California: Basin fire, July 6

The Basin Complex and the Indians fires have now been combined into a unified command.

The fire activity on the Basin fire was slowed somewhat yesterday along the coast under the influence of the marine layer, but it was very active on the north and south sides. The fire is 71,285 acres and is 5% contained.

South side: Firefighters continue to make progress on the fireline going down the ridge from the North Coast Ridge trail south towards the Square Black Rock south of Esalen. Slow progress is still occurring on the Ridge trail toward the Rodeo Flats Trail, which will connect the fire to the Indians fire. To improve radio communications, a radio repeater will be placed on a boat.

North side: Last night firefighters were expected to begin firing from Andrew Molera State Park north along the Old Coast Road towards the Little Sur river, and eventually to a dozer line on Mescal Ridge. The fire last night was about 2 miles south of the ridge. If this plan works, and subsequent firing along Mescal Ridge is successful, this would tie off the northwest corner of the fire. Yesterday the DC-10 air tanker made some drops on Mescal Ridge.

East side: There was some activity on the east side, but it is still 1.5 to 2 miles away from Tassajara.

CA: Piute Fire Update, July 5

The Piute Fire, south of Isabella Lake and east of Bakersfield, last night crossed the Piute Mountain Road again at around 9:30 p.m. Crews worked through the night and used natural barriers to stop the spread. Firefighters previously contained a run across the road on Friday morning. The fire crossed over a 1-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail north of Piute Mountain Road and 2 miles east of Claraville Flat. On the northeast corner, the fire moved into the Bright Star Wilderness in the Cortez Canyon area.

The fire continues to move east towards the Kelso Valley area and similar fire movement is expected today. Steep terrain on the western and northern portions of the fire is hampering containment efforts. The fire is 19,010 acres and is 18% contained.

The map was updated today at 1:00 p.m.

Martin Mars reloads

I wonder what kind of wake the Martin Mars creates when it skims along a 3-mile stretch of Lake Shasta filling its 7,200 gallon tank at 80 miles per hour? It probably makes the lake a little choppy for the water skiers for a few minutes.

On Friday, it did this 20 times, reloading about every 25 minutes, dropping the water on the nearby 16,700-acre Motion fire. That is a damn good turn around time for an air tanker. The pilots have the option of dropping plain water on the fires, or mixing class A foam or fire retardant gel into the water.

Do you remember the opening sequence in the 1989 movie Always, the Steven Spielberg production with Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman that is centered around air tanker pilots? Turn up the sound when you play the 55-second clip below….it’s more fun that way.

One of the lines in the movie is still food for thought for firefighters:

Pete, there ain’t no war here. And this is why you’re not exactly a hero for taking these chances you take. You’re more of what I would call a dickhead.

Some trivia about the movie, from Wikipedia:

The movie is set in the Kootenai National Forest in Montana, with some scenes filmed in and around Libby, Montana. Some 500 people from Libby were recruited for the movie as extras to act as wildland firefighters.

In the opening scenes the forest fires were created by Pathfinder Helicopter Inc.. They were hired by the Forest Service to burn some clearcuts near Libby that were filmed for the movie. The helicopter Pilot was Steve Tolle and the Ground Crew Manager was Jim Leighty.

The Libby airport was used to double as the Forest Service Headquarters in the movie.

Washington: Candidate's house burns

Darcy Burner is a Democratic candidate for the 8th Congressional district representing Washington state. On July 1 her 5-year old son woke her up and told her the house was on fire. She escaped with her family and just the clothes on her back. It turns out that a faulty lamp in her son’s room started the fire.

Check out the shirt. It says “end war” in XML code, which is used on web sites. Burner used to work for Microsoft and is a geek… obviously.

This 2+ minute video shot just after the fire was knocked down is worth viewing. It also explains how the family’s Golden Retriever was rescued. Burner had a remarkably good attitude, considering the circumstances.

If you are familiar with Senator John Tester of Montana, you will enjoy Darcy’s 37-second campaign ad.