Scooping air tanker crashes in Texas Lake, pilot rescued

The single engine air tanker was refilling at Lake Livingston

7:27 p.m. CDT August 9, 2022

Map, August 9, 2022 helicopter crash
Map, August 9, 2022 helicopter crash in Lake Livingston, Texas.

This article was first published at Fire Aviation.

Tuesday afternoon, August 9, a single engine air tanker working on a wildfire in southeast Texas crashed in Lake Livingston. The pilot was quickly rescued, taken to shore, and treated.

The accident was announced by the Texas Forest Service’s Lone Star State Incident Management Team which said the agency was assisting with wildfires in the Corrigan area.

The incident occurred at about 5 p.m. CDT. Lake Livingston is 25 miles southwest of Corrigan and 55 miles northeast of Houston.

The Air Tractor 802 Fire Boss is amphibious. It has floats and can skim across the surface of a lake to refill its water tank, then fly to the fire and assist firefighters by dropping water. The Texas Forest Service does not own any air tankers, they issue contracts to private companies.

When we hear more about the condition of the pilot we will update this article. An 802 Fire Boss usually only has one person on board.

File photo of an Air Tractor 802 Fire Boss operated by Conair. Not necessarily the aircraft involved in the incident.
File photo of an Air Tractor 802 Fire Boss. Not the aircraft involved in the incident.

There have been two other incidents in the last seven days involving Air Tractor 802 Fire Boss air tankers.

On August 3 a Fire Boss suffered an engine failure and made a forced landing while working on a fire in British Columbia. The pilot survived.

Two days later on August 5 a Fire Boss crashed and sank in the Gulf of Elefsina while working on a fire near Nea Peramos in Greece. It occurred about 12 miles west of Athens as the air tanker was scooping water. Both crew members were rescued.

There have been three recent fatal helicopter crashes related to wildfires.

On July 16, 2022 a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Bell UH-1H Huey helicopter crashed northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico, killing all four on board. It had been assisting with a wildfire, providing bucket drops and other air logistics needs to fire crews on the ground.

A Boeing CH-47D helicopter crashed into the Salmon River July 20, 2022 while working on the Moose Fire in Idaho, firefighters swam across the river to extract and care for the two pilots. Unfortunately, both of the pilots died from their injuries.

On June 26, 2022 a Bell UH-1B operated by Northern Pioneer Helicopters out of Big Lake, Alaska was attempting to assist firefighters by hauling equipment to the Clear Fire by a 125-foot long line. It was maneuvering at the Clear Airport 53 miles southwest of Fairbanks about 140 feet above the ground to have the end of the long line connected to the cargo. A loud noise was heard and the helicopter fell to the ground, killing the pilot, the only person on board.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.

Forest Service lookout one of four killed during McKinney Fire in Northern California

Kathy Shoopman
Kathy Shoopman. USFS photo.

The US Forest Service has announced that one of the four people killed in the McKinney Fire in Northern California was Kathy Shoopman, a long-time FS employee. The agency said she died in her home in the community of Klamath River as a result of the fire on July 29, the day the fire erupted.

Ms. Shoopman started her career as a lookout at Baldy Mountain Lookout, west of Happy Camp, in 1974. Since then, she has staffed Lake Mountain Lookout, and most recently Buckhorn Lookout, a post she has held since 1993. She lived in the community of Klamath River for nearly five decades and was a talented artist, gardener, and a devout animal lover.

All four victims lived in Klamath River, which was ordered to evacuate on July 29 as the fire spread rapidly. It has now burned more than 60,000 acres. Ms. Shoopman was the first victim to have been positively identified.

Our sincere condolences go out to Ms. Shoopman’s family, friends, and co-workers.

Six Rivers Lightning Complex grows to 8,920 acres

Two firefighter crew carrier vehicles destroyed

Updated 8:36 a.m. PDT August 9, 2022

Six Rivers Lightning Complex fires Willow Creek
Willow Creek downtown during the Six Rivers Lightning Complex of fires, Aug. 7, 2022. InciWeb.

The wildfires in the Six Rivers Lightning Complex grew incrementally Monday, bringing the total acres burned up to about 8,900 acres when it was mapped at 9:00 Monday night. (See map below)

“Given the full-suppression tactics on this fire, crews will continue to fight fire aggressively in order to keep fire as small as possible,” the incident management team wrote in a Monday evening update. “Personnel are working to find areas to fight fire directly while continuing to provide community defense for Willow Creek, Seely Mcintosh, Salyer Heights, and other areas along the Trinity River.”

Map of the Six Rivers Lightning Complex fires
Map of the Six Rivers Lightning Complex. The red shaded areas were the perimeters at 9 p.m. August 8, 2022. The white lines were the perimeters about 24 hours previously. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 4:10 a.m. Aug. 9, 2022.

KCRA News reports that two firefighter crew carrier vehicles were destroyed by the fire. Dave Whitt, Chief of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians Tribal Fire, said “We had almost a million dollars worth of fire apparatus lost but nobody’s hurt, everybody’s safe.”

Two crew carriers burned in Six Rivers Lightning Complex Fire
Two crew carriers burned in the Six Rivers Lightning Complex Fire, Aug. 8, 2022

With the destruction of the vehicles, 15 of the firefighters lost all of the personal gear they brought to the fire except what they were carrying at the time. Gone were sleeping bags, tents, extra tools, clothing, and personal items. Without their gear they were unable to set up tents and camp overnight like the other firefighters, so the Red Cross helped out by treating them like evacuees, providing a place to sleep when they were off duty.

Chief Whitt told Wildfire Today that he expects the US Forest Service compensation/claims process to replace the fire trucks and firefighting equipment. The tribe may assist the firefighters to replace their personal belongings, he said, but was not sure.

Resources assigned to the fire include 14 Type 1 Crews, 8 Type 2 Crews, 11 ST (strike teams) Type 3 Crews, 12 Dozers, 4 Chippers, 11 ST Type 6 Engines, 4 ST Dozers, 11 Type 3 Engines, 7 Water Tender Support, and 2 Feller Bunchers for a total of 525 personnel.

The weather forecast continues to predict moderate and normal conditions.

Evacuations are in effect. For current information go to Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services (https://humboldtgov.org/2383/Current-Emergencies) or Trinity County Office of Emergency Services (https://www.trinitycounty.org/OES). Evacuation zones can be found at https://community.zonehaven.com/.


6:02 p.m. PDT August 8, 2022

Six Rivers Lightning Complex map
Map looking north from the south end of the Six Rivers Lightning Complex. The red shaded areas were the perimeters at 8:26 p.m. Aug. 7. The white lines were the perimeters about 24 hours before. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:12 p.m. Aug. 8, 2022.

The incident management team that assumed command of the Six Rivers Lightning Complex at 6 a.m. Sunday August 7 said on Monday, “This is a full suppression fire. Firefighters will aggressively fight fire whenever it is safe to do so.”

Among their objectives, they intend to keep the fire west of Lone Pine, south of Horse Linto Creek, east of Brannan Ridge, and north of Ammon Ridge.

Humboldt County has issued additional evacuation orders. The current information is at the county’s website.

The fire is in a remote area of northwest California in the Six Rivers National Forest between Redding and Eureka.

The team reported that last year’s snow event left a lot of trees dead and down on the ground. If ignited, it can result in fire behavior that is more substantial than what would usually be anticipated this time of year.

Six Rivers Lightning Complex map
Map of the Six Rivers Lightning Complex. The red shaded areas were the perimeters at 8:26 p.m. Aug. 7. The white lines were the perimeters about 24 hours before. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:12 p.m. Aug. 8, 2022.

Continue reading “Six Rivers Lightning Complex grows to 8,920 acres”

Firefighters are scouting for potential control lines on the Cedar Creek Fire in Western Oregon

11:20 a.m. PDT August 7, 2022

Cedar Creek Fire, mapped at 3:07 a.m. PDT Aug. 7, 2022
Cedar Creek Fire, looking east at 3:07 a.m. PDT Aug. 7, 2022

The Cedar Creek Fire on the Willamette National Forest in Western Oregon was very active when it was mapped by a fixed wing aircraft at about 10 p.m. Saturday, and also during a satellite overflight at 3 a.m. Sunday. Spot fires were observed 800 feet ahead of the main fire.

It has burned 1,822 acres since it started from a lightning strike August 1, one of 20 to 30 fires ignited by lightning that night. Most of it is burning on a plateau with a steep slope on the south side. The blaze is north of Highway 58, 14 air miles east of Oakridge, and 2 miles west of Waldo Lake.

Cedar Creek Fire, mapped at 3:07 a.m. PDT Aug. 7, 2022
Cedar Creek Fire, mapped at 3:07 a.m. PDT Aug. 7, 2022.

A Type 1 incident management team assumed command on August 5. Since then the team has been scouting for opportunities to safely engage the fire.

Currently there are no evacuations in effect.

Update at 11:57 a.m. PDT August 9 2022.
It turns out that there is a major error in the National Interagency Fire Center fire history database. In the map below we created using their data, the polygon shown as the 68,000-acre 1991 Warner Creek Fire is completely in error and does not exist at that scale or at that location. The polygon that was not identified in the NIFC database that we labeled as “Unknown fire name in the 1990s”, is actually the 8,900-acre Warner Creek Fire of 1991. We regret the error. This is not the first time we have seen gross errors in the NIFC fire history database, especially for Oregon, and causes us to question ever using it again.

Fire history near the Cedar Creek Fire

The 1996 Charlton Fire which burned 9,000 acres is 3 miles to the northeast on the north side of Waldo Lake.

Cedar Creek Fire Oregon 11 a.m. August 6, 2022
Cedar Creek Fire looking north at 11 a.m. August 6, 2022. InciWeb photo.

In the video below recorded Sunday morning, Operations Section Chief Kyle Cannon describes the current situation.

Six Rivers Lightning Complex of fires emerges in Northern California

Near Willow Creek east of Eureka

Updated 7:19 a.m. PDT August 7, 2022

SRF Lightning Complex 3:07 a.m. Aug. 7, 2022
Six Rivers Lightning Complex, north end. The red shaded areas were the perimeters at 8:32 p.m. Aug. 6.

Saturday night at 8:32 a fixed wing aircraft mapped four of the eight fires on the Six Rivers National Forest that comprise the Six Rivers Lightning Complex of fires. The three closest to Willow Creek and east of Highway 299 at that time were the Bremer (213 acres), Campbell (1,526 acres), and Cedar (250 acres).

As can be expected when a dozen fires all start at about the same time in rugged country, there has been some confusion about the names of the fires. We did the best we could to sort that out, but the names on these maps could be subject to change.

Evacuations are in effect. Evacuation zones can be found at community.zonehaven.com. An evacuation center has been established at Trinity Valley Elementary School, at 730 Highway 96, Willow Creek. For more information and up-to-date evacuation information go to humboldtsheriff.org/emergency, or Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services or Trinity County Office of Emergency Services.

Six Rivers Lightning Complex
Six Rivers Lightning Complex, south end. The red shaded areas were the perimeters at 8:32 p.m. Aug. 6. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:07 a.m. August 7, 2022.

The Type 2 Incident Management Team 11, led by Incident Commander Christopher Fogle, will assume command August 7th at 6:00pm.

Six Rivers Lightning Complex
Six Rivers Lightning Complex. The red shaded areas were the perimeters at 8:32 p.m. Aug. 6. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:07 a.m. August 7, 2022.

Updated at 8:13 p.m. PDT August 6, 2022

Satellite photo smoke from the Six Rivers Lightning Complex of fires
Satellite photo showing smoke from the Six Rivers Lightning Complex of fires at 7:21 PDT Aug. 6, 2022. NOAA.

Updated at 8:02 p.m. PDT August 6, 2022

Campbell Fire, part of the Six Rivers Lightning Complex
Campbell Fire, part of the Six Rivers Lightning Complex, taken from Lilys Thai Kitchen by Basho Warson Parks, Aug. 6, 2022.

The Six Rivers National Forest is calling the fires near Willow Creek, California, the Six Rivers Lightning Complex. They released the following information and map on Saturday.

We cannot stress this enough- This is a VERY ACTIVE INCIDENT and is emerging and changing rapidly. Please don’t take notifications lightly and stay informed.

Evacuations are in effect. More information:

Humboldt County: facebook.com/HumCoOES
Trinity County: facebook.com/TrinityCoOES

  • WATERMAN: Approx. 75 acres. Fire is located northeast of Willow Creek on Waterman Ridge Road 7N02 Forest Route 4.
  • CEDAR: Approx. 80 acres. Fire is located near Waterman Fire.
  • BREMER: 15 acres. Fire is located northeast of Willow Creek on ridgetop above the Bigfoot Subdivision.
  • FRIDAY: Fire is located south of Willow Creek ½ mile up Friday Ridge Rd from Hwy 299.
  • OAK: 200 acres. Fire is located south of Willow Creek. Near FS Road 5N31 and 6N20.
  • CHARLIE: Contained. Located south of Willow Creek near the Oak Fire and along FS Road 6N20.
  • CORRAL: Fire is located northeast of Willow Creek on Tish Tang Ridge.
  • CAMPBELL: Due to fire activity, the Bravo and Campbell fire have merged and is now being called the Campbell fire. Approx. 150 acres. Located south of Willow Creek on the west side of Campbell Ridge above Campbell Ridge above Campbell Ridge Road.

Continue reading “Six Rivers Lightning Complex of fires emerges in Northern California”

Video of DC-10 dropping on a fire east of Helena, Montana

Tanker 914, a DC-10, dropping on the Matt Staff RD Fire
Still image from video of Tanker 914, a DC-10, dropping on the Matt Staff RD Fire. MT DNRC.

This article was first published at Fire Aviation.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation posted an excellent video of air tanker 914, a DC-10, dropping retardant on the Matt Staff Rd Fire.

The fire has burned 1,538 acres 13 miles east of Helena, Montana between Canyon Ferry Lake and US Highway 287.

All evacuations on the fire were lifted at 8 p.m. Friday, August 5th.  Matt Staff Road is still closed to the public. Montana’s County Assist Team assumed command of the fire at 12 p.m. on August 5th. The cooler temperatures and brief rain Saturday morning were beneficial to firefighting efforts.

The drop

The terrain seen in the video is not extreme, but appears to be outside the parameters NASA expected for a very large air tanker such as a DC-10.

Here is an excerpt from the NASA report issued March 2, 2009, titled “USFS Very Large Air Tanker Operational Test and Evaluation.”

The analysis suggests that for level or gently rolling terrain where level to slight descents (< 6-7%) are required, VLAT-class aircraft could probably be employed with few restrictions as long as they remained above 300’ AGL during the delivery.

Check out the video below posted by Kevin Osborne showing a DC-10 making a downhill drop in 2012 on the Goff Fire on the Klamath National Forest in Northern California.

Names of fires

On a related subject, here is my plea for initial attack and dispatcher personnel to keep the names of fires simple. Fires are usually named after a nearby landmark or geographical feature. One word is preferred, but certainly no more than two. Think about how many times the name will have to written, spoken, and typed into forms. Will spelling be easy, or will it be misleading, such as “Camp Fire”, or Road vs Rd?