Regional Forester summarizes California wildfire activity

The information below was written by Randy Moore, the Regional Forester for the U.S. Forest Service region that includes California. Written Tuesday evening, August 4, it is an update for USFS retirees about the wildfire situation in the state.


“…We have had over 14 thousand lightning strikes that resulted in 250 fires that were started within he last week. Appears we are in it for the long haul and will be very conscious of fatigue and situational awareness.

Deputy Regional Forester, Jeanne Wade Evans, and I are currently in Alturas visiting with Modoc employees in the aftermath of the Dave Ruhl’s fatality on the Frog Fire. We have Bob Housman’s NIMO team here supporting this incident within an incident and helping us coordinate with the Black Hills Forest, where Dave was employed. Dave’s Memorial is planned for Sunday, August 9th. This is a sober reminder of the risks of the work we are doing every day. We in-briefed with the Safety Learning Team yesterday that was deployed by the Chief’s office and are making sure our employees are getting the critical incident stress support they need. I am heading to the Six Rivers Forest today.

Over the last 72 hours, we deployed 9 federal incident management teams (IMTs) to our fires in California. All our federal IMTs are committed except one that we are holding in Southern California. We continue to receive support from other regions, our California partners, and the National Guard. We are in a high level of communication with all our partners as well as our field leadership. I have been hosting Agency Administrator calls daily to keep a check on the pulse of what our Forest leadership challenges are and know they are fully engaged with the communities and the teams. We are also bringing in additional agency administrator support from other regions, to make sure our leadership gets the relief they need to be engaged in the days ahead. I also briefed with Bill Van Bruggen’s Area Command on Sunday to ensure we have the highest level of coordination and support to all the Forests, Teams and communities in the area of the northern fire complexes.

We have been preparing for months for the possibility of this event knowing that we are in the fourth year of drought and the outlook was not good. I believe we are in the best position we can be, knowing there will be many challenging days ahead. Please forward on your questions and thoughts, so that we can make the most of the partnership with all you retirees as well. We have staff focused on all the key partnerships in the state and that includes you all. I will get these notes out to you through Mike Rogers as often as possible and I really appreciate Mike’s willingness to help communicate out to all of you.

Additional information you may be interested in follows:

• With significant fire activity occurring in multiple geographical areas, an increase in incident management teams being committed and an ever increasing number of shared resources being committed to large fires nationally, the National Multi Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) will move the National Preparedness Level to 4 (PL4). Northern California GACC is at PL 5 and a high priority focus.
• Good progress was made on many of the fires as Incident Management Teams and resources move into place throughout the Region
• Orders are being filled by GACC’s across the country and are arriving on incidents for deployment here in California. This includes T1 crews that are always in demand and T3 engines and other support.
• Special consideration is being given to type and kind of resources being used in wilderness and primitive areas to result in the best possible outcomes
• Both GACC’s are doing a tremendous job of mobilizing resources and providing intelligence to incoming forces
• An additional in briefing and area orientation site has been set up at the Wildland Fire Training Center
• Long term planning is underway on large incidents that will require lengthy control time
• Area Command coordination is being organized to best utilize resources available to the Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity National Forests
• Forest Supervisors, Agency Administrators, and Forest Staff are working alongside Fire Management Staff in all aspects of fire suppression efforts
• PAO staff is fielding a significant number of media inquiries
• Regional Office FAM Staff has made contact with Timber Industry representative to open lines of communication and answer questions
• All 18 National Forests are now communicating with the public via social media”

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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.