Wildfire news, April 20, 2009

Firefighters can expect more potent poison ivy

poison ivy
Poison Ivy, Toxicodendron radicans

Poison ivy can be the bane of a wildland firefighter.  For those that are susceptable, getting a bad case of the rash on a long fire assignment can be extremely uncomfortable and can even lead to having to take sick leave while it heals.

The bad news is that climate change and the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are like plant food to poison ivy.  And not only that, the extra CO2 causes the plants to produce more, and stronger, levels of urushiol, the nasty stuff that causes the allergic reaction.

And this is not just predicting the future, like rising sea levels in the year 2100. Differences can already be seen between the poison ivy of today and the plants that grew 50 years ago.

From an article on BoingBoing by Maggie Koerth-Baker.


Minnesota air tankers migrate during the winter

The winters in Minnesota are cold, snowy and wet–not ideal conditions for off-season maintenance of an air tanker.  So the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ two CL-215 superscooper’s migrate to Arizona each winter.  But now that the state is back in fire season, the air tankers are back on the job. WCCO.com has more details.

Firefighting in Spain

Juan Caamano is a Forestry Engineer Specialist in wildland fire management working in Spain for the Ministry of Environment, the Environmental Agency of the province of Madrid.  Juan has a blog called where he covers firefighting in Spain and also some of the education and training he has completed.  You should check it out, but here is an excerpt about his degree obtained at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in Spain:

Forestry Engineering in Spain, is a six years degree, and it is compulsory to complete a thesis at the end of the last course. It is equivalent to a bachelor´s plus a master´s in forest Engineering, and the thesis is equivalent to the master thesis.

It is divided in two cycles lasting three years each: the first one is equivalent to the bachelor (but lasting three years instead of four) and the subjects are all the same for all students (in the first course, the subjects are almost the same in all the Engineering degrees in Spain). The last three years are the specialization courses, being equivalent to a master´s degree.

Here is a video Juan links to that shows the work of a helicopter-transported initial attack crew.  The video is very well done.


Christmas fire

A fire near Christmas, Florida burned about 400 acres and caused the evacuation of 20 homes.

According to WESH.com,

The blaze flared up early Monday morning along East Orlando Road after consuming more than 400 acres over the weekend. It was first reported on Saturday morning.

Thanks, Chuck.

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