Wildfire news, January 25, 2011

Crash of UAV starts fire in Arizona

An unmanned aerial vehicle crashed and started a vegetation fire shortly after taking off from Fort Huachuca in southeast Arizona Monday night.

Shadow RQ-7 UAV
File photo of Shadow RQ-7 UAV. Photo by Jerome Dawson.

According to reports the fire burned about two acres.

The Shadow is 11.2 feet long and has a wingspan of 14 feet. It is powered by a 38 hp rotary Wankel engine. (I thought those Wankel engines went out with the Mazda RX-7.)

Here are the performance characteristics of the Shadow:

  • Maximum speed: 135 mph; 118 kn (218 km/h)
  • Cruising speed: 103 mph; 90 kn (166 km/h)
  • Range: 68 mi (59 nmi; 109 km)
  • Endurance: 6 hours
  • Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,572 m) ELOS (Electronic Line Of Sight)

500 acre fire in Colorado

Firefighters on Ft. Carson south of Colorado Springs, Colorado Tuesday afternoon are working on a brush fire that began in the base’s training area. It started at about 10:45 a.m. and as of 4 p.m. has burned about 500 acres and is 60% contained. They expect to have it fully contained by Tuesday night.

National Weather Service discovers conditions under which large fires occur in Texas

The National Weather Service in Texas conducted a study to determine under what conditions the largest and deadliest wildfires have occurred.

Here is an excerpt from an article at the Amarillo Globe-News:

In just five years, the Forest Service charted 10 firestorms, including a deadly 2006 blaze that burned 1.1 million acres, mostly in Hutchinson County. In all, those firestorms destroyed 2.5 million acres and 1,065 structures and killed 22 people, the Forest Service reports.

“It’s just a large-scale weather pattern that supports violent outbreaks of wildfire across the southern Plains,” said Todd Lindley, a meteorologist based in Lubbock.

The study analyzed 2005 and 2006 wildfire outbreaks across Texas, eastern New Mexico and Oklahoma. Texas Forest Service officials said they’ll be able to pinpoint several days in advance when wildfires are likely in the South Plains, eastern New Mexico, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Oklahoma and the Texas Hill Country.

Each of the fires the weather service studied were sparked under conditions of low humidity, abnormally high temperatures, dry air masses and intense winds, Lindley said.

“We knew if we studied these events we could come up with a recognizable pattern and be able to predict these events in the future,” Lindley said. “We’ve had some stunning success.”

(My first thought is that I could have saved them a lot of time and money. However, I’m sure the study provided more specific details than these reported by the newspaper.)

UPDATE Jan 28, 2011

We received an email from Todd Lindley of the Lubock, Texas National Weather Service office, who, of course, confirmed that there was much more to the study of the Texas weather than was revealed in the newspaper article. Mr. Lindley pointed us to a paper, co-written by himself and three others, that was just finalized on January 24, 2011 and published in the Electronic Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology. It analyzes the relationship of wind-driven wildfires, relative humidity and wind speed.

Here is one graphic from the 27-page paper.

Texas fire weather study
WTM = West Texas Mesonet; RFW = Red Flag Warning

Another study on the fire weather in Texas is HERE.

Thanks Todd

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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.