Wildfire News, November 28, 2010

Prescribed fire in South Carolina’s state forests

ATV prescribed burning SC State Forest
James Douglas uses an ignition device on an ATV during a prescribed fire. Photo: R. Darren Price / The Item

TheItem.com has an article about prescribed fire in the state forests of South Carolina. Here is an excerpt:

…Right now, [Forest director Harvey] Belser said the foresters are in the process of burning grasslands to plant longleaf pine, a tree native to the Carolinas, to replace slash pine, a Gulf Coast species susceptible to disease, wind and ice breakage. And, according to state Department of Natural Resources, longleaf pine thrives in a fresh-burned forest floor.

The trees planted will one day be chopped down and sold – but Belser said it was an important step nonetheless. “It’s critical these plants are planted to the correct depth,” Belser said.

So, [Charlie] Scruggs and the other firefighters got to work getting things ready.

Controlled burns are more science than pyrotechnics, said [James] Douglas. After spraying an area with herbicide six weeks before the burn, the forest has to get a fire permit and wait for a day when the wind and humidity are not too high. Then the group figures out what type of fire they plan to light based on the plants and brush in a burn area, which they call “fuel.” For a grassland like the one burned Nov. 19, they light a fire at one end of the tract and let a light breeze blow the fire to the other end. For that kind of burn, Douglas said the entire area will be completely burned after just a few hours, and they can start planting as soon as the ground cools off.

“We’ll probably plant this field in the next couple of weeks,” he said of the singed grassland.

Volunteer firefighters

CBS News “Sunday Morning” had a very good segment about volunteer firefighters. The video is below, and here is a transcript. It’s worth viewing and reading.

WUI meeting in Washington, DC

The West Yellowstone News has an article about the National Wildland/Urban Interface Council’s fall meeting in DC. They interviewed Hebgen Basin Fire District Chief Scott Walron about the meeting and how their fire district west of Yellowstone National Park is dealing with the WUI.

Canada gets new air tankers.

Manitoba just received the first of four new CL-415 air tankers. (Wow. A government agency using brand new, purpose-built air tankers, instead of 60-year-old aircraft previously thrown away by the millitary. What a concept!)

More details about the fatal crash of the firefighters’ crew carrier

Corinna Craddock has a well-written article about the crash of the inmate crew carrier in which one firefighter, Julio Sanchez, and the driver of a second vehicle were killed. Here is an excerpt:

…The fact that [Julio] Sanchez and the rest of his crew were serving a court-ordered sentence at the time Sanchez was killed is a fact with little relevance. The reality is that when men go to camp where they are trained to fight wildfires, this is what they become. Sanchez was a firefighter.

Men who sleep on the side of a mountain in order to continue battling the blaze of a wildfire when they awake once again are men who know that there is no such thing as being an “almost firefighter” any more than it is possible for a woman to be “almost pregnant.” It is just one of the all-or-nothing things in life. This is why inmates who are trained to fight fires must undergo the same feats of endurance, strength, and perseverance that every American firefighter is trained for.

Firefighting is not for weak Americans. There is the kind of stress on a firefighter’s heart that is something akin to being in combat when a team of firefighters tackle such a threat to life. What some of these men will take away once the fire dies is the image of wild rabbits running ablaze. This is the sight that broke my own father’s heart more than once as he explained to me how he had no other choice but to hit an animal with his shovel hard enough to put it out of its misery rather than watch it suffer as it died. Anyone who knows a cat-lover, such as my dad was, might be able to imagine how a six-foot-four man could be hurt watching a tiny creature suffer.

Norman Paraiso, in a comment on our article about the accident, provided more information:

Thank you to all our family and friends who send their love, thoughts, and prayers in our most recent loss. Fernando Julio Sanchez, youngest child of Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, lost his life on 11-23-10 in a Tragic car accident while serving as a Firefighter for Cal Fire.

Services will be held on Wednesday (12/1) at 2200 Highland Ave in National City at California Cremation and Burial between 3pm-9pm.

Funeral will begin at 11:00 am on Thursday (12/2) at California Cremation and Burial. funeral will take place at Holy Cross Cemetary followed with a Celebration of Life at the Centro Cultural de la Raza, 2004 Park Blvd.

Donations can be mailed to: Ramon Sanchez 6367 Radio Dr, San Diego, Ca 92114.

Book about the Fourmile fire will help rebuild fire station

The proceeds from a new book about the Fourmile fire, which was near Boulder, Colorado last September, will go toward rebuilding a fire station that burned during the fire.

Thanks Norman and Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.