Water train assists firefighters on Spromberg Fire in Washington

Above: A BNSF water train assists firefighters on the Spromberg Fire north of Leavenworth, Washington. Screen grab from New Life Channel video.

Firefighters struggled to find enough water to suppress a fire that began Tuesday in a large log deck three miles north of Leavenworth, Washington. A local resident told us that water sources were scarce, the nearest hydrants were miles away, and he counted 13 water tenders at the scene.

The BNSF water train eventually arrived carrying two large railroad cars with many thousands of gallons of water.

The passage of a dry cold front brought winds and long range spotting that spread the fire away from the log deck and across about 40 acres of forest. A Type 3 Incident Management Team assumed command on Wednesday.

Spromberg Fire map
Map showing the location of the Spromberg Fire three miles north of Leavenworth, Washington.
Spromberg Fire water train
A BNSF water train assists firefighters on the Spromberg Fire north of Leavenworth, Washington. Screen grab from Chelan County Fire District video.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Carl.
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Rainfall in western states slows wildfire season in many areas

Rainfall last 2 weeks washington oregon
Rainfall last 2 weeks, Washington and Oregon

Rainfall over the last two weeks has slowed or in some cases, ended the wildfire season in some areas.

On October 19 we ran the numbers for the accumulated precipitation for the last 14 days in the western states. These maps show amounts that exceeded 0.05 inches at some of the Interagency Remote Automatic Weather Stations (RAWS).

Washington, Oregon, and northern California have received a good soaking and I would imagine that local fire officials may be declaring an end to the fire season. Of course this is not unusual for these areas this time of the year, and some locations had already seen their season end. But what IS unusual, is the high amount of moisture that occurred in just two weeks.

You can click on the images to see larger versions.

Rainfall last 2 weeks, northern California
Rainfall last 2 weeks, northern California
Rainfall last 2 weeks central California
Rainfall last 2 weeks, central California

Continue to see maps for the other western states.
Continue reading “Rainfall in western states slows wildfire season in many areas”

Fire whirl spreads fire near Valleyford, Washington

Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

This video shot by Big Rock Farms in Valleyford, Washington at the Yale Road Fire is an example of how a large fire whirl can very quickly spread a fire in flashy fuels.

KHQ.com described the action (you might hear a four-letter word or two):

Jay Cronk is driving a tractor through a field, attempting to lay a fire line with flames just feet away, when suddenly, the fire takes over, forcing Cronk to race away before the fire reaches the combine and the fuel tank.

Melanie Steele, Brandon Cronk and Dean Walker are the ones you hear behind the camera shouting, “Pull away! Pull away!” as they sit anxiously in another vehicle on a nearby road.

Someone also says:

You see why you don’t want to get in front of that?

The Yale Road Fire 12 miles south of Spokane forced dozens of residents to evacuate and destroyed 10 homes. As of August 25 it had burned approximately 5,791 acres. Along with the 341-acre Wellesley Fire it was part of the Spokane Complex.

We wrote more about fire whirls and fire tornadoes on August 14.

Chimpanzees and elk featured in stories about wildfire in Washington

Elk and firefighterChimpanzees were one of the first to “report” the Highway 10/Hart Road fire near Cle Elum, Washington.

From the NWNewsNetwork:

…Jamie, a female chimp [at the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest], let out a soft high-pitched call when she spotted a plume of smoke rising outside of the sanctuary center’s playroom. The other chimps turned their heads to look. Then, the human caretakers noticed and dialed 911. Staff scrambled, got all the chimps inside and safe, turned on emergency sprinklers and evacuated staff…

And now we hear that a cow elk has been visiting with firefighters, making her rounds “giving kisses to each firefighter and officer” at the Incident Command Post.

Her name is Button. She was orphaned and has taken up residence near the Chimp Sanctuary adopting some goats and horses as her family.

Elk at fire

Elk and firefighters

Photos of Buttons with the firefighters are by the Kittitas County Fire District #7. More are here.

Washington DNR says powerline caused the fatal Twisp River Fire

An investigator’s report on the cause of the fatal Twisp River Fire revealed that a tree branch contacting a power line ignited, dropped to the ground, and started the fire west of Twisp, Washington.

Three firefighters for the U.S. Forest Service were killed inside their vehicle August 19, 2015 when they were attempting to escape from the rapidly spreading fire. A fourth firefighter exited the vehicle and ran to safety. He was severely burned, but survived, hospitalized for three months. The deceased were Tom Zbyszewki, 20, Andrew Zajac, 26, and Richard Wheeler, 31. The injured firefighter was Daniel Lyon, 25, of Puyallup, Washington.

The Seattle Times obtained a copy of the investigation report through a public records request. The entire 38-page document can be seen here.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.