Dozer operator killed on prescribed fire in northwest Florida

The operator was working for a prescribed fire contractor

Gonzalez, Florida prescribed fire Map showing the area around Gonzalez, Florida. The red and yellow dots represent heat detected by a satellite on March 21 and 22, 2019.

A man operating a dozer was killed October 9 while working on a prescribed fire in northwest Florida.

Daryl Bradley Holland, 38, was pronounced dead at the scene of the project that was being conducted east of Gonzalez, Florida about 25 air miles northwest of Eglin Air Force Base, and 12 miles north of Pensacola.

Below is an excerpt from an article at NorthEscambia.com:

“He got off in an attempt to remove a tree or large limb lodged in the tracks,” Maj. Andrew Hobbs said Monday afternoon. “The bulldozer wasn’t all the way out of gear. When it was un-jammed, the bulldozer lurched forward.”

Holland was working for HHH Construction of NWF, which was a subcontractor of Munroe Forest & Wildlife Management on the burn, according to Nathalie Bowers, public information officer for the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority.

The prescribed fire occurred on land administered by the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), a government organization. Their plan, in a March 6 press release, was to conduct the 940-acre burn in the vicinity of the Central Water Reclamation Facility March 7 through March 9.  A “burn-certified contractor” was scheduled to conduct the burn operations as part of ECUA’s management plan for the ecological restoration of forest lands at the site. The property is in the Gonzalez community mostly south of Becks Lake Road, west of the Escambia River.

The map at the top of this article shows heat detected by a satellite in the area described on March 21 and 22.  Heat from the burn operation March 7 through 9 would not show up on the map.

Below is an announcement about the project the ECUA posted on Facebook on March 6.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers of Mr. Holland.

ECUA prescribed fire announcement

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Brent. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Two wildfires burning on Eglin Air Force Base in Florida

wildfires on Elgin Air Force Base map
Map showing the locations of two wildfires on Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. The red and yellow dots represent heat detected by a satellite; the red dots are the most current: 1:47 p.m. EDT, March 22, 2019. Click to enlarge.

Two wildfires have been burning on Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida since Thursday.

One of them, the Wet Pond Fire, is burning on Test Area A-77 that contains unexploded ordnance, so firefighters are not entering the area and are formulating a plan to suppress it indirectly with burnout operations from roads or natural barriers. If implemented, that strategy would increase the size to about 4,000 acres.

Base spokesperson Mike Spaits said the fire started during a training mission of the U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), an Eglin-headquartered unit based in Crestview.

A second fire, in Test Area A-78, had burned about  500 acres as of Friday morning. Work on the fire, Mr. Spaits said, “will include improving dozer lines and continued scouting for additional opportunities to construct fire lines.”

Both blazes are being managed by “members of the Eglin Wildland Support Module with assistance from Florida Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Longleaf Alliance,” according to an 11 a.m. update from Mr. Spaits.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Darryn. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

CAL FIRE receives new dozer and transport

CAL FIRE dozer and transport
New dozer and transport for the Nevada Yuba Placer Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. CAL FIRE photo.

The Nevada Yuba Placer Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection recently received a large piece of fire suppression equipment. (Back in the old days we would lovingly refer to them as a Big Yellow McLeod.)

Here is how it is described by the agency:


CAL FIRE NEU took possession of a new 2018 D6N Caterpillar Dozer and 2019 International HX Series Transport.

The dozer has been modified with an extended track frame which helps with climbing and side hill performance. The engine compartment is configured with a 75 gallon water fire suppression system that can be activated by the operator for fires within the dozer. For operator safety the cab has a pressurized filtration environmental cab system and complete roll over protection system. An advanced lighting package will increase night time vision and allow safer operation under dusty and dark conditions.

The dozer and transport both have the CAL FIRE Automatic Vehicle Location System which operates from radio, satellite, and cellular.

CAL FIRE dozer and transport
New dozer and transport for the Nevada Yuba Placer Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. CAL FIRE photo.

The transport is has a Cummins X15 Performance motor that produces 605 Horse Power and 2050 lb-ft Torque. It is mounted to an 18 speed transmission.

Both Pieces of equipment will service the entire state but are based out of the Nevada City CAL FIRE Station.

One of the two operators assigned to this equipment will be Joe Kennedy recently made famous by videos showing his heroic efforts saving citizens at the Camp Fire in Paradise.

The other operator is Shawn Entz who is a fourth generation Nevada County resident who has over 20 years logging and firefighting in California.


If anyone has a link to the videos referred to above, let us know in a comment.

 

System developed to shut off electricity to broken power line before it hits the ground

It can be done in less than 1.37 seconds

Power Line Shutoff System
SDG&E’s has developed a system that can shut off the electricity to a broken power line before it hits the ground. SDG&E graphic.

Some of the wildfires that have destroyed thousands of homes in California in the last two years were caused by broken power lines. A utility that supplies electricity to much of Southern California, San Diego Gas and Electric, has developed a system intended to cut off power to a falling power line before it hits the ground, therefore avoiding a possible ignition.

SDG&E’s research found that it takes 1.37 seconds for a broken conductor to hit the ground, for example, if a tree falls into the line or a vehicle hits a power pole. When the line contacts the ground sparks can ignite vegetation. The system is designed to detect a break and shut off the power before the clock hits 1.37 seconds — hopefully, avoiding what could become a dangerous wildfire.

In SDG&E’s video below, they describe the system beginning at 1:40.

If this actually is effective in the real world, it would be a very important method of preventing some wildfires caused by power lines.

Worker clearing road in Butte Fire scar killed by rolling log

Butte Fire
The Butte Fire at 6:09 p.m. on September 10, as seen from above Jackson, CA, looking southeast. Photo by Matthew Rhodes.

A Calaveras County employee working on a brush clearing project along a road in the scar from the Butte Fire was killed Monday March 18 by a rolling tree or log. County Public Works personnel were working with a CAL FIRE Conservation Camp crew inside the perimeter of the fire that burned 71,000 acres south of Jackson, California in September, 2015.

Kevin Raggio, Calaveras County Coroner, identified the man as 57-year-old Ansel John Bowman.

A very brief “Blue Sheet”preliminary report released by CAL FIRE said the county employee “was hit by a previously downed tree and suffered fatal injuries”. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Butte Fire destroyed 233 residences and 175 outbuildings, and may have caused the deaths of two civilians.