The map shows the distribution of smoke from wildfires in California. It was produced at 3:22 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013.
A firefighter with the State of New Jersey Forest Fire Service died while working on a prescribed fire Thursday, March 28. Jeffrey Scheuerer, 35, of Raritan Township, died from injuries after being struck by a vehicle near Round Valley Reservoir, according to Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns.
“Mr. Scheuerer and other members were conducting a controlled burn along Route 629 near Round Valley Reservoir,” Mr. Kearns said. “According to our preliminary investigation, it appears that a heavy smoke condition associated with the controlled burn was present at the time of the crash and may have caused reduced visibility when a shift in the wind occurred. Mr. Scheuerer was struck by a vehicle and did not survive his injuries.”
On his days off Mr. Scheuerer served as a member of the Readington Volunteer Fire Company.
Our sincere condolences go out to his family and coworkers.
Wenatchee residents endured heavy smoke
The residents of Wenatchee, Washington were exposed to extremely high levels of wildfire smoke for several weeks in September and October. The Wenatchee Complex fires, started from a storm that produced 4,000 lightning strikes, blackened over 56,000 acres.
According to the Wenatchee World:
… by Sept. 14, there were more than 1,100 micrograms of fine airborne particles per cubic meter. That’s more than eight times the level considered hazardous for human health. (For comparison’s sake, the clear-sky day of Dec. 19 averaged just 8.4 micrograms.)
Wenatchee’s smoke levels remained high for weeks, averaging 200 micrograms daily until Oct. 12 but never reaching that peak again. But in Cashmere, as smoke poured from canyon mouths and settled, 24-hour average particle counts there reached as high as 928 micrograms between Sept. 17 and 22.
Cashmere schools closed for three days while officials struggled to proof them against smoke, which had infiltrated the buildings and reached dangerous accumulations. Parents in other districts opted to remove their kids from school: Between Sept. 9 and Oct. 12, there were 3,400 more student absences in Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas and Okanogan counties than the same period in 2011.
Fire burns DNR facility in Washington
Yesterday a fire in a Department of Natural Resources maintenance facility in Forks, Washington heavily damaged a fire engine and destroyed three pickup trucks. All that was left of the structure was the four walls and a portion of the roof. Some components from the engine may be salvaged even though the roof collapsed onto the truck.
Colorado Springs to hold community wildfire meeting
In the wake of criticism following their management of the Waldo Canyon fire which destroyed 347 homes last June, the Colorado Springs Fire Department has scheduled a community meeting ”to increase wildfire awareness and emergency preparedness in the community”, according to a news release from the city. In addition to encouraging their residents in high risk areas to prepare for the inevitable wildfires, the city has a lot of room for improvement in their training and preparedness.
Coulson modifies 2 helicopters for night flying
Extreme fire danger in Victoria
Our friends down under in Victoria will be experiencing extreme bushfire danger in the southwest part of the state on Friday, with the danger in the rest of the state rated as severe. Temperatures will be above 40C (104F) until the middle of next week. Heat health alerts were issued by the chief health officer for the central and north central districts, taking in Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat, Marysville and other townships.
Video of helicopter crash in ocean off Brazil coast
The four crewmembers of a fire department helicopter
walked swam away from their helicopter after it crashed into the ocean off the coast of Copacabana beach in Brazil. Check out the video HERE. The crash occurred while they were attempting to rescue a stranded swimmer.
The Rio de Janeiro state fire department blamed the incident on an undetermined mechanical failure.
Thanks go out to Dick
Idaho Governor has recommendations on how to reduce damage from wildfires
The Governor of Idaho, C.L. “Butch” Otter, in an opinion article published under his name, has some recommendations about how to reduce the adverse impacts from wildfires. They include more roads, grazing, and logging.
Smoke from Idaho’s Mustang Fire had elevated levels of radiation
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality tested the air quality near the Mustang Fire and said that even though they found “definitely elevated” levels of radiation, it did not pose a risk to human health. The air samples were obtained in the nearby town of North Fork. As Wildfire Today told you on September 21, the fire burned through four former mining sites that had traces of radioactive uranium and thorium.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
…Paul Ritter, health physicist with the state environmental agency, said in the area of the mining sites, smoke from the fire showed amounts of radiation roughly equivalent to emissions from a fire in 2000 that charred parts of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nuclear weapons design facility in New Mexico.
“The readings are definitely elevated but not out of line with what has been measured in fires before. It is not a risk,” he said.
Americans are exposed to an estimated 310 millirems of radiation a year from natural sources, including some rocks and soils, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
An analysis of air samples in North Fork showed residents would have been exposed to 0.5 millirems of radiation in a 30-day period. That compares to a dose of 5 millirems delivered by a round-trip transcontinental flight, Ritter said.
Utah students influence legislation about wildfires
Some high school students in Utah who were interested in the effects of climate change talked to state Representative Kraig Powell, who, according to a report in Power Engineering:
…has opened a bill file for legislation that would examine how climate change is expected to drive more and bigger wildfires and to begin planning for future wildfire fighting and suppression costs.
In early meetings with Powell, [the students] shared some of what they had learned about wildfire in Utah. For instance, they told how the state already has seen 400,000 acres burned this year with suppression costs of $47.1 million — part of a trend prompted by record hot and dry periods.
They also told how rehabilitating burned areas often costs more than fighting the wildfire itself. Their example? The 2007 Milford Flat fire which racked up a $5 million bill for suppression, while rehabilitating the scarred forest and range cost $17 million.
That’s what led to the concept for the bill, which is currently being drafted by the Legislature’s lawyers.
“I’ve been learning a lot,” Powell said. “It’s not a simple science.”
Meth production may have caused brush fire
Michigan State Police are investigating a small wildfire that may have originated from an attempt to cook meth in Marquette Township.
The map showing the distribution of smoke from wildfires has an interesting pattern today. We are thinking that the area shown in yellow, the moderately dense smoke, that is drifting into northeast Minnesota and Canada is from the Minnie fire.