Wildfire news, November 13, 2008

Report says fires more of a threat to old growth than logging

From the Bend Bulletin:

Threats to old-growth trees in the region’s federal forests have changed over the decade and a half since the Northwest Forest Plan went into effect in 1994. While logging of the big, old trees has dropped dramatically since the plan, wildfires are now consuming more acres of the valuable habitat. 

That switch, reinforced by numbers from a new study by U.S. Forest Service scientists and others, means forest managers need to take action across the landscape to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, according to the authors.

The researchers, including people from other federal research stations and Oregon State University, used satellite images from between 1972 and 2002 to track what was happening to forests with trees bigger than 20 inches across.

They found that loggers cut an increasing amount of large trees on federal lands from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, but then activity abruptly fell off after the late 1990s.

BDF Engine 56 crash

From FirefighterCloseCalls:

On October 3rd, 2008, at approximately 1940 hrs., a Strike Team made up of 4 BDF (San Bernardino National Forest in southern California) engines and 1 BLM (Bureau of Land Management) engine were traveling from the ICP to their night shift assignment. While in a curve, the right rear wheels of Engine #56 ran off the roadway and caught a four to six inch drop between the asphalt and shoulder. 

The driver attempted to correct the situation, resulting in the engine veering across the road, hitting a dirt embankment and rolling over on the left hand side of the road. The engine landed on the passenger side.

The five crew members were treated on scene and transported by ground ambulance to Mee Memorial Hospital in King City, CA. All crew members were treated and released with minor injuries. There were no other vehicles involved. The road was paved, dry, and clear.

The engine is undergoing a complete mechanical inspection & cost repair estimate. A Regional Accident Prevention Analysis Team (APA) has been assigned and is in the process of gathering information.

Maryland brush truck destroyed on wildland fire

From FirefighterCloseCalls:

In Prince Georges County, MD, the Baden VFD 4-wheel drive Jeep brush unit was involved in a single vehicle crash around 2:15 PM, Wednesday, November 12, 2008. Fortunately, there were no injuries, however, the vehicle was destroyed by the fire it was responding to extinguish. 

The 1978 CJ5 Jeep, designed to battle outside fires in difficult off-road terrain and wooded areas, responded from the Baden Fire/EMS Station to a reported field fire in the 16300 Block of Aquasco Road in Aquasco. A hay baler had accidentally ignited dry hay and the fire started to quickly spread.

As the brush unit approached the scene, smoke from the fire was lying close to the ground. The smoke obscured the view of the driver and a large rolled bale of hay was in the path of the unit. The brush unit, with two seat-belted firefighters on-board, struck the bale and rolled onto its side directly into the seat of the field fire.

The vehicle quickly was overcome by the fire, however, both firefighters escaped unharmed. Additional units responded to the scene to extinguish the fire.

As is standard procedure, the operator of the vehicle went through a post accident substance screening. The vehicle is considered a total loss.

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