Wildfire briefing, May 8, 2013

The Japanese bombed an Oregon forest — in 1942

The only time during World War II when Japanese forces bombed the American mainland occurred in 1942. They loaded a small airplane with two incendiary bombs, launched it from a submarine off the Oregon coast, and tried to set the state on fire. It did not work out too well for the Japanese. Apparently there was no wildland Fire Behavior Analyst on the submarine’s crew.

Here is an excerpt from an article at DVICE:

…[From his lookout tower Keith] Johnson didn’t see the submarine as it surfaced. The boat creaked as its bow broke through the waves to the surface of the Pacific Ocean. A loud bell gave the “all clear” for the men to spring into action. On board that I-25 submarine was a single engine Yokosuki E14Y aircraft. This small, two passenger float plane was compact enough to store in a submarine but had enough power in its nine cylinder 340 hp radial engine to carry bombs on light attack missions. A team of men rolled the plane out its hangar that stood next to the conning tower, unfolded its wings and tail, then loaded two 176 pound incendiary bombs underneath its wings…


But when the fog lifted [Howard] Gardner saw smoke. He called for help then set off towards the fire, which he assumed was a remnant from a lightning strike fire that had sparked the previous day. What he and his men found was a smoldering fire covering a circular area 50 to 75 feet across. They quickly got the fire under control and found a crater about three feet in diameter and about one foot deep at the centre of the site. Inside was evidence of intense heat, hot enough to fuse earth and rocks.

Sky lanterns banned in California county

We have written about sky lanterns or fire balloons several times, including the legislation being considered in Oregon to ban these devices which can start fires in structures and the wildland.

Here is an excerpt from The Tribune about a county in southern California prohibiting them under most conditions:

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed an ordinance prohibiting the ignition and launching of sky lanterns in the county areas outside the incorporated cities and fire districts. The ordinance goes into effect in 30 days.

A sky lantern — an airborne paper lantern sometimes called a “Chinese lantern” — is similar to a miniature hot air balloon. It is powered by a fuel cell or candle that heats the air, fills the balloon and makes the lantern fly up into the sky.

“What seems harmless is not, and these lanterns pose a serious threat to the citizens, property, and wildland areas of San Luis Obispo County,” said Cal Fire Chief Rob Lewin.


UPDATE at 9:14 p.m. MT, May 8, 2013:

After posting the above about the sky lanterns, we heard from Dietra A. Myers Tremblay who is studying Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance at the University of Hawaii. She said:

In regards to your May 8, 2013 Wildfire Briefing on sky lanterns, in 2012, Hawaii enacted a state law that prohibits the sale, offer for sale, distribution, possession, ignition, or other use of aerial luminaries also known as sky lanterns, Hawaii lanterns, and flying luminaries.

A link to Section 132-19, Hawaii Revised Statutes. And here is another useful link to the bill status.


NWCG publishes course revision status

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has published the revision status of some of their courses. Here is a screen grab from a portion of the document (click on it to see a larger version):

NWCG course revision status, May, 2013

Fire truck runs over firefighter dressed as a bear

The article in the North Devon Journal in the United Kingdom does not mention Smokey Bear:

A firefighter dressed as a bear was run over by a fire engine during Torrington Carnival on Saturday night.

Justin Matthews, landlord at the Cavalier Inn in Well Street, was taking part in the town’s annual carnival when the incident happened at around 7pm.

Mr Matthews, who is a retained firefighter, was walking in front of the fire engine when he got caught up in the wheel of the vehicle.

The incident happened as the carnival was making its way around the roundabout next to Torrington Cottage Hospital at the top of Calf Street.

The procession was stopped while ambulance crews treated the firefighter at the scene.

Ellen Vernon, who lives in Torrington, said there was “horror” among the crowd as everyone realised what had happened.

Fire Aviation news

Check out the latest news about Fire Aviation:


Thanks go out to Kelly and Kirk.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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.

2 thoughts on “Wildfire briefing, May 8, 2013”

  1. The story is not entirely accurate. The Japanese also lobed a bomb from a submarine which hit an oil production field (Elwood) along the California coast just north of Santa Barbara shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    1. Japanese submarine(s) shelled the west coast on a limited basis using deck guns of 100 to 120mm in size,(4 to 4.9 inch diameter).
      Bombs were deployed by balloons into the Pacific Northwest during the war. Due to panic and confusion following Pearl Harbor it has been hard to document Japanese attacks early in the war in CA. They did have a seaplane that could be launched from a submarine. The air and space museum has one of the seaplanes captured at the end of the war in its restoration facility in the DC area.


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