Wildfire briefing, August 19, 2013

Preparedness Level

The National Preparedness Level is going up to the highest level of 5 effective Tuesday.

Screenplay to be written for the Esperanza Fire

An arrangement has been made to write a movie script for John N. Maclean’s book The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57. Legendary Pictures has closed a deal with Sean O’Keefe to adapt the book about the 2006 entrapment and deaths of the five firefighters who were working on U.S. Forest Service Engine 57.

We talked with Mr. Maclean in February when he signed the movie rights deal with Legendary Pictures. He told us then that while the contract had been signed, including the stipulation that he will serve as a consultant, there are many steps that have to be completed before it appears on the big screen. The producers must arrange for someone to write the screenplay, financing has to be arranged, and actors have to be signed — just to name a few. So, the first of those three important steps has begun. But many scripts never become movies, Mr. Maclean said.

The arsonist who started the fire, Raymond Oyler, was found guilty of five counts of first-degree murder, 20 counts of arson, and 17 counts of using an incendiary device to start fires. He was sentenced to death.

The firefighters who died were engine Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, 44, of Idyllwild; engine operator Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; assistant engine operator Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; firefighter Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto; and firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, of Fountain Valley.

We have an excerpt from the book in our January 21 article.

Dry lightning starts fires in California

Numerous lightning strikes, some of them without rain, started several dozen new fires in the Sierras and in southern California. On Sunday 24,681 strikes were recorded in the state, but so far firefighters have kept the fires small. Scattered mostly dry thunderstorms are predicted to continue through Monday followed by widespread thunderstorms with wetting rain in the Sierras Tuesday through Thursday.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning due to the possibility of dry lightning in combination with gusty winds for most of the foothills and mountains of Northern California.


There are three new articles over at Fire Aviation.

  • Tanker 910, a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker, experienced an engine failure coming off of a drop on the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho on Thursday, August 15.
  • Minden Air Corp has made a video available of the takeoff for the first flight test of their Tanker 46, a converted BAe-146, which occurred June 9, 2013.
  • An Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) has completed a detailed comparison of the use of a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) and P2V Large Air Tankers to complete the same task of creating 4.6 miles of retardant line on the Colockum Tarps Fire,

 Atlanta evacuated (not THAT Atlanta)

Little Queen Fire, August 18, 2013

Residents of Atlanta, Idaho have been ordered to evacuate by noon today, Monday, because of the 2,000-acre Little Queens Fire burning about four miles north of the town. The majority of the fire is in the Sawtooth Wilderness and Sawtooth National Forest.

The Great Basin Type 2 Team 5 (Wilde) is being reassigned to the fire.

From InciWeb, on August 17:

Jason Greenlee is the Incident Commander, “We will manage the Little Queens Fire as a long term fire. We will monitor the fire to ensure that it does not burn into Atlanta, Idaho and plan and prepare to defend the community if the fire changes direction and moves to the south”. This strategy is being used due to the shortage of resources to fight the fire due to other fires in the area.

In case you’re not familiar with Atlanta, it is 37 miles northwest of Ketchum, ID, and 23 miles northwest of the 104,000-acre Beaver Creek Fire.

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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.