Wildfire News, November 16, 2011

Zaca Fire

Ranch owners agree to pay $17 million for Zaca fire

Zaca Fire
Zaca Fire, near Santa Barbara, California, in 2007. Credit: U.S. Forest Service by John Newman

The owners of a ranch have agreed to pay $17 million for the costs of suppressing the Zaca fire.

On July 4, 2007 Ranch hands working for the La Laguna Ranch in Santa Barbara County in southern California accidentally started the Zaca fire that by August 31 had burned 240,207 acres, making it California’s second largest fire in recorded history after the Cedar Fire of 2003.

According to the agreement, the ranch owners admitted no wrongdoing and will pay $14 million to the federal government and $3 million to the state. When the fire was contained on September 2, the suppression costs totaled $117 million.

The two ranch hands who started the fire by using a grinder to repair a water pipe were originally charged with five felony counts, but those charges were thrown out by Judge Zel Canter who determined the workers’ actions didn’t amount to recklessness. Canter explained that firefighters used the fire as a resource management tool, so the two who started the fire were no longer responsible. One of the ranch hands pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and paid a $200 fine and was directed to make a fire safety video paid for by Rancho La Laguna.


Texas Forest Service and Incident Management Teams honored for response to Bastrop fire

Here is an excerpt from a press release issued by the Texas Forest Service:

November 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Texas Forest Service was honored this week with a Government Excellence Award for its response to the devastating Bastrop wildfire.

The award was presented Monday evening at the Government Security News 2011 Homeland Security Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.

Texas Forest Service, along with Bastrop County Unified Command, Boise National Incident Management Organization Team and Type 1 Southern Area Red Team won the award for most notable emergency response implementation by a federal, state or local entity. The group was recognized for “evacuating homes ahead of the raging wildfires that swept through Central Texas.”

The Bastrop complex of fires ignited on Labor Day weekend, burning more than 34,000 acres and destroying 1,649 homes.


Wildfire triggers land mine blasts

A fire that started in Pakistan and burned across the border into the Poonch district of India triggered the explosions of seven land mines in the Line of Control, Indian officials said on Tuesday.


Federal forests are becoming a “substantial liability”

Hal Salwasser
Hal Salwasser

Hal Salwasser, dean of the Oregon State College of Forestry, expressed his opinion about national forests in a speech October 13 at a meeting of the the Society of American Foresters:

The current costs of holding federal forests as a government managed public trust far exceed the revenues generated, and expenses related to fire management exceed all other investment needs. Who pays the bills? Every American taxpayer does. Who bears the impacts? Mostly local people and communities in areas near the forests. This is hardly an equitable condition and certainly out of alignment with the social contract between urban and rural America that began eroding in the 1980s. Counties across the west are left begging for a federal welfare check in lieu of revenues from sustainable economic activities on federal forests and they do not get federal timber-related jobs and indirect businesses with the welfare check. Meanwhile, the trees keep growing and, in fire-prone forests dying, victims of climate change, invasive species, uncharacteristic wildfires, insect outbreaks and insufficient funds or social license to change course.


Photos from AFE conference

The Association for Fire Ecology has posted some photos that were taken at last night’s poster session at the Interior West Fire Ecology Conference going on now at the Snowbird resort near Salt Lake City.

Here is one of them. Be sure and enjoy the music during the slide show.

AFE poster session

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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.

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