Wildfire news, June 11, 2009

747 air tanker puts on demonstration in Sacramento

The demonstration of Evergreen’s 747 “Supertanker” that Wildfire Today told you about yesterday occurred as planned today in Sacramento.


Lightning-struck giant sequoia

USFS photos

Lightning struck this tree in the Giant Sequoia National Monument in California and blew off the top 60 feet. When firefighters arrived at what became the Burton fire on June 1, the 12-foot diameter hollow tree was burning from the base all the way to the top, along with 1/10 of an acre around it.

After considering various methods of putting out the fire, they decided discretion was the better part of valor, and confine/contain was the chosen strategy. By using natural barriers they established a fireline around the tree to encompass about 2 acres.

New fire policy, managing for multiple objectives

An article in the Great Falls (Montana) Tribune explains pretty well the new policy for federal land managers which allows individual fires to be managed for multiple objectives.

Here is an excerpt from the article which centers around an open house hosted by the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Great Falls Montana.

Under the old policy, fires either had to be declared “resource benefit” or “suppression,” but not both, tying the hands of fire managers.

“It will do a lot to restore the ecology of fire-dependent ecosystems where we’re allowed to do it,” said Jim Homison, another forest zone fire management officer.

Unlike the Rocky Mountain Division, managing for resource benefits has never occurred in the Jefferson Division, with suppression being the official policy since the 1930s.

Jefferson Division includes the Little Belt, Highwood, Big and Little Snowy, Castle and Crazy mountains.

In addition to the federal policy change, a local desire to implement resource benefits management also led to the change in local policy, Secrest said.

Under the resource benefits approach, fires are allowed to burn — under the right conditions — to rejuvenate the forest and reduce dangerous fuel loads, which can lead to huge wildfires, Secrest said.

Under the new plan, managers have the option of managing fires for resource benefits on 651,000 acres of the 1 million-acre Jefferson Division, where the risk to homes or people is minimal, forest managers said.

Trout evacuated from fire in New Mexico

Gila trou

Biologists and firefighters evacuated 250 Gila trout, ta threatened species, from a creek in southwestern New Mexico because the area may be burned in the Meason fire. The wildland fire used for resource benefit is still two miles away, but since full suppression is not the objective biologists felt the fish could be in jeopardy.

Firefighters and biologists rode on horseback to the creek and then used electroshock devices to stun the fish, scooped them up and placed them into a large bucket which was then flown out by helicopter. The fish will be relocated to a hatchery in northern New Mexico.

The Meason fire has burned 3,641 acres on the Gila National Forest 35 miles north of Silver City, NM.

Obama nominates Sam Hamilton to be Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Sam Hamilton, FWS photo

Yesterday Wildfire Today reported that a Mississippi native, Bob Abbey was nominated to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management. Now Obama has nominated another person from the state, Sam Hamilton, to be the new Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mr. Hamilton, a Mississippi State University graduate (go Bulldogs!), is a career biologist and has been director of the USF&WS Southeast Region for the last 12 years. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.

Earlier this week we reported that another Mississipian, Homer Lee Wilkes, President Obama’s choice to be the Undersecretary of Agriculture, changed his mind about accepting that position.

New fire chief for Santa Barbara County fire department

Chief Michael W. Dyer

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors Wednesday announced the appointment of Michael W. Dyer as the new chief of the fire department. Chief Dyer has been the Deputy Chief of the Los Angeles County FD since 2006 and has more than 30 years of firefighting experience.

But here is something in a press release from Santa Barbara County that I found fascinating about the the Los Angeles County FD. I knew it was a large organization, but did not realize HOW large. Remember, it’s just one COUNTY, and the fire department’s jurisdiction does not include the city of Los Angeles or the other incorporated cities:

Los Angeles County is one of the nation’s largest counties with more than 4,080 square miles and a population of more than 10 million people. More than 65 percent of the County is unincorporated, falling within the department’s 2,278-square-mile coverage area. The Department maintains about 167 fire stations with 242 fire engines, 32 ladder trucks, 85 paramedic units, seven helicopters, 11 wildland fire camps and numerous other specialized vehicles and facilities.

3 thoughts on “Wildfire news, June 11, 2009”

  1. What is the danger of a hollow oak tree with a fire on the inside exploding or causing tree around it to burn?

    1. Elsie-

      Burning trees don’t explode except in books and movies. But most of the time, a hollow tree that is burning on the interior will eventually burn more and more of the wood, weakening the tree to the point where it will fall. But occasionally, the fire inside a burning hollow tree will go out and the tree will remain standing.

      It is dangerous for firefighters to work near trees like this, because of the possibility that the tree will fall.

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