Wildfire briefing, March 12, 2014

West Virginia man found dead at wildfire

A man that was found dead near the scene of a fire Tuesday in Kanawha County, West Virginia has been identified as Donald Chandler, 66. The cause of death has not been determined but relatives thought he probably suffered a heart attack while trying to put out the fire. Officials were not sure if the fire started in a storage building and spread into the vegetation, or if a brush fire ignited the structure.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Mr. Chandler.

Fire resistant vegetation leads to a success story

Usually when a wildfire makes the news there has been a failure, perhaps more than one. The first of course is the ignition, if it is human caused. Then if the initial attack does not succeed it can spread — into the headlines of the media. But we rarely hear about the fires that are aggressively attacked and kept small, like what happened today in the southern California community of Brea.

Not only did the ground and aerial firefighters succeed, but decisions made by the homeowners association also deserve a pat on the back. The fire in Tonner Canyon near Lambert Road and the 57 Freeway was kept to only two acres thanks to the firefighters AND the fire- and drought-resistant vegetation that had been planted by the association. Even though there were Red Flag Warnings in effect today and strong winds were pushing the fire up a hill, it was stopped by the suppression forces and the proactive mitigation measures in place.

The fire was reported at 12:40 p.m. and firefighters were mopping it up by 1:20 p.m. Soon thereafter, they were back at their stations and ready for another 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.

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