Wildfire news, July 8, 2009

After 90 years, Whitefish, MT fire siren is silent

The Whitefish, MT fire siren. Lifo Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon photo

After 90 years of summoning volunteer firefighters to staff the fire engines, the siren in Whitefish, Montana is being shut down because it exceeded the noise levels issued by OSHA and the NFPA. Whitefish fire chief Tom Kennelly said the noise was too loud for the full time staff that now reside in the fire station, just 20 feet from the siren’s many horns.

More information

History of firefighting helicopters

Forest protection supervisor Jack Dillon experiments with a water nozzle in a Bell 47D-1 owned by the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests around the early 1950s. The pilot is Shorty Ferguson. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Photo

Verticle On Line, “The Pulse of the Helicopter Industry”, has an interesting article about the history of helicopters used in fighting fire.

Charles Barkley donates to fire victims

Ex-NBA star Charles Barkley has donated another large sum of money to the victims of the June, 2007 Angora fire which destroyed over 250 homes. A year ago Mr. Barkley gave $100,000 to South Tahoe’s Commuinity Disaster Resource Center. Last week the center received another check from him, this time for $90,000. Shortly after the 2007 fire, Mr. Barkley hosted a dinner for 100 firefighters.

Study: No increased wildfire risk in spotted owl habitat

From the AP:

A new study challenges a basic justification about the threat of wildfires that the Bush administration used to make room for more logging in old growth forests that are home to the northern spotted owl.

The study, appearing in the journal Conservation Biology, found no increasing threat of severe wildfires destroying old growth forests in the drier areas where the owl lives in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.

“The argument used to justify a massive increase in logging under the (spotted owl) recovery program was not based on sound science,” said Chad T. Hanson, a fire and forest ecologist at the University of California, Davis, who was lead author of the study. “The recovery plan took a leap-before-you-look approach and did it without sound data.”

Li’l Smokey children’s book published

Adam Deem, the CalFire firefighter who found and rescued the injured bear cub on the northern California fire last year has written a children’s book about the bear. The book costs $11.99 and Mr. Deem says a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, where “Li’l Smokey” was nursed back to health.

Snags on the Backbone fire

Six Rivers National Forest photo

The Backbone fire, which is being managed by the Atlanta National Incident Management Organization team, is in an area that burned in the 1999 Megram fire. Snags are one of the hazards faced by the firefighters. The fire has burned 4,584 acres in the Trinity Alps Wilderness in northern California and is 25% contained.

Embers burn more homes than flame impingement on some wildfires

The Missoulian has an article about the study completed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology which Wildfire Today first told you about on June 19.

Here is a brief excerpt:

The report found that “out of the 74 destroyed structures, 38 were on the perimeter and the remaining 36 in the interior of the community.”

“Forty percent of homes on the perimeter were destroyed, compared to 20 percent in the interior. In the interior of the community, structure losses were a result of exposure to embers generated from burning wildland and residential vegetation and structural fuels,” according to the report.

Storing carbon vs. thinning forests

A new study concludes that forests are a great way to store carbon to offset global warming, but scientists say thinning would reduce this beneficial effect.

Thanks Dick and Kelly.