Wildfire news, October 31, 2008

Wyoming: fire inside missile silo

A fire inside an unmanned live nuclear missile silo on May 23, 40 miles east of Cheyenne, Wyoming was discovered by the Air Force five days after it did $1 million in damage and self-extinguished. The Air Force would not confirm that the Minuteman III multiple-warhead nuclear missile was armed with a nuclear warhead when the fire occurred. The fire was not in the launch tube where the missile stood.

Here is an excerpt from an article in the Greeley Tribune:

Many of the missile silos in Weld County are in the New Raymer Fire District. The fire department covers 1,100 square miles and has dozens of missile silos within its boundaries.

“Our department has been trained about missile silos and fire,” said new Raymer Fire Chief Cyle Lambert. “The Air Force comes out and trains us, but they pretty much say they’re in charge if there’s a fire.”

Lambert said firefighters in New Raymer are only trained to respond to the manned silos — there are two of them in the fire protection district — and they are not to respond to the unmanned silos. The arrangement for missile silos is to have one manned silo commanding the launch of as many as 10 unmanned silos.

“Probably our biggest worry about the silo fires,” Lambert said, “is that a wildland fire could spread over a silo. But we’ve been assured it wouldn’t cause any kind of serious accident.”

Arellano says the fire was caused by a faulty battery and extinguished itself from a lack of fuel after an hour or two. It burned a box of shotgun shells, a shotgun and a shotgun case that were kept in the room, but the Air Force investigative report did not mention any debris from the shells, Arellano said.

Damage was estimated at $1 million, including replacing damaged equipment and cleanup.

It took five days to discover this fire that did $1 million in damage in a Minuteman III multiple-warhead atomic missile silo? Holy Crap! And it burned a box of shotgun shells?

This is one of 60 similar silos in Weld County, Wyoming. I’m sure the other 59 are monitored much more efficiently. Those other 59 might even have fire alarms so headquarters would know if a damn Minuteman III multiple-warhead nuclear missile silo was on fire!

Sleep well my friends.

Greece: First Aerial Firefighting conference held

From Aero-News.net

Organizers say the Aerial Firefighting Conference 2008, which took place in Athens, Greece on October 22-23, was highly successful. Organized by Tangent Link Ltd, the first annual conference was attended by twenty-two nations.

The conference was chaired by Johann Goldhammer of the Global Fire Monitoring Center and Rear Admiral Terry Loughran. The agenda included fixed and rotary winged operations, safety, management and technologies; subjects which dominated the vibrant conference.

Many interagency meetings ensued to discuss and debate how to tackle wildfires from the air and how international aerial fire fighting management organizations can improve and share their knowledge and systems. An exhibition of some of the worlds’ leading operators and suppliers was held simultaneously; the exhibition drew considerable interest from the delegates and provided a focal point for many of the accompanying discussions.

Panel sessions took place on Air Pollution from Aerial Firefighting and a debate was hosted by Chris Allen from the EU-Civil Protection Directorate on whether Europe should finance a cross-border aerial fire fighting squadron. Leading exponents took part in the debate including Tom Harbour, Director, Aviation United States Forest Service (USFS, USA), Shane Fitzsimmonds, Commissioner NSW Rural Fire Service (Australia), Dave Bokovay, Aviation Manager CIFFC (Canada) and Colonel Fernando Pastor Villar, Commander 43rd Group Spanish Air Force (Spain).

Two new upcoming events were announced at the conference. The Aerial Firefighting USA Conference is scheduled to take place in Anaheim, CA on February 19-20, 2009 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The event is supported by UN-ISDR and the Global Fire Monitoring Center, and sponsored by Bombardier.

The second event is a one-day Aerial Firefighting Australasia Conference taking place in conjunction with the New South Wales Rural Fire Services’ “International Wildfire Management Conference 2009” taking place in Sydney, Australia — the largest fire fighting management event of its kind in the Australasia region.

California: Power company shelves plans to cut power during high fire danger

San Diego Gas and Electric, a company whose power lines are blamed for starting multiple very large wildland fires, has postponed until next year plans to turn off the power to large sections of San Diego County during periods of high fire danger. Wildfire Today covered this story earlier HERE.

This is their proposed map of areas that could lose power.

This week the Commission announced that no rules exist to prevent the utility from shutting off the electricity. But they said they want to review the plan which would shut off power to 45,000 citizens. SDG&E still hopes to be able to turn off the power as they wish next year.

We wrote on October 4:

As far as we know, this is an unprecedented plan, turning off power to large areas because the lines may start a fire during strong winds. They may be hoping that by scaring the public about losing their power, the state legislature will exempt the company from liability.

The scare-the-public tactic works for the Bush administration. It may work for SDG&E.

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