 21 days. Hourly shift assignments vary, but firefighters typically work 10 to 16 hour days. Keep up the great work folks!
(From the Facebook page for the Black Hills National Forest, which is in southwest South Dakota.)
Significant quantities of rain have slowed some of the fires in northwest Montana. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Daily Interlake:
Substantial rainfall — at least by parched Northwest Montana standards — has dampened area wildfire activity. The changing weather and slowing fire activity have allowed evacuation orders to be lifted in the Essex, Noxon and Libby areas.
On the 6,810-acre Northeast Kootenai Complex, which is almost entirely composed of the 6,700-acre Marston Fire east of Fortine, opportunistic firefighters were leaping at the chance to corral the blaze. Fire spokesman Tom Rhode said firefighters were drawing a line in the dirt while they could. “It wasn’t very active yesterday,” he said Monday. “The west side has line on it, that’s the 15 percent containment, about nine miles. Crews are now working around the south and north sides of the fire. It comes creeping down to our lines, but we stop it. It hasn’t moved.”
The Northeast Kootenai Complex received a tenth of an inch of precipitation. More rain — .67 inches — fell on the massive fires burning in the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest. Ema Braunberger, Flathead National Forest fire information officer, said the effect of the “deluge” was a welcome one.
“We got a lot of rain and it really slowed things down here,” she said. “We’re in hazard tree removal and are creating that shaded fuel break along the road. It’s kind of nice, like a little park area.”
The Sheep Fire, burning near the BNSF railroad tracks just south of Essex, Montana, has caused the intermittent closure of the tracks to Amtrak and BNSF trains. Since it is in the best interests of the railroad and the firefighters to suppress the fire as quickly as possible, BNSF is cooperating in various ways, including transporting fire personnel in a caboose car and using a crane and flat cars to remove slash from a shaded fuel break being constructed by feller-bunchers.
The Sheep Fire, part of the Thompson-Divide Complex, has burned about 2,100 acres on the Flathead National Forest.
Below is a video showing the feller-bunchers in action, and after that is a slide show of photos taken by Jonathan Moor of the Information organization on the fire. Mr. Moor also shot the video.