Wildfire news, August 13, 2008

Rescued bear cub

The bear cub that was rescued by CalFire firefighter Adam Deem while working as a Field Observer on the Moon fire in northern California on July 17 is improving.

A badly blistered American black bear cub whose plight has touched the hearts of people around the world is continuing his recovery from second- and third-degree burns to his paws after his rescue last month from the hot embers of a Shasta-Trinity National Forest wildfire. 

“His paws are definitely healing,” Cheryl Millham, executive director of the nonprofit Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, said Tuesday. “His toes are coming along beautifully.”

Affectionately called “Li’l Smokey,” the approximately 6-month-old bear cub, who also was badly dehydrated, weighed only about 8 pounds when a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter plucked him from the scalding ashes of the Moon Fire.

He now weighs more than 16 pounds.

It’s hoped that Li’l Smokey’s severe burns will heal well enough that he can be released back into the Shasta-Trinity National Forest during next year’s hibernation season, Millham said.

The rest of the story is at the Redding Searchlight. The article says regular updates are at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care website, but we could not find any on the site.

UPDATE, August 14: We received an email from the LTWC folks. Lil’ Smokey has a blog which includes updates.

Emotional recovery from helicopter crash

The Mail Tribune has an article about the road to emotional recovery for the people affected by the helicopter crash that killed 9 firefighters on August 5. Here is a brief excerpt:

The road to emotional recovery could be a long one for those close to the nine people who died in the Aug. 5 helicopter crash at a wildfire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California, a mental health expert says. 

“For the people who have an event like this happen around them or to them, this changes them, probably for the rest of their lives,” observed Vard Miller, 61, a clinical social worker in charge of the critical incident teams for the U.S. Forest Service’s Region 6.

“There are actual brain changes as the result of traumatic events,” added Miller, who fought wildfires in his younger years. “Sometimes they never totally, fully recover in the sense that there can be a small incident that will trigger those memories and feelings.”

This week Miller has been meeting with firefighters and others connected to the crash of the Merlin-based Carson Helicopters Inc. aircraft that killed the pilot, a U.S. Forest Service aviation expert and seven firefighters from Grayback Forestry Inc., which has offices in White City and Merlin.

Grayback Forestry video

Here is a video from August 8 in which Grayback Forestry President Mike Wheelock provides some of the initial information about the victims of the August 5 helicopter crash.

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