Arizona: Yarnell Hill Fire

(UPDATE at 9:35 a.m. MDT, June 5, 2013)

Firefighters are making good progress on the Yarnell Hill Fire. Two maps released yesterday show the exact perimeter in detail and where fireline had been constructed when the maps were made on July 3. Today the IMTeam is calling the fire 80 percent contained. One of the maps says it has burned 8,165 acres, which is a revision from the 8,400 figure that has been used for several days and is still shown on InciWeb.

Evacuation orders were lifted for residents of Peeples Valley at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 4. Only residents with valid identification will be allowed access into the community.

Residents needing information regarding the status of their properties can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office at 928-427-6475.

We have more information about the deaths of the 19 firefighters and the weather that appeared to be a factor in the tragedy.

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(UPDATE at 7:30 p.m. MDT, July 3, 2013)

State Highway 89 remains closed between Date Creek Road south of Yarnell to mile marker 283 north of Peeples Valley.

There are 596 personnel assigned to the fire, including eight crews, 44 engines, and 9 helicopters.

The MODIS satellite found no concentrations of heat when it overflew the fire at 12:25 p.m. Wednesday. It can detect heat sources larger than 30 meters across.

Wednesday evening the Incident Management Team said the fire is 45 percent contained. This is a jump from the 8 percent number they were using yesterday. (But, refer to our explanation below about containment percentages.) The number of acres has not changed for a couple of days, and remains at 8,400.

map of Yarnell Hill Fire, July 3, 2013
IMTeam map of Yarnell Hill Fire, July 3, 2013

The IMTeam had not released a map of the fire since July 1, until they released the one above today. HERE is a link to a larger version of the map.

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(UPDATE at 7:50 a.m. MDT, July 3, 2013)

Map of Yarnell Fire, July 2, 2013
Map of Yarnell Hill Fire, July 2, 2013. The source of the perimeter data was a GPS device.

The Yarnell Hill Fire spread very little Tuesday and the Incident Management Team kept the reported acreage the same, at 8,400. The MODIS satellite detected no concentrations of heat larger than 30 meters across when it overflew the fire at 12:20 a.m. Wednesday. The IMTeam is estimating that 50 primary structures have burned, but this number may still be revised after assessments are complete. Approximately $1.75 million has been spent on the fire so far.

The Team selected 8 percent as the containment percentage they are distributing to the public. Until late yesterday they said there was no containment, meaning no fire line had been constructed and held. Until a few years ago, the containment percentage was an actual statistic, the amount of fire line completed and held compared to the fire line that still needed to be built, but recently it has become politicized and meaningless. There may still be some IMTeams that accurately report containment, and hopefully the IMTeam managing this fire is one of them. But since the public has no way of knowing, there is no point in getting excited about a containment percentage figure. More information about describing a fire as contained, controlled, or out is at the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s web site.

Below is an excerpt from an update issued by the IMTeam Tuesday night at 10 p.m.:

Today, firefighters made good progress on the northeast corner and the fire perimeter near Yarnell. Two hot shot crews scouted the western flank until the threat of thunderstorms caused them to move to safer areas. Creeping and smoldering continued around the structures, primarily in the afternoon, and some areas around structures are still holding enough heat to be a concern. A plan is being developed to restore utilities and infrastructure to the affected communities. Contingency lines were scouted in case the fire becomes active again. Tonight, crews will be patrolling in the developed areas and working on flareups and visible heat.

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(UPDATE at 3:02 p.m. MDT, July 2, 2013)

During the 11:27 a.m. overflight today, the MODIS satellite did not detect any large concentrations of heat larger than 30 meters square on the Yarnell Hill Fire, but there could still be a lot of work left for firefighters, including constructing fireline. With so much uncompleted line, there is still the possibility for the fire to continue to spread.

Map of Yarnell Fire, July 2, 2013,
Map of Yarnell Fire, July 2, 2013, showing the approximate perimeter of the fire. Provided by GEOMAC
Map of Yarnell Fire, July 2, 2013
Map of Yarnell Hill Fire, showing the approximate location of the fire perimeter at 1 a.m. MDT, July 2, 2013.
This map of the Yarnell Fire was used in a public meeting July 2, 2013. The time that the data was acquired, is not known; it may have been prepared before the updated data in the other two maps above was obtained.
This map of the Yarnell Hill Fire was used in a public meeting July 2, 2013. The time that the data was acquired is not known; the map may have been prepared before the updated data in the other two maps above was obtained.

The Yarnell Hill Fire was less active Monday than it was on Sunday when it rapidly overran the position of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, killing 19. (More information about the fatalities.)

Air tankers and firefighters worked the north perimeter of the fire where it continued to spread, and 5 helicopters assigned to the fire dropped water on hot spots in support of the firefighters. Efforts continued to secure the east flank to protect other homes at risk.

The Incident Management Team reported that 50 primary structures have burned in the fire. As of 9:30 p.m. on Monday they said it had blackened about 8,400 acres, was zero percent contained, and was being fought by about 500 personnel.

Clay Templin’s Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire at 6 p.m. Monday.

Fire officials will hold Community Meetings on July 2: 11 a.m. at Wickenburg High School and 3:30 p.m. at the Prescott High School.

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(UPDATE at 7:30 p.m. MDT, July 1, 2013)

The Incident Management Team reports that an estimated 200 homes and other structures burned Sunday in Yarnell. The Yarnell Fire Department will continue to assess the damage Monday.

The New York City Fire Department is sending five members of their Incident Management Team to assist in managing the Yarnell Fire.

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(UPDATE at 1:46 p.m. MDT, July 1, 2013)

3-D map of Yarnell Fire at 3:10 a.m. MDT, July 1, 2013
3-D map of Yarnell Fire at 3:10 a.m. MDT, July 1, 2013
Map of Yarnell Fire at 3:10 a.m. MDT, July 1, 2013
Map of Yarnell Fire at 3:10 a.m. MDT, July 1, 2013

The maps of the Yarnell Fire above show heat, represented by the square icons, detected by a satellite at 3:10 a.m. MDT, July 1, 2013. The red squares were the most recently detected. All of the icons can be as much as a mile in error.

IMTeam's map of Yarnell Fire, July 1, 2013
Incident Management Team’s map of Yarnell Fire, July 1, 2013. The city of Yarnell is just to the left, or west, of where it says “DIV Z”.

The Incident Management Team reports the fire has burned 8,374 acres and has zero containment. They also officially confirmed on Monday morning the fatalities that occurred on Sunday:

A fire crew had to deploy their fire shelters late yesterday afternoon after strong winds pushed the fire to their position and 19 firefighters died in the line of duty.

Mike Reichling of the Arizona Forestry Division said the early report of about half the structures in Yarnell being destroyed in the fire is an exaggeration. He said the Yavapai fire chief was assessing the destruction.
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