Tonight’s sunset picture, June 25, 2015

wind cave national park sunset

Sunset over the two month old Cold Brook prescribed fire in Wind Cave National Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert, June 25, 2015. (click to enlarge)

Tonight’s sunset picture was taken June 25 in Wind Cave National Park within the April 15 Cold Brook prescribed fire. With the copious rain over the last couple of months the area is aggressively green.

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How prior fuel treatments affected the San Juan Fire

San Juan Fire severity

Map of the San Juan Fire “Rapid Assessment of Vegetation Condition after Wildfire”. The fire started at the south end near “San Juan Flat and eventually burned into many treated areas, represented by cross-hatching, where the fire intensity and rate of spread decreased.

The U.S. Forest Service has put together information about how previous fuel treatments modified fire behavior on the San Juan Fire on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona in June of 2014. Below is an excerpt from a report, and below that is a video in which subject matter experts describe the effects of the treatments.

Generally speaking, the fuel treatments encountered by the San Juan Fire were effective at modifying fire behavior. Furthermore, these fuel treatment areas proved to be instrumental in providing fire managers with opportunities to contain the fire in a safe and effective manner while simultaneously limiting the fire’s potential negative effects on natural resources, the surrounding communities and their infrastructure.

Fire behavior observed by firefighters at the scene—as well as estimates of fire severity taken after the fire confirm that the treated areas performed as designed by not supporting sustained crown fire even under extreme burning conditions.

As the San Juan Fire transitioned from untreated mixed conifer to treated ponderosa pine, fire behavior also transitioned from intermittent and sustained high-intensity crown fire in the untreated stands to a low-moderate intensity surface fire in the treated stands.

Thus, firefighters were able to utilize the road system within the treated stands to implement their burnouts. These burnout operations limited the forward progress at the head of the fire the day after the fire started.

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Igniting a prescribed fire from a horse

I have seen horses used on wildfires as a means of transportation for Division Supervisors and for hauling supplies, but never have I seen a firefighter igniting a fire while riding a horse.

An article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal had the above photo with this caption:

Danny Mills, a land management specialist with the St. Johns River Water Management District, starts a prescribed burn in Volusia County earlier in the year. Mills and his wife Ruby, Volusia County residents, train horses to work fires. Photo/ St. Johns River Water Management District.

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Comparison photos, 6 days and 39 days after escaped prescribed fire

Cold Brook Fire

Highway 385, which can be seen in the distance, was supposed to be the boundary of the prescribed fire. Only the land on the far side of the highway was planned to burn.

Wind Cave prescribed fire

These photos were taken by Bill Gabbert in the area burned when the April 13 Cold Brook prescribed fire escaped in Wind Cave National Park. In each pair of pictures, the first was taken on April 19, 6 days after the fire, and the next was taken on May 22, 39 days after the fire.

Cold Brook Fire

Looking east from the planned burn area to Highway 385 which did not serve as an adequate fire line under the conditions that day.

Wind Cave prescribed fire

Cold Brook Fire

Wind Cave prescribed fire

Cold Brook Fire

The north end of the fire, east of Highway 385.

Wind Cave prescribed fire

Related articles on Wildfire Today:

Cold Brook prescribed fire escapes in South Dakota
Wind Cave National Park bounces back from escaped prescribed fire

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Wind Cave National Park bounces back from escaped prescribed fire

With copious rain over the last five weeks since the Cold Brook prescribed fire escaped control in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota on April 13, the additional 5,000 acres outside the planned burn unit is in serious green-up. Most of the “bonus acres” had been treated at least once with previous prescribed fires, so there was not a heavy build up of fuel within the timbered areas. The escape, even though it was pushed by a strong wind, did not have high mortality in the Ponderosa pines. Most of the areas we saw near U.S. Highway 385 look like a typical prescribed fire in the park, however there were a few patches of pine that were taken out.

All of the photos below were taken by Bill Gabbert on May 22, 2015, 39 days after the fire. Click on the photos to see larger versions.

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

The bison are enjoying the nutrient-rich fresh green grass in the burned area. The one in the foreground is wallowing in dirt.

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

The lower branches on these Ponderosa pines had been burned off in a prescribed fire about 15 years ago, so they were virtually unscathed this time.

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

One objective of most of the prescribed fires in the Park is to remove some of the pine reproduction that is encroaching into the prairie. The brown seedlings here indicate some success in that regard.

Wind Cave National Park prescribed fire

Related articles:

Cold Brook prescribed fire escapes in South Dakota
Comparison photos, 6 days and 39 days after escaped prescribed fire

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