Wildfire news, May 27, 2011

San Diego Co firefighters

Updated at 10:15 a.m. May 27, 2011

Listening session about fire retardant held at Missoula, MT

On Thursday a “listening session” was held in Missoula to gather comments about the draft environmental impact statement for the use of fire retardant. One of the alternatives includes new rules for mapping areas, primarily around water courses, that should be avoided due to the possible adverse effects on sensitive species. If this alternative is chosen as written, about 3.5 million acres of Montana’s 16.8 million acres of national forest land would be excluded from retardant use because of waterway buffer zones. The Missoulian has more details about yesterdays’ meeting. Wildfire Today has information about the draft retardant EIS here.

San Diego police and firefighters dispatched to fire in New Mexico

San Diego Co firefighters
Eight of the nine members of the county's Regional Emergency Response Team are photographed prior to leaving for New Mexico Thursday. Photo: County of San Diego

A mixed group of nine firefighters and police officers from San Diego County left Thursday to work on the 86,000-acre Miller fire on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. From the article at Signon San Diego it appears that they are members of the county’s new all-hazards incident management team which was formed last year. Here is an excerpt from the article:

…Officers from the El Cajon and San Diego police departments deployed as well as firefighters from the San Diego, Heartland, Chula Vista, Carlsbad, Escondido, Coronado and San Miguel fire departments, said Yvette Urrea Moe, a spokeswoman for the county’s Office of Emergency Services.

The goal is to train the team in joint emergency response for when a large-scale incident occurs here, Moe said. Firefighters and police have little opportunity to train together unless there there are disasters, she said, like the county experienced with the wildfires in 2003 and 2007.

“It’s an opportunity to learn to manage on some of these large scale incidents and not have to wait for something to happen here,” said San Diego police Sgt. Scott Wahl, one of the officers going to New Mexico.

San Diego fire Capt. Dave Gerboth, who also is headed to the fire, said getting to cross train and work with law enforcement “lays the foundation for a regional response,” when one happens locally.

The county’s all-hazards incident management team was formed last year. It has 36 members from police and fire agencies as well as emergency medical services, public works and public health.

Experts ponder environmental fallout from burned homes in Slave Lake fire

An article in The Canadian Press covers the possible environmental effects from the 400 lots that burned in the Slave Lake wildfire two weeks ago.  An excerpt:

The flames have been beaten back from Slave Lake in northern Alberta.

But as residents slowly return to their fire-scarred town, scientists are wondering about the environmental legacy of a blaze that consumed hundreds of homes and businesses — and everything in them.

“If there’s a really heavy fire and you burn up plastic … you’ll end up with some of that residual, partially burnt plastic in the soil,” said Anne Naeth, a biologist and expert in land reclamation at the University of Alberta.

Studies have been done on what happens when materials such as vinyl siding are burned, but there’s little research on what’s left behind from large-scale conflagrations. And large-scale certainly describes what happened in Slave Lake.

More than 400 lots were either levelled or badly damaged. Entire neighbourhoods were burned to their foundations. Dozens of vehicles were reduced to metal skeletons. Gas stations exploded.

“I would expect all sorts of nasty toxins, both inorganic and organic,” said David Schindler, an ecologist at the University of Alberta.

Bears are attracted to the rotting food following the Slave Lake fire

The residents that are returning to Slave Lake are encountering bears that are attracted to the food that is rotting in refrigerators and freezers that were without power for more than a week.

When our incident management team was dealing with the response and recovery from Hurricane Andrew in the four south Florida national parks in 1992, we had a version of that problem. Rotting food in National Park Service facilities, but thankfully no bears; just every kind of insect you can imagine — and an odor that you can’t. Some of the researchers had been fond of the practice of saving the carcasses of road killed animals in freezers. After careful analysis, we decided that our best option was to call in a HazMat team to haul away and dispose of all of the refrigerators, freezers, and their contents.

Wildfire burns thousands of acres on Spanish island of Ibiza

Ibiza fire

The largest fire in recorded history on the Spanish island of Ibiza (map) has burned 3,700 acres of pine forest and forced the evacuation of 80 homes and a school.

Texas firefighter suffers burns

From OA online:

A Kermit firefighter was reported in stable condition after he was airlifted to the University Medical Center Burn Center in Lubbock Tuesday after he suffered injuries battling one of the three fires that sprung up in the Permian Basin Tuesday evening.

A family member at the burn unit identified the firefighter as Hunter Hardaway and would not comment on more than his condition.

Hunter was battling the YT Ranch fire, one of three that sprung up Tuesday. Starting near Highway 115, the fire burned towards the Caprock before it was finally extinguished. The Texas Forest Service estimated the fire at 2,800 acres.

Bennie Cope, the Goldsmith Volunteer Fire Chief, said the fire wasn’t fully put out until 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.



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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.