Report: Fuel treatments made two Arizona fires more controlable

Burnout on the Slide Fire

Burnout operation on the Slide Fire. InciWeb photo.

Forest treatments to reduce hazardous fuels made it easier to contain two wildfires in Arizona this year, according to Wally Covington, the director of the Ecological Restoration Institute, and a Regents’ professor of forest ecology at Northern Arizona University. In an op-ed at LiveScience, Mr. Covington said the fires had the conditions, and the chance, to burn hundreds of houses and destroy some of the state’s most coveted recreational tourist attractions, but they didn’t.

He is referring to the 21,000-acre Slide Fire and the 7,000-acre San Juan Fire which started in May and June, respectively. While they still grew into large fires, Mr. Covington said they could have become very damaging megafires, if not for the fuel treatments previously conducted on the Apache-Sitgreaves and Coconino National Forests.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

…The San Juan fire also provided lessons about how treated areas did what they were designed to do: slow a fire’s advance and restore a forest’s natural ability to self-regulate. How a wildfire behaves when it reaches a treatment area is a good test of how those treatments work. Fire crews and incident management teams reported that when the fire burned into areas that had been thinned, it burned with low severity and on the ground, not in treetops. The dry, frequent-fire forests of the West evolved with this type of fire, a slow-moving, low severity surface fire that would remove young trees and revitalize understory grasses and forbs. Anecdotal evidence from the San Juan Fire also suggests that the previously treated areas allowed fire crews to safely conduct burnout operations, thus enabling them to manage and control the fire.

Share

Video: Prescribed Burning in Northern California

This video provides a great deal of information about the use of prescribed fire in northern California. It is well done, with high production values.

The description on YouTube:

Catching Fire tells a compelling story of how a small but committed group of local, tribal, state and federal land managers are bringing back the use of prescribed fire as a tool to protect communities and ecosystems across Northern California. It examines the use of fire by the Karuk Tribe of California, and the connection between the rise of megafires across the West and the last century of fire suppression. Drawing on interviews with
fire scientists, tribal and federal land managers, and fire savvy residents from across the North State, this film provides insight on how our relationship to fire can be restored through strategic use of fire as a powerful management tool.

Produced By: Will Harling and Jenny Staats, Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council,
Klamath-Salmon Media Collaborative
Narrration By: Peter Coyote
Music By: Rex Richardson

Funding Provided By: a USDA Forest Service National Fire Plan grant through the California Fire Safe Council

Additional Funding Provided By: The Watershed Center, The Fire Learning Network, The US Endowment for Forestry and Communities

 
Thanks and a hat tip go out to John.

Share

Oklahoma: one person killed and six homes destroyed in wildfire

(UPDATED at 12:42 p.m. May 7, 2014)

The wildfire near Guthrie, Oklahoma burned approximately 3,250 acres. One
civilian fatality is attributed to this fire and an estimated 46 structures have been lost, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS). The fire has been turned back to local command with all containment lines holding through Tuesday’s weather conditions. OFS will have a Task Force with 3 dozers and 3 engines assisting with patrol and mop up on Wednesday.

****

(UPDATED at 11:57 a.m. CDT, May 6, 2014)

The wildfire near Guthrie, Oklahoma continued to be active on Monday due to strong winds and low relative humidity. The weather forecast for Tuesday is similar, predicting Red Flag conditions,  with 94 degrees, 23 percent relative humidity, and 24 mph winds gusting up to 33 mph. Tuesday morning the fire was reported to be 90 percent contained.

In the video below, Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow provides an update on the fire. It was recorded May 5, probably late in the day, and was uploaded to YouTube on May 6. 

Despite earlier reports provided by fire officials, investigators with the Oklahoma state Department of Agriculture and the state Fire Marshall’s Office have found no evidence the fire started as a controlled burn.

****

(UPDATED at 7:15 p.m. CT, May 5, 2014)

Map of fire near Guthrie, OK 250 pm CT May 5, 2014

Map of fire near Guthrie, OK, showing the approximate locations of heat detected by a satellite at 2:50 p.m. CT, May 5, 2014. The red and yellow dots represent the location of the heat.

The location of the fire is southeast of Guthrie, Oklahoma, 24 miles north of Oklahoma City, and east of Interstate 35 (map).

The local fire departments have not released information about the exact location of the origin of the fire, but they did say it started from a “controlled burn” — which could mean anything from a resident burning trash in their back yard, to a rancher burning a pasture. Google Earth did not show any indication that any federal land was in the area of the fire.

Fox23 in a Monday afternoon report said at least a dozen homes have burned and the estimated size of the fire is now 3,000 to 3,500 acres. National Guard Blackhawk helicopters worked the fire Monday.

From Fox23:

Gov. Mary Fallin visited the command post Monday, and said the US Forestry Services crews were creating fire lines and that she put in a request to get an air tanker flown to Guthrie from Arizona.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management three National Guard Blackhawk helicopters, two single engine air tankers (SEATs), and “a Tanker 415″ will be available Tuesday evening. The “Tanker 415″ could be Tanker 260, Aero-Flite’s CL-415 that was reported by Wildfire Today reader Tom Wilson (in a comment below) to be relocating from Florida to Oklahoma City on Monday. Fire Aviation had an article about Tanker 260 in November.

According to state law the Oklahoma Division of Forestry is the operational lead for wildfire emergencies.

The video below, uploaded to YouTube about 3 p.m. on Monday, has views of the fire from an aircraft.


****

(Originally published at 11:52 a.m. CT, May 5, 2015)

Fire officials said a controlled burn near Guthrie, Oklahoma escaped on Sunday and killed one person and destroyed at least six homes. Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow said the number of damaged homes was expected to rise after they are able to better assess the four to six square mile (2,560 to 3,840 acre) fire after sunrise on Monday. About 1,000 people evacuated on Sunday, but most of those have been able to return to their homes.

Chief Harlow said the 56-year old man who was killed had refused to evacuate when requested by his family and law enforcement.

On Sunday the fire was pushed by strong winds and dry conditions. The weather forecast for the Guthrie area on Monday calls for similar weather — 100 degrees, 17 to 20 mph southeast winds gusting to 28 mph, and single-digit relative humidities.

Early Monday morning Chief Harlow said:

We still have some hot spots but for the most part we do have control of this thing. I’m still going to say 75 percent containment. Three of the four sides are contained. The north side I’m not going to say is 100 percent contained yet.

He said the fire started from a controlled burn on one of two properties, but did not know exactly what the land owner had initially intended to burn.

They have requested helicopters from the National  Guard which would arrive at 11 a.m. at the earliest.

The video below is a recording of a live media briefing early Monday morning featuring Chief Harlow.

Share

Florida: prescribed fire escapes at St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge

Saint Johns National Wildlife Refuge, map

A prescribed fire escaped at a national wildlife refuge east of Orlando on Monday. The plan was to burn 660 acres within St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge, but multiple simultaneous spot fires outside the burn unit exceeded the capability of the firefighters from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge who were conducting the burn. An additional 72 acres of private land and 200 acres of Brevard County property outside the refuge burned — 600 acres in the original planned unit were completed.

The escape was knocked down by 43 personnel on Monday. Today spokesperson Candice Stevenson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the fire is 70 percent contained. Agencies involved in the suppression of the escaped fire included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Brevard County, Florida Forest Service, the City of Titusville, and the U.S. Forest Service.

 

Share

Custer State Park burns 560 acres

South Fork Prescribed Fire

Ignition begins at the South Fork Prescribed Fire, April 25, 2014. Photo by Andrew Tate.

Custer State Park, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, completed a 560-acre prescribed fire Friday afternoon near the buffalo corrals. The objective of the project was to improve grass habitat for buffalo and other wildlife and to enhance interagency cooperation and training for firefighters. Other agencies that assisted were South Dakota Wildland Fire, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, the National Park Service, and the Black Hills National Forest.  

I arrived at the scene at about 1:30 p.m. thinking that the most active fire activity would be in mid-afternoon, but they were just finishing the ignition as I pulled up. With good planning, an early start, and with roads on some sides for firelines, a 560-acre prescribed fire in grass does not take all day.

South Fork Prescribed Fire. Photo by Andrew Tate.

South Fork Prescribed Fire. Photo by Andrew Tate.

The photos below were taken by Bill Gabbert for Wildfire Today and are protected by copyright.
Continue reading

Share