Wildfire news, September 19, 2008

Suit Claims Negligence In Firefighter Helicopter Deaths

The family of one of the firefighters killed in the helicopter crash in Northern California last month has filed suit.
The family of 25-year-old Scott Charlson is suing Carson Helicopters, Sikorsky, which built the helicopter, and General Electric, which made the engine.
The helicopter was transporting crews from a wildfire in a rugged area of the Siskiyou-Trinity national forest when it crash on Aug 5. Nine people were killed, including seven local wildland firefighters, a Carson pilot, and a U.S. Forest Service employee.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board says the helicopter’s main rotor lost power during takeoff.
The suit claims negligence in the design and manufacture of the helicopter, and the maintainence and operation by Carson. Carson helicopters says it hasn’t seen the suit yet. The suit asks for a to-be-determined amount for wrongful death and other claims, and the family’s lawyers have asked for a jury trial.
From ktvl.com
Utah: Dixie NF has four fire use fires 

The Dixie National Forest is managing four fires for resource benefit: Forsyth Ridge (on the Pine Valley Ranger District), Fife Ridge (on the Cedar City Ranger District), Straight Canyon (on the Powell Ranger District), and Pine (on the Escalante Ranger District).

All four fires are being managed as wildland fire use (WFU). WFU are naturally occurring fires (e.g., lightning strike) that are managed for resource benefit.

The Forsyth Ridge WFU is located in the Pine Valley Wilderness area about 2 miles south from Pine Valley. It is about 209 acres in size and has been burning since Aug. 19. It is is burning in mixed conifer and aspen with dead understory and likely will result in regeneration of some aspen.

The Fife Ridge WFU has been burning since Aug. 30. It is about 704 acres. It is most visible from the Zion Overlook on Highway 14. It is burning in steep terrain, within aspen and conifer stands. Firefighters have taken management actions on the south and east portions of the fire to stop the spread in those directions.

The Straight WFU is 211 acres. It is located on the Powell Ranger District on the south half of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The fire is burning in aspen areas providing additional resource benefit.

The Pine WFU is burning on the Escalante Ranger District 20 miles north of Escalante and 20 miles northwest of Boulder. As of Sept. 15 it is 200 acres in size and has experienced minimal growth in the last couple of days.

From thespectrum.com
Insurance company says homes may be treated with “fire retardant”
Farmers Insurance company has notified some homeowners in southern California that their homes may be sprayed with “fire retardant” before or during a wildland fire. We are assuming that they will actually use wildland foam or gel, rather than the retardant used in air tankers. This is a pilot program that will be free to policy holders. More information is HERE.
Wildfire plays role in movie
Samuel L. Jackson and a wildland fire play leading roles in the movie “Lakeview Terrace” that opens today. It is about a couple that live next door to a cop, Jackson, who begins to harass and then terrorize them.
During much of the movie a fire is slowly approaching the neighborhood, creating tension and a metaphor. The fire is completely CGI, computer generated imagery. The movie was filmed in Walnut, California in a cul-de-sac that was completely taken over by the film crew.
About the location, the director, Neil LaBute, said he “…wanted something that felt very suburban but would afford a believable backdrop for fires…”
If you see this movie, let us know how realistic the fires were.

California: wildire smoke may have tainted wine grapes

Some wineries were affected by the smoke from the Siege of ’08 and others were not, but experts say they can filter out the taste if necessary.
An excerpt from pressdemocrat.com
Three months after smoke from wildfires carpeted California’s vineyards, some winemakers in the thick of harvest are reporting grapes giving off unusual odors that may be signs of smoke taint. While it’s too early to generalize about the scope of the potential problem, some troubling reports are filtering in from Mendocino County, which earlier this summer endured some of the fiercest wildfires and worst air quality in memory.
“Winemakers are saying that they think stuff is smelling funny to them, and they want to know what’s going on,” said Glenn McGourty, viticulture adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Mendocino. While worrisome for winemakers, consumers may not need to worry about tasting smoke instead of oak in their favorite chardonnay because winemakers have sophisticated filtration tools to remove offending flavors.


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