Wildfire briefing, July 29, 2014

Congress fails to act on wildfire funding

Dollar SignCongress still has not taken action on the President’s request for $615 million to be put into a fund to pay for wildfires. Having this money up front could prevent the federal land management agencies from being forced to rob money from unrelated accounts in order to pay firefighting bills. And with their 5-week vacation beginning on July 31, it is unlikely our elected representatives will do anything before the second week in September at the earliest.

Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said, “The [land management] agencies have a big pile of money already. I don’t think there’s an urgency on the money part.”

Looking for information about Washington fires

Greg Baron wrote an interesting piece for Emergency Management about trying to find information for a client who wanted to provide assistance with reconstruction related to the wildfires in Washington. After searching online, here is a portion of his findings. The rest are here:

1. There is no JIC [Joint Information Center]. The Washington fires are involving at least two counties (Okanagan and Chelan) and numerous small towns including Pateros, Carlton, Brewster, Twisp and Winthrop. But there is no one single source of up-to-date and reliable information. Complicating that is there are a couple of different major fires with different names: Carleton Complex (or Carlton Complex as there is no consistency) and Chiwaukum Complex (try and remember that name, let alone how to spell it).

2. The best source was this blog site: http://carltoncomplex.blogspot.com/. But there are some issues: Who is behind it? The information only said that it is published by “Carlton Complex.” How can we know if it is official (as it says) or reliable if you don’t identify yourself? The site itself is very nicely presented and of the many I looked at, easiest to find what you are looking for (except if you are looking to offer services). I really like the listing of other sources with links, the Twitter feed on the front page, the integration with other social media, the map, the rolling updates from news media — there’s lots to like here. I also really like that you can sign up for email updates; I just signed up so can’t say how they are doing with that but I think this is something that is often missed. I also really like the Spanish language emphasis, which is evident in several sites — a reality given the percentage of Hispanic population in this area.

3. InciWeb doesn’t cut it. InciWeb provided by the U.S. Forest Service has been a primary Web tool for the agency for fires, but I always hear of difficulties. I suspect the blog referred to above is run by the U.S. Forest Service and may be to replace InciWeb as there is counter-linking.

Cost of Washington wildfires

Officials in Washington estimate that the cost of suppressing wildfires in their state so far this year as been $50 million. About half of that went to the Carlton Complex fire, at a cost of over $23 million. These figures do not include loss of property or damage to infrastructure. The Carlton Complex burned about 300 homes and heavily damaged the power grid in the Methow Valley.

Public service announcements featuring Disney’s movie, Planes: Fire & Rescue

Planes and Smokey

Disney is joining the Ad Council, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters  to launch a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring scenes and characters from Disneytoon Studios’ animated film Planes: Fire & Rescue. The PSAs are an extension of the Wildfire Prevention PSA campaign, featuring the iconic Smokey Bear, who celebrates his 70th birthday this summer. For more information on Smokey Bear and the Wildfire Prevention campaign visit: www.SmokeyBear.com.


Smokey Bear turns 70, gives out hugs

Today in honor of Smokey Bear’s 70th year the Ad Council released two new public service announcements. The concept in the video above, Smokey being horrified by the flames from 70 candles on his birthday cake, was developed from suggestions by Brigham Young University students. 

The video below shows Smokey hugging someone who prevented the safety chains on his trailer from dragging the ground and creating dangerous sparks.

Here are some interesting facts found in an article at the Orlando Sentinel:

  • A 1952 anthem celebrated “Smokey the Bear” and stirred a debate that lasted several decades. To maintain the proper rhythm in the song, the writers added “the” to the name, etching Smokey the Bear into the public psyche. But his name always was, and still is, Smokey Bear.
  • The venerable Chicago ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding has represented Smokey Bear on a pro bono basis since he was a cub. As a public service, executives in the agency’s Los Angeles office now volunteer their time to produce ads featuring the bear.
  • Federal law places tight restrictions on how Smokey Bear can be used and what he can say. He is allowed to utter just one line: “Only you can prevent wildfires.” For 54 years, Smokey said: “Only you can prevent forest fires.” The line was modified in 2001 to recognize the danger near more urban areas to “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
  • [In the new ad campaign,] Smokey Bear also took on a softer image. He doesn’t growl as much, and now he gives out bearhugs.”The bearhug campaign is refreshing the brand, and making him seem more lovable — and more relevant,” FCB’s Springer said. “We didn’t want him to be mad at mankind for starting forest fires.”

In an acknowledgment of the digital age, Smokey is now on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. And of course he has a webpage, and even his own Zip Code, 20252.


Betty White begins her work as Honorary Forest Ranger

Betty White has started her duties as an Honorary Forest Ranger, after being appointed to the position in September. One of the first things she did was to appear with Smokey Bear in this public service announcement.

Other Honorary Forest Rangers are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Leavell, keyboard player for the Rolling Stones.

If the video will not play on your device click HERE to see it on YouTube.


Wildfire Today reader creates Smokey Bear Jack O’Lantern

Smokey Bear pumpkin

Smokey Bear pumpkin by Steve

Steve read the instructions for creating a Smokey Bear Jack O’Lantern and executed them brilliantly, as you can see in the photo above. He said it’s his “best pumpkin carving yet!” His primary tool was a Dremel with a small drill bit. It took about two hours.

Thanks Steve. Great job! It is also an excellent photograph.

Happy Halloween everyone!


UPDATE November 1, 2013:

Michael created the one below. He said it takes a lot longer than you would think. He also used a Dremel tool.

Smokey Bear pumpkin

Smokey Bear pumpkin by Michael