Four senators urge federal officials to publish fire training materials in Spanish

Incident Response Pocket GuideOn Tuesday four U.S. Senators signed a letter urging federal officials to resume publication of wildfire training materials in Spanish as well as English.

The letter from Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala Harris follows a report that the National Wildfire Coordinating Group no longer publishes training materials in Spanish for wildland fire crews.

“Given that a significant number of these brave wildland fire crews speak Spanish as their native language, it would be wiser and safer to provide bilingual training materials,” the senators wrote in their letter to National Wildfire Coordinating Group Chairman Garth Fisher. “The alternative is to risk danger and harm by requiring that all firefighters rapidly attempt to understand training materials that are only available in English.”

The senators urged the NWCG to begin producing bilingual versions of key manuals like the Incident Response Pocket Guide.

“Firefighters must be provided with clearly understandable, updated training materials so that they can operate safely and respond to wildfires expeditiously and efficiently,” the senators wrote.

 

USPS honors first responders with a stamp

First Responders Stamp
First Responders Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service went to the Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center in Missoula, MT on September 13 for the first-day-of-issue ceremony for a stamp that honors first responders.

“Our nation’s first responders rush into life-threatening situations for the benefit of others,” said Guy Cottrell, the Postal Inspection Service’s Chief Postal Inspector and dedicating official. “The Postal Service is pleased to honor their skill, dedication and unfailing bravery with this stamp.”

Artist Brian Stauffer worked with art director and designer Antonio Alcalá and designer Ricky Altizer to create this stamp. As a contributing artist to The New York TimesTime magazine, The New Yorker and other publications worldwide, Stauffer’s illustrations are best known for bridging traditional and digital realms to create a conceptual take on social issues.


Our take:

It is wonderful that the Postal Service is honoring first responders. They don’t receive enough credit and recognition. Congrats, USPS. However, I doubt if the Postal Service personnel saw anyone at the smokejumper base outfitted like the folks on the stamp.

By the way if you have not bought any stamps lately, these babies will set you back $0.50.

Google Earth acquires imagery of Thomas Fire

Google Earth, the software that has aerial imagery from all over the world, now has satellite photos of the Thomas Fire. The photo above is from December 13, 2017. To see the fire images you will need to zoom in fairly close and select imagery from December, 2017 (View/Historical Imagery). The photos are from December 4 through 18, 2017.

The Thomas Fire burned 281,893 acres in December, 2017 near Ventura, California, making it for a surprisingly short time, the largest wildfire in recent California history. It destroyed 1,063 structures, damaged 280 more, and set in motion the factors that led to a series of flash-floods and landslides that killed 21 residents. Seven months later the Ranch Fire east of Ukiah became the largest in the recent history of the state, burning 410,000 acres.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Robert.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Two fires south of Jackson, Wyoming spreading rapidly at high elevation

The Roosevelt and Marten Creek Fires are 30 and 50 miles south of Jackson

Above: The Martin Fire, September 16, 2018. InciWeb.

(UPDATED at 7:02 a.m. MDT September 19, 2018)

The Roosevelt Fire 30 air miles south of Jackson, Wyoming was very active Tuesday growing to within 3 miles of Highway 191. Since it started September 15 it has spread 16 miles to the east. When it was mapped at 10:45 p.m. Tuesday the fire was 6 miles south of Bondurant. Most of the blaze at that time was within the Bridger-Teton National Forest but began to move onto private land on the east side near Muddy Creek Road late in the day.

To see the all of the articles about the Roosevelt Fire on Wildfire Today, including the most recent, click HERE.

The mapping flight Tuesday night determined the fire had burned approximately 25,168 acres, which was almost three times the size we estimated it had burned at 2:59 p.m. Tuesday.

3-D map Roosevelt Fire Wyoming
3-D map, looking north, showing the perimeter of the Roosevelt Fire at 10:45 p.m. MDT September 18, 2018.
map Roosevelt Fire Wyoming
Map showing the perimeter of the Roosevelt Fire at 10:45 p.m. MDT September 18, 2018.

The Marten Creek Fire 50 miles south of Jackson was much less active Tuesday afternoon and evening.


(Originally published at 9:38 p.m. MDT September 18, 2018)

It is not every year that in mid-September we see wildfires south of Jackson, Wyoming spreading rapidly at 7,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level.

The Roosevelt Fire started September 15 about 30 air miles south of Jackson and spread to the east over a 10,000-foot ridge. At about 3 p.m. Tuesday it had spread along the east slope back down to 7,000 feet, 7  miles south of Bondurant.

The Great Basin Incident Management Team 6 led by Incident Commander Jeff Knudson will assume command of the fire Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.

Fire officials said it is a full suppression fire “utilizing natural barriers. These barriers will aid in slowing the fire growth. In other areas that are safe to have firefighters working direct, we will be using that tactic.”

The Sublette County Sheriff’s Office has issued Evacuation Orders for several areas. Their Facebook page has the latest official information.

Our very UNOFFICIAL estimate of the size of the Roosevelt Fire, based on heat detected by a satellite flying 200 miles overhead at 2:59 p.m. MDT September 18 puts it about 9,000 acres.

The Marten Creek Fire started near Gray River Road September 16, about 50 miles south of Jackson and has also worked its way up to a 10,000-foot ridge. It is 12 miles east of Afton, Wyoming. Strong winds aligned with the topography significantly increased the fire behavior Monday and Tuesday.

Tuesday evening a Type 2 Incident Management Team will begin transitioning with the local Type 3 team, in association with the U.S. Forest Service. The fire was human caused and is currently under investigation. Fire officials said Tuesday night the fire has burned about 5,700 acres.

The area will be under a Red Flag Warning Wednesday. The forecast for the fire area calls for a high of 70 degrees at 7,800 feet, winds out of the southwest at 15 mph gusting to 23, and relative humidity in the low teens.

Lessons Learned Review released for engine rollover near Meeker, Colorado

Above: the photo above is from the LLR.

A Lessons Learned Review has been released for an engine that rolled over while working on the Fawn Fire near Meeker, Colorado July 8 ,2018.

The entire document is HERE.  Below is the Executive Summary:

On July 8th at approximately 2325, on the Fawn Fire near Meeker Colorado, a cooperating fire department engine (Engine 1) rolled off the roadway as they were travelling from the fire back to Incident Command Post (ICP). Due to a high volume of fire traffic and very dry conditions, the road surface was extremely dusty and visibility was often severely reduced.

As Engine 1 was departing the fire area, they were the second to last vehicle in a convoy of 5 vehicles. Approximately a half mile after leaving the fire and headed back down County Road 29, Engine 1 encountered near zero-visibility due to dust and started to slow down. This reduction in visibility occurred in a short section of the road where the road bed narrowed due to erosional sloughing. Unable to see the upcoming road bed hazard, the engine operator continued driving straight as he was slowing the engine down. The front passenger [-side] tire travelled off the roadway, and the engine rolled off the embankment and down about 75 feet before coming to rest in the creek bottom back on its tires.

Although there was substantial damage to the cab of the engine, all the vehicle occupants were wearing their seat belts and only sustained minor injuries (bruising, chest and back pain). Due to the heavy dust, none of the other convoy vehicles knew immediately that the rollover had happened. A rapid response from other vehicles in the convoy occurred after it was discovered that Engine 1 had rolled off the road.

The three crewmembers of Engine 1 were assessed for injuries and then driven back to the ICP. At the ICP, an ambulance that had been called to respond met the Engine 1 crew and transported them to a local medical facility in Meeker. After a thorough medical assessment, it was determined that no serious injuries had occurred, and all 3 were released from the hospital at approximately 0630 on the morning of July 9th.

Thankfully there were no serious injuries.

fire engine rollover colorado
Photo from the LLR.

The report stated, “The Headache Rack saved the cab from crushing worse than it did.” A body-mounted “headache rack” is only designed to prevent cargo from entering the passenger compartment during a sudden stop and is far to weak to provide serious rollover protection.

This is the 59th article on Wildfire Today that is tagged “rollover”. These accidents are common, and wildland fire engines should be designed with real frame-mounted roll bars, not cheap-ass expanded metal grates protecting the glass in the rear window.

We wrote more about roll bars and headache racks HERE.

And, the photo below is from an article about real rollover protection on a fire engine.

Mercedes Benz G-wagon fire engine
Mercedes Benz G-wagon engine. Photo by Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

The next two photos are from the LLR.

fire engine rollover colorado
Photo from the LLR.
fire engine rollover colorado
Photo from the LLR.

Lawsuit filed alleging steam engine train started 416 Fire

The fire burned over 54,000 acres north of Durango, Colorado in June, 2018

At least six local residents and business owners in the Durango, Colorado area have filed a lawsuit against the company that operates the steam engine-powered train that hauls tourists on a 50-mile route between that city and Silverton. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad locomotive burns coal which heats water, converting it to steam. Similar powered trains are known to start fires when burning embers are produced along with the smoke. The suit alleges that the train started a fire on June 1  north of Durango that eventually burned over 54,000 acres in very steep terrain west of Highway 550.

map 416 fire
The 416 Fire, July 4, 2018.

When the fire first started it was named the “Train xx Fire”. But instead of the “xx” there was a number, which gave the impression that a train had also started other fires in the area. After the fire quickly grew very large, the name was changed to “416 Fire”. The U.S. Forest Service investigated to determine the cause, but according to an article in the Durango Herald they have not released the results, which will likely be reviewed by Colorado State Attorney General’s office before they are revealed in late fall or early winter.

The people that filed the lawsuit claim the fire adversely affected tourism, causing a 5.6 percent drop in sales tax and a 13.2 percent drop in lodgers tax  over the same period in 2017.

MD87 air tanker drops 416 Fire
An MD87 air tanker drops on the 416 Fire June 7, 2018. Photo by Dan Bender, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

Below are excerpts from the Herald’s article:

Plaintiffs say the company and its owner knew, or should have known, of the drought conditions that existed at the time the fire started.

The company did work to prevent this possibility. The train has its own firefighting tactics, such as having pop cars with water tankers follow a train to extinguish small fires and a helicopter to tackle fires from the air.

But plaintiffs say the railway operator was not equipped to extinguish this blaze. It had just laid off its veteran crew of firefighters at the beginning of the year, the lawsuit states, and replaced them “with employees much less experienced in fire mitigation and firefighting techniques.”

Fire crews “were unable to put down the fire because they were insufficiently trained by the defendant and/or because the firefighting equipment provided on the pop car was wholly insufficient to appropriately respond to the fire,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

The video below is an interview with Cres Fleming who was the second person on scene at the 416 Fire June 1, 2018.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Gary.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.