Wildfire news, September 27, 2008

California reorganizes state emergency services

According to the AP:

A new law will combine two California emergency response offices into one cabinet-level agency to deal with wildfires, earthquakes, floods and other disasters that annually test the state.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Saturday that merging the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Office of Homeland Security will improve the state’s ability to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.

He said the new California Emergency Management Agency will be more streamlined and efficient. But legislative analysts say it isn’t likely to save much money immediately because administrative savings will be offset by merger costs.

Fire budget bill sent to President

The bill that includes an additional $910 million in emergency federal funding for wildland fire has been approved by both the house and the senate and has been sent to the President.

According to a press release from Senator Dianne Feinstein from California:

The fire budget bill sent to President Bush includes $610 million for fighting fires the rest of the year, $175 million to reduce fire fuels by clearing dead forest growth, and $100 million for lands restoration. 

Feinstein said the bill includes mandates for the federal government to fully staff all firefighting jobs in California, where 8.5 percent of those 4,432 positions are currently vacant.

The bill would also require the Defense Department to restore two C-130H fire tankers to the duty roster at the Naval Air Station at Point Mugu, so they can be used to fight fires quickly. Existing planes stationed there have inoperative fire equipment, and Feinstein says the federal government has been too slow to replace them.

California: Fire damages arboretum in Redding

Redding has certainly had their share of fires, both in and around the city this summer. From redding.com:

Leaves are brown, bark is black and dirt is sooty or ashen-gray. Those aren’t the typical fall colors found at McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens in Redding, but they’re part of the picture this year. 

A wildfire sprang to life Aug. 26 on Sulphur Creek Hill, hopped over North Market Street and raced through part of the arboretum at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Some plants were incinerated, others scorched and a few squashed by fire-fighting equipment.

Wind pushed the 130-acre fire, which came within 20 yards of the Sundial Bridge, onto the northwest side of the arboretum. Firefighters responded quickly and most of the arboretum didn’t burn. Turtle Bay officials say 20 percent of the developed gardens were damaged and approximately a third of the arboretum’s natural oak woodland burned.

“It could have been so much worse,” said Lisa Endicott, horticulture manager at Turtle Bay. “It could have taken the whole savannah. It could have taken all of the gardens.”

The 200-acre arboretum is a natural area along the Sacramento River filled with oaks, cottonwoods, manzanita and other native plants. Fenced within the arboretum are the botanical gardens, which require admission to view. They include California natives; hardy plants from Chile, Australia, South Africa and other countries; and other plants in display gardens.

Oregon: Update on Wizard escaped fire

An excerpt from kohd.com

…The fire is estimated at 200 to 250 acres, but it’s difficult for fire crews to get an exact size because of all the smoke in the air. In the campgrounds campers didn’t notice any air quality changes until 24 hours after the fire broke out. “We thought the fire was out, it was such a nice morning everything was clear,” said Brick. 

By Friday afternoon the US Forest Service says the fire is about 15 percent contained. Some are wondering why a controlled burn would be scheduled during fire season. The Forest Service says it does controlled burns in the fall in areas already treated. This particular fire started in an area treated three times before in the past 20 years. it was considered a managable risk. “From a technical standpoint it was not a very complex burn and the perscribed burn on it actually got pulled off very successfully on Wednesday afternoon. The escape happened the next day when it was really in patrol status when it escpaed,” said Anthony.

The Forest Service says it’ll do a thorough review to prevent another controlled burn from jumping again.

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