Wildfire briefing, February 23, 2015

Oregon negotiating to renew wildfire insurance

The state of Oregon has had an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London since 1973 that helps to cover the cost of suppressing wildfires during busy fire seasons. The premium for that policy has been about $1-2 million. But before the state receives any payout from Lloyd’s they have to spend $20-25 million to cover the deductible, after which the insurance company will cover the additional costs up to $25 million. Two consecutive bad fire seasons has state officials thinking that they may have to pay more for that policy this year.

For the last two months the state has been negotiating with Lloyd’s over the terms of a new policy.

Below is an update from an article in the Bend Bulletin:

…The state sent its top forester, Doug Decker, across the Atlantic to meet face to face with brokers from Lloyd’s of London early this month. Even now, Decker says, the future is uncertain.

“They’ll be asking themselves the question what can they afford to provide, and we’ll be asking the question what can we afford to pay,” Decker said.

Lloyd’s officials said they don’t comment on individual policies, but Decker said about a dozen brokers are crunching numbers and other factors to see whether the company still finds Oregon worth insuring. They’re likely to take into account what the state says is its ability to extinguish about 95 percent of fires before they grow larger than 10 acres . They’ll consider the cameras Oregon places in remote areas to scout for fires.

But there’s another factor Lloyd’s may consider that is working against the state: snowpack. Right now, there isn’t much…

Light snowpack could mean busy fire season in Arizona

The snowpack in Arizona is about half of normal for this time of year.

Researchers study the effect of wildfires on bats

bat wildfireTwo Northern Arizona University researchers are learning more about how bats are faring in the post-wildfire Ponderosa pine forests, of which 3.2 million acres have been scorched during the past decade. Because bats help pollenate plants, aid in reforestation and maintain ecosystem balance by eating large quantities of insects, scientists believe it is imperative to understand the effects of wildfire on bat habitats.

“In the short term, it doesn’t appear that wildfire will have substantial impacts on maternity roost habitat,” graduate student Erin Saunders said. “However, as large high severity wildfires continue, paired with the added stress of climate change, we will likely see a decrease in available snags for habitat and possibly a shift in the forest composition.” Saunders added that their relatively short-term research should be continued in order to make stronger land management recommendations.

Firefighters unroll burning hay bale

The Muskogee Phoenix has an interesting photo of firefighters in Oklahoma unrolling a burning hay bale, explaining that they “spent the afternoon [on a 50-acre grass fire] unrolling burning hay bales before winds picked up. According to the Warner fire chief, a hay bale will burn for days unless it is unrolled.”

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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.

3 thoughts on “Wildfire briefing, February 23, 2015”

  1. Re: the Arizona snow pack…Half? I was in Sedona last week and, well , it’s 0% in a lot of areas. Overall, they are sitting at 4% and 2% for the two north central zones – I could see a fair bit on the north rim flying out, must be the 66% listed:


    Definitely an interesting weather pattern for most of the western states this year. There is a correlation for some forest types with low snow pack/streamflow timing and flow, but some fuel types will have to wait until May and June to know how bad things will get. As of now, it looks like mountain fires will, if nothing else, be a lot harder to put out…

  2. Wave of the future if folks have not been paying attention

    Aviation…..20 plus years of operators and even GA folks carrying their insurance to cover bent up or even light damages to aircraft…..nothing new to us..

    It’s going to be more apparent as the years go by for land management agencies even those quoting self insured……..

    The wave of the future……….


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