Wildfire news, February 12, 2009

Prepare, Stay and Defend OR Go Early–Nevada and California

In light of the 200+ deaths in the recent “Black Saturday” fires in Australia, some of the “Prepare, Stay and Defend OR Go Early” programs being implemented or considered in the United States are being looked at closely. The International Association of Fire Chiefs is for the concept, while the International Association of Fire Fighters is against it. (Note: the IAFC removed their document from their web site.)

In Nevada, Kurt Ladipow, Washoe County fire services coordinator, said of the plan they have been working on:

“Are we having second thoughts? In my opinion, we are not.”

In Ventura County, California, Bob Roper, a fire chief who also chairs the IAFC’s Wildland Fire Policy Committee said:

“Right now, there’s not enough information as to exactly what happened, why it happened or what caused the deaths. A light bulb has come on that says we really need to look at what happened over there.”

Esperanza fire trial

On Wednesday jurors were shown about an hour of a video of Raymond Lee Oyler being interviewed at the Cabazon sheriff’s station on October 27, 2006 the day after the fire started. Investigators were led to Oyler after seeing his car going to and from the origin of a fire on October 22, 2006 in video shot by a hidden camera.

Oyler is on trial for setting the Esperanza and 22 other fires in 2006. Five U.S. Forest Service firefighters died in the Esperanza fire.

The Press-Enterprise has excellent coverage of the trial.

West Virginia man dies in brush fire

From the State Journal:

A Pocahontas County man was killed while burning brush. The state fire marshal’s office confirms one man was killed in a brush fire in Marlinton. Officials say the fire was less than 10-acres.

The man’s name has not been released but investigators say it appears he was burning brush around his house when the fire got out of control.

The Division of Forestry responded. It took about 3 hours to get control of the fire.

Investigators say it’s been several years since West Virginia has seen a death as a result of a brush fire.

Del Walters named new director of CalFire

Del Walters, new CalFire Director
Del Walters, new CalFire Director

Del Walters, 54, of Redding, California, has been appointed director of CalFire, replacing the retiring Ruben Grijalva. Mr. Walters has worked for CalFire for 30 years and has been their Executive Officer since 2008. Before taking that position, he was the Staff Chief of the Northern Region.