Wildfire briefing, February 26, 2016

Pile burning on Modoc NF

pile burning Modoc NF
Burning hand-piled slash on the Modoc National Forest north of Alturas near Swanson Canyon. USFS photo.

Advanced leadership course examines the 2003 Cedar Fire

This week the IAFC put on a version of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s L-580 Strategic Leader Program, which is the highest level leader development course in the NWCG “L” series curriculum. It was titled San Diego County Megafires: An All-Hazards Interactive Case Study.

On Tuesday the class, which was limited to 32 participants, visited the site of the largest fire in the recorded history of California, the 2003 Cedar Fire that killed 15 people and burned 273,246 acres and 2,820 structures.

CW6 in San Diego has a video report on the training, but the article below the video has at least a couple of errors, including the year of the fire and the number of acres burned.

Dispute about USFS claims that 2015 was a record year for acres burned

An article in the Washington Post claims there is a dispute about the claims of the U.S. Forest Service that more acres burned in the United States in 2015 than any previous year.

Some environmental groups say that in the early part of the 20th century more acres burned than the USFS has recorded since more accurate records began being kept 55 years ago. Earlier statistics may have included massive numbers of prescribed fires conducted in the southern states.

One fact that most arguments about this issue miss is that in the contiguous 48 states plus Hawaii, fewer total acres burned than in an average year. Of the 10,125,149 acres blackened in 2015 in the United States, more than half of those acres were in one state, Alaska, with 5.1 million acres, which was more than quadruple their average of 1.2 million and the most acres burned since 2004 (6.6 million). Fire management in Alaska is very different from the rest of the country. Most of the huge state is very sparsely populated, making it possible for land managers to allow some large fires to burn virtually unchecked except where they might impact a structure or village. In those areas “point protection” is the key — establishing firelines, sprinkler systems, or burnout operations for relatively small areas, leaving the rest of the fire untouched.

In the other 49 states (we like to call them the “lower 49 states”) 5.0 million acres burned in 2015, about 700,000 less than the average of 5.7 million acres.

B.C. company trains firefighters in Indonesia

A British Columbia company, TREK Wildland Services, will be training 400 workers and firefighters in Indonesia on the use of the Incident Command System.

Firefighters in Victoria leave note after saving home.

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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.