Wildfire news, March 24, 2009

Salem, NC fatality

From the International Association of Wildland Fire’s FireNet:

IAWF has received notice of the following wildland firefighter fatality from the US Fire Administration:

Name: Gregory Carroll Cooke
Rank: Firefighter
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Status: Volunteer
Years of Service: 20
Date of Incident: 02/20/2009
Time of Incident: Unknown, late in the week of 03/16/09
Date of Death: 03/21/2009
Fire Department: Salem Volunteer Fire Department
Address: 4559 Swift Creek School RD, Whitakers, NC 27891
Fire Department Chief: Paul Powell

Incident Description: Late in the week of 03/16/09, Firefighter Cooke was working at a woods fire when he went into cardiac arrest. He was transported by air to the Wake Medical Center in Raleigh, NC. On Saturday, 3/21/09, Firefighter Cooke passed away.

Our condolences for Mr. Cooke’s family and co-workers.

Three charged with arson in setting East Texas fires

From Chron.com:

Three Eastland County residents have been charged with five counts of arson and one count of organized criminal activity in connection with a series of West Texas wildfires that destroyed five structures in Eastland and Callahan counties.

The Texas Forest Service said in a statement Monday that Christina Utley, 20, of Ranger, Brian Freeman, 23, and Michael Thomas, 24, both of Cisco, were being held at the Eastland County Jail on bails totaling $87,500. A jail official said Monday night he did not know whether the three, who were arrested Sunday, had attorneys.

Forestry officials said the three were initially arrested for fighting and public intoxication but the investigation turned to Sunday’s deliberately set fires after Cisco Police Department found suspicious items in their vehicle.

Forestry officials were still fighting the blazes that had burned at least 270 acres.

San Diego replaces their reverse 911 system

After the Cedar and other large fires near San Diego in 2007 there were some complaints that the reverse 911 system that calls thousands of phone numbers in an emergency did not perform as well as expected. Earlier this month the city of San Diego switched from the “Reverse 9-1-1” system to a new system the city calls “AlertSanDiego” powered by Twenty First Century Communications. Home phones are automatically registered, but the mayor is advising owners of cell phones and Voice over IP (VoIP) phones to register them at the city’s web site.

Senator Udall introduces bill to divert fines to land management agencies

Senator Mark Udall has introduced a bill that would redirect funds that are collected for illegally damaging public lands to the federal agencies that are responsible for restoring the damage. Currently fines are simply deposited into the U.S. Treasury, but if someone pays a fine for starting a fire, for example, the bill would specify that the funds go to the agency on whose land the fire occurred.

Opinion on bushfire management in Australia

A speech made by John Underwood about the management of bushfires in Australia may also have some applicability in much of the rest of the world. You should read the entire text HERE, but here is one paragraph:

The catastrophic bushfires in Victoria this year, and the other great fires of recent years in Victoria, New South Wales, the ACT and South Australia are dramatic expressions not just of killing forces unleashed, but of human folly. No less than the foolish strategies of the World War I Generals, these bushfires and their outcomes speak of incompetent leadership and of failed imaginations. Most unforgivable of all, they demonstrate the inability of people in powerful and influential positions to profit from the lessons of history and to heed the wisdom of experience.

Firefighter close call, manure pit

From FirefighterCloseCalls:

A Firefighter battling a grass fire in northern New York fell into a manure pit and was rescued from possible drowning. Depauville FD recruit Kevin Zoll saved the 6-year veteran Ernest Ross on Friday at a farm in Clayton. Ross was cutting across a field toward a building where flames were spreading when he fell into an unmarked manure pit….it was covered with straw and looked like the field. FF Zoll crawled to the edge of the pit, reached out with a broom handle and pulled Ross in. Ross says that saved his life, than in a few minutes he would have been submerged. Dry and windy conditions led to multiple calls about grass fires.

Thanks Dick.