Authorities in Texas concerned about exploding targets

An article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph explains how law enforcement authorities in Texas are concerned about the spreading use of exploding targets in the state. It also reports that an eight-year old boy was killed in Oklahoma by shrapnel from an exploding target.

Below is an excerpt:

Reports of mysterious, loud booming explosions in rural areas across East Texas have sheriff deputies and fire departments searching their jurisdictions for the cause.

Although there typically is no lingering smoke, fire or other signs to point authorities to locate the source, Smith County Sheriff’s Lt. Gary Middleton and other law enforcement officials believe many of the explosive sounds are the result of people using shooting targets designed to explode when hit.

“A lot of these calls are due to people shooting (various brands of explosive targets) which are perfectly legal across much of the nation at this time,” Middleton said.

The targets are sold as kits containing two chemical components — such as ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder — that separately are not explosive, but when mixed together are primed for eruption. The target kits are available to the public in most gun stores and large sporting goods retailers.

Manufacturers of the product say the products are safe when used as intended, but law enforcement officials warn improper use could result in serious injury. In several instances across the nation, the shrapnel from blasts resulted in serious injuries and death.

Earlier this year, an 8-year-old boy in Oklahoma was killed when an outdoor stove stuffed with the material was shot and exploded, sending shrapnel into the child. The child’s adult relative has been charged with manslaughter in the death…

Prescribed fire at Lake Meredith

Lake Meredith prescribed fire

Firefighters at Lake Meredith National Recreation Area north of Amarillo, Texas (map) completed the 500-acre Mullinaw Crossing unit of a 4,500-acre prescribed fire project on February 21. So far 1,700 acres have been burned. The objectives are to decrease the amount of fuel that could burn in the event of a wildfire, thus minimizing the risk to surrounding communities, and to work toward the restoration of the mixed grass prairie that was native to the area before European settlement.

They had some help from their neighbors, including Chickasaw National Recreational Area, the Bureau of Land Management, and fire departments from Hutchinson County, Fritch, and Crutch.

Lake Meredith prescribed fire

Lake Meredith prescribed fire

Lake Meredith prescribed fire

Lake Meredith prescribed fire

Lake Meredith prescribed fire

All photos are provided by the National Park Service, including the one below that shows the area without a pesky fire in the foreground.

Lake Meredith


Grass fire tactics and safety

In a comment regarding the earlier article about the fires in Logan County, Oklahoma, Dick suggested some videos that shed light on the subject of fighting fire in grass —  “Attack from the Black” and “Oh, it’s just a Grass Fire”. We found those videos.

The first one, below, is “Attack from the Black”, which covers the tactics and safety of suppressing grass fires. Produced by the Texas Forest Service, it is actually a series of six videos, with each one being one to seven minutes long. It was uploaded to YouTube in 2011. If you play the one below, it will automatically keep transitioning to the next until you have watched all six.

The next video is “Oh, it’s just a Grass Fire”, uploaded by the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center in 2011. Here is how it is described:

Because grass fires often burn in short, light fuels, some firefighters may tend to encounter them with their “guard down”—without taking adequate safety precautions. Using lessons learned from actual grass fire incidents, this video illustrates why such a mindset can have disastrous outcomes. Don’t believe it? Hear a severely burned firefighter explain what he now wants you to always remember.

Wildfire briefing, June 13, 2014

(Originally published at 9:19 a.m. CT, June 13, 2014)

House teetering on cliff to be prescribed burned

House above lake

NBCDFW photo.

A house at the top of a cliff over Lake Whitney in Texas will be burned intentionally Friday morning. The cliff below part of the house has fallen away, leaving the house precariously teetering. The house will be burned, which is considered a better option than allowing it to fall into the lake where the debris would have to be removed.

A crew is prepping the house by breaking out windows and adding bales of hay soaked in diesel fuel to the interior.

The prescribed fire is being covered live by a television station in Texas.

(UPDATE at 10:15 a.m. CT, June 13, 2014)

Ignition has begun. Firefighters are on scene applying water between the burning home and a nearby house, perhaps to minimize damage to a couple of trees.

House above lake burning

(UPDATE at 11:36 a.m. CT, June 13, 2014)

It’s pretty much over:

House above lake burning House above lake burning

The photos are from NBCDFW.

Funeral services for Nevada firefighter

The funeral services for Donovan Artie Garcia Jr. will be held today, Friday, June 13. Mr. Garcia, the Assistant Chief of the Hungry Valley, Nevada fire department, died of a heart attack while participating in wildland fire training June 5. Services will be in Reno at 11 a.m. at the Hungry Valley Gymnasium, 9070 Eagle Canyon Drive.

MD-87 air tanker makes first drops

Erickson Aero Tanker’s two MD-87 air tankers, T-101 and T-105, made numerous drops on the Two Bulls Fire near Bend, Oregon shortly after they became certified and reported for duty. has an article in which they quote pilot Brent Conner:

“I mean, I always wanted to be flying propeller planes, so this is new for me, and for most of us in this business,” he said.

“We can hold it in check, as we did with this fire, for about two days with retardant,” he said. “That gave them enough time to get the other flank taken care of.”

While it’s a job he’s done countless times before, it was Conner’s first weekend in real wildfire action with the Aero Tanker.

“It was a little nerve-wracking, actually,” he said. “We hadn’t been on a fire yet, the fire’s only 15 miles away. We barely had time to get the airplane cleaned up and we were already putting the flaps down, slowing down and getting ready to go.”

More information about the MD-87s is at Fire Aviation.

Reward for information about Two Bulls Fire

And speaking of the Two Bulls Fire at Bend, Oregon, the reward for information leading to a conviction of the person or persons responsible for setting the 6,908-acre fire has increased to $31,500. Anyone with information that could help identify suspects in the fire is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-877-876-8477 (TIPS).

Hot pink may be the new color of fire retardant

The Missoula Technology Development Center is testing new colors for the fire retardant that is dropped by air tankers and helicopters. Below are excerpts from KPAX:

Over the last three years, some pilots have been complaining that the bright orange retardant is hard to see. “Particularly in late season when we’ve got grasses and trees that start turning color,” said Zylstra. With that concern, researchers at the US Forest Service’s Technology and Development Center in Missoula began looking into a solution, potentially a hot pink colored slurry. “So we run a product through a variety of different tests in our lab before it’s used out in the field,” said Zylstra.


The first batch of the hot pink slurry will be tested at four air tanker bases in California in regions predicted to have busy firefighting season.

Helitack crews train in Idaho has an article about U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management helitack crews training for the upcoming wildfire season.

Austin, Texas to get wildfire detection system

The Austin City Council voted to purchase a system of sensors mounted on towers that can detect smoke. The approval will allow the installation of two towers which will be tested for a year. At the end of the year they may decide to expand the system. In 2013, West Lake Hills, a community near Austin, also approved the acquisition of a similar system. It can detect smoke within 6 miles by rotating their sensors, completing a 360-degree rotation every 8 to 12 minutes, during which it takes images, analyzes, and then transmits those images for secondary analysis. If possible fire events are detected, the system alerts fire authorities.

Hotshots assist with prescribed fire on military base

The Laguna Hot Shots, based at Descanso, California, helped conduct a prescribed fire at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Thursday north of San Diego. Below is an excerpt from an article at 10News:

As a formation of Marine FA/18’s passed overhead to land at MCAS Miramar, members of the Laguna Hotshot crew were setting fire to the east side of the base.

The prescribed burn, as it’s called, is part of an annual brush management system put in place after the 2003 wildfire.

“After it burned more than 17,000 acres, the Cedar Fire really opened our eyes to a strong brush management program at the air station,” said Miramar Fire Operations Chief Paul Thompkins.

Construction begins on firefighter memorial in Prescott

Construction has started on a memorial in a cemetery in Prescott, Arizona for the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that were killed while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013.

Below is an excerpt from

Construction is starting on a cemetery memorial for 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill wildfire, nearly a year after the fire started near Prescott. Each firefighter will have a plot and a bronze grave marker at the state-owned Pioneers’ Home Cemetery in Prescott. The plots are surrounded by a two-foot wall where mourners can sit.

Officials say 10 of the Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters are already buried there. They say there’s room for family members to be buried alongside them.

The state designated a new section of the cemetery for the hotshots and charged $100 per grave site, instead of the usual $900.


Wildfire in Texas destroys 75 homes

Map Double Diamond Fire

Map showing the location of the Double Diamond Fire in the panhandle of Texas.

(Updated at 11:10 a.m. CDT, May 13, 2014)

Firefighters have stopped the spread of the Double Diamond Fire near Fritch, Texas and are mopping up the remaining hot spots. A more accurate assessment of the damage revealed that the fire destroyed 156 structures, at least 89 of which were homes, Texas Forest Service spokesman Troy Duchneaux said late Monday.


(Originally published at 11:04 a.m. CDT, May 12, 2014)

The Double Diamond wildfire in the Texas panhandle has destroyed about 75 homes 30 miles northeast of Amarillo, but as of Monday morning the fire is 75 percent contained, according to Fritch chief of police Monte Leggett. The fire, approximately 1,200 acres in size, forced hundreds of the town’s residents to evacuate.

At the time the fire was reported at 5 p.m. Sunday, a weather station four miles northeast of the fire recorded winds of 20 mph gusting up to 39 mph, a temperature of 96 degrees, and a relative humidity of 7 percent, conditions very conducive to rapid fire spread. Today at 10:35 a.m. CDT, weather conditions have moderated significantly in favor of the firefighters — 51 degrees, wind of 16 mph gusting to 25, and a relative humidity of 52 percent.

Weather radar detects wildfire smoke in Texas

The San Anglelo, Texas office of the National Weather Service published some interesting messages yesterday on Twitter.