Jeff Zimmerman of Zimmerman Media took some excellent photos at the Shirley Fire near Lake Isabella, California over the weekend. Jeff has been involved in the fire service for the past 28 years and has served as a fire officer, paramedic, hazardous materials technician and as a photojournalist.
On June 8 we ran an incredible photo of a bride and groom that was taken just after they said “I do”. In the background of the photo was an ominous, dark column of smoke from the Two Bulls Fire near Bend, Oregon. Just after a shortened ceremony, the wedding party, guests, DJ, and caterer had to evacuate and relocate to a park in Bend. Other outlets also ran the photo, and it went viral quickly.
Saturday, June 14, a similar scene developed, but the ceremony went off without a hitch (however, they WERE hitched). Megan Reehill and Rick Watson, seen in the photo above, were married close enough to the Shirley Fire near Lake Isabella in California that the smoke from the fire also showed up in their photos. The ceremony and the reception took place at The Lodge at Painted Rock in Lake Isabella five miles south of the perimeter of the Shirley Fire (map).
When we asked permission from the photographer, Makenzie Barerfileld, to use the photo, she also provided the following information:
The photos were taken at the beginning of the fire, before it had grown to the devastation that it is presently. The father of the bride actually went to the fire officials early that morning to make sure we were safe and if we would need to evacuate the wedding venue or not. They told us when we saw the flames with our own eyes on the hills in the distance that we would have eight hours to evacuate the wedding venue, The Lodge at Painted Rock in Lake Isabella, CA. The backdrop was unavoidable. It was a constant reminder of the contrast of the day.
The bride explained that the outdoor wedding had been planned 10 months in advance, and after checking with the fire officials, they felt they could do it safely, and under those conditions the fire was not going to stop the wedding or force them to find a different venue at the last minute.
If you’d like to find out more about the happy couple, including their wedding plans, a brief bio, and how the proposal went, it is all at TheKnot.com. And just for the hell of it, I sent them a wedding gift. They are registered at the Pottery Barn and Macy’s.
(Information about the Way Fire that started August 18, 2014 north of Highway 155 near Wofford Heights and Kernville, can be found HERE. The article below is about the Shirley Fire, of June, 2014))
(UPDATE at 8:47 a.m. PT, June 17, 2014)
Below is an update on the Shirley fire near Wofford Heights, California, provided by the Incident Management Team at about 8:30 a.m. PT Tuesday:
Excellent progress made over the previous 24 hours on all areas of the fire perimeter has enabled firefighters to raise containment to 75%. Burning operations used yesterday to widen lines in Division Y, held throughout the night. A wind advisory issued for the Kern Valley and will remain in place until Tuesday afternoon, wind speeds are expected to reach up to 45 MPH. Crews will be cautious of the possibility of blowing embers causing spot fires outside the line as they work to improve containment. Safety remains a concern as steep rocky terrain, tree snags and rolling material from the fire are in all areas of the fire. Last nights community meeting was attended by approximately 120 people and was streamed live to another 1100 viewers and can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf4hf0WRj8g
Today, crews will continue to hold and improve containment lines and mop up interior to the perimeter. Demobilization of resources will begin today as firefighters return home to prepare and train for the additional wildland fires to come.
The official size is 2,646 acres.
(UPDATE at 9 p.m. PT, June 16, 2014)
A community meeting for the Shirley Fire was broadcast live on YouTube Monday night. It started at 7 p.m., and got off to a slow start with a long speech from the Kern County Fire Chief.
Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley came on and said they have a line around the entire fire but they are not calling it contained yet.
They said the fire has burned 2,646 acres. The Incident Management Team is calling it 75 percent contained. All evacuations for the fire have been lifted.
Incident Commander Pincha-Tulley in attempting to answer a question about where the three homes that burned were located, said she knew the general area where the losses occurred, but not being from the area, she did not know how to describe the general location to the audience. She said she was not being flippant.
Broadcasting the community meeting live on YouTube was a great idea, at least in concept. On our end, there were quite a few interruptions in the video with a lot of stopping and buffering, while we watched the circle of dots go around and around. Viewers could leave live comments on the website, and many others confirmed that they too were affected by the interruptions in the video.
It was odd that there was no organized attempt to provide a general briefing to the community members about the status of the fire. After they opened it up to questions, one of them, about 30 or 40 minutes into the meeting, was how many acres had burned and how much of the fire was contained. And no one was prepared to answer a question from the audience of where the three burned homes were located.
There may be a recording of the video available later on YouTube, and hopefully it won’t have all of the buffering interruptions. If so we will add the link to it here.
UPDATE at 9:20 p.m. PT, June 16, 2014: A recording of the meeting can be seen on YouTube. In the video, the meeting actually starts at about 48:30. After preliminary information from the host and the Kern County Fire Chief, the meat of the meeting begins at 1:02:33 when the local USFS District Ranger makes a brief comment just before the Incident Commander comes on.
(UPDATE at 7:42 a.m. PT, June 16, 2014)
The Shirley Fire west of Wofford Heights was very active on Sunday, growing by over 1,000 acres primarily on the north side but it also expanded on the southeast side. This brings the total area burned to 2,600 acres according to the map and information we have received, but the Pincha-Tulley Type 1 Incident Management Team reported at 8 a.m. Monday that the fire had only burned 2,200 acres. They are calling it 10 percent contained. New information from the Team has been rather sparse, but the National Interagency Fire Center reports that two structures have been destroyed. It is unknown if they were residences or outbuildings.
The fire is being fought by 1,176 personnel, with 73 engines, 4 helicopters, and 29 crews at a cost so far of $4.2 million. Air tankers, including one of the DC-10s flying out of Santa Maria, also were busy over the fire on Sunday. Night-flying helicopters from the Kern County Fire Department have also been used after sunset when the other aircraft are grounded.
As the fire spreads to the east it moves from conifers above 5,000 feet to lighter vegetation below 4,000 feet. In the lower elevations the fuels transition to brush and grass, conditions under which the air tankers and helicopters working with the firefighters on the ground can be more effective.