Fire briefing, April 26, 2013

California firefighter entrapped and injured

A Lieutenant with Tulare County in California suffered minor burns to his hands when his patrol unit became stuck in a ditch as a vegetation fire approached. Working by himself, he attempted to knock down the fire using the pump and hose on the truck but was unsuccessful. He was transported to a hospital complaining of difficulty breathing in addition to the burn injuries.

Texas legislature considers bills to promote prescribed fire

The Texas legislature is considering two bills that would make it easier in some cases for landowners to use prescribed fire as a tool. SB 702 would establish standards for prescribed burners, as well as education and insurance for those conducting the prescribed fires. A second bill, SB 764, would limit prescribed burning liability on government-owned agricultural lands, making it easier for government agencies to use prescribed fire, even under a burn ban. Both bills passed unanimously in Senate committees.

Colorado’s risk assessment tool for residents

The Colorado State Forest Service has an online tool available for residents which allows them to explore wildfire risk levels within a 1/2-mile radius of a home, or any other point of interest on the map.

Steam engine starts fires in England

steam engine

North Yorkshire Moors Railway photo

A steam-powered train started three vegetation fires in North Yorkshire County on Sunday in the United Kingdom. The fires burned about 19 acres in a remote area that was difficult for firefighters to access. Some of them hitched a ride on a train from Goathland that was packed with tourists. On Tuesday the train started another fire in Beck Hole. Weather has prevented the North Yorkshire Moors Railway from conducting their usual prescribed fires along the railway.

MAFFS annual training

MAFFS 2 training

A C-130 Hercules from the 302nd Airlift Wing drops a load of water April 22, 2013 near Fairplay, Colo during training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Federico) Click to enlarge.

Two of the four military units that provide military C-130 aircraft configured to serve as air tankers are conducting their annual training, certification, and recertification. Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs had their’s April 19-23 and Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne has chosen the week of May 5. The military Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) can help fill a need for a surge capacity when all of the privately owned contract air tankers are committed.

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Summary of the explosion-related firefighter fatalities in West, Texas

As you probably know, many people were injured and killed in the small town of West, Texas Wednesday as a result of a very large explosion at the Central Texas fertilizer plant. The investigation into the cause of the incident began on Friday, but the suspected culprit at this early stage is a highly-explosive fertilizer, ammonium nitrate, which was being stored in large quantities on site.

Our sincere condolences go out to all of the families and departments affected by this tragedy. Facts about the exact number of fatalities and injuries have been slow to emerge, but it appears that approximately 200 were injured and about 14 were killed. Today FirefighterCloseCalls put together a summary of the firefighter and EMS line of duty deaths that occurred:

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“As of now, it appears that there were 12 deaths related to the fire & EMS operations on the scene.

  • 5 Firefighters with West FD.
  • 2 Firefighters with Abbott FD/West EMS.
  • 1 Firefighter with Merknel FD/West EMS.
  • 1 Firefighter with Bruceville Eddy FD/West EMS.
  • 1 Dallas FD Captain who lived in West went to the scene to assist.
  • 2 Civilians who have ties to the West FD were helping on the scene.

(The 4 Firefighter/EMT’s were at the West EMS Station taking an EMT class, saw the fire and went to assist.)

NOTE: Preliminary plans indicate that there will be a memorial service on Thursday, April 25, at the Ferrell Center – Baylor University in Waco, Texas at 1400 hours.”

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2011 Texas wildfires: common denominators of home destruction

2011 Texas Wildfires

The Texas Forest Service has put together an excellent publication containing lessons learned during the wildfires in 2011 regarding the common denominators that led to homes  igniting and burning during the fire siege. You can download the report here — it is large 39MB pdf file.

One of the best features of the report is the section illustrated with very good photos showing the common characteristics of homes that led to their destruction, such as the photo below.

Home steps on fire

Relatively fire-resistant homes can ignite during low-intensity wildfires if a path of combustible material, such as stairs or support beams, leads the fire up to the home. (from the report)

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Red Flag Warnings, March 5, 2013

Red Flag Warnings

Areas of Texas and Florida are under Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches today. In Texas the Red Flag Warning is in effect until 8 p.m. on Tuesday due to windy and dry conditions. In Florida the Red Flag Warnings are valid until 6 p.m. for St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, and Marion counties, and until 7 p.m. in Polk County

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The map above was current as of 2:50 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.

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Red Flag Warning for Texas, February 21, 2013

Red Flag Warning, Texas, 2-21-2013

Red Flag Warnings are in effect for some areas in southwest Texas until 6 p.m. CT today for strong winds and low humidites.

It as has been 1 year, 2 months, and 21 days since the U.S. Forest Service issued a solicitation for next-generation large air tankers, but no contracts have been awarded.

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The map above was current as of 10:20 a.m. MT on Thursday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.

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