Norway fire largest since WWII

The following comment about the fire in Norway was left yesterday by bjorn ivar:

“The Froland fire in Norway is now reported to have burned between 2000 and 6000 acres. More than 20 cabins and one farm has also been consumed by the flames. 4 helicopters and 200-300 firefighters is fighting the fire.

This is probably the largest wildfire in Norway since WWII by a wide margin.”

Here is more information from Aftenposten

“Forest fire burning for fourth day in a row

More homes were evacuated as a fire in Froland, southern Norway, kept burning during the night. Officials were more optimistic, however, that they would soon gain control over it.

The fire that turned into an inferno near the town of Mykland on Monday seemed to be “calming down,” said one official. “It’s been a good night, with a lot of positive developments, and we think this will be a good day,” Ove Frigstad, leader of the fire battalion, told Aftenposten.no Thursday morning.

Frigstad conceded that “the wind was still dangerous,” but forecasts that it might finally start raining fueled his optimism.

He also said emergency crews knew where the various “fire fronts” were, and that they were positioned at all of them.

“We have crews on all fronts, but don’t have full control until they’re all extinguished,” he said. “It’s very dry in the area, and the fire has been burning for a long time.”

More than 10,000 mål (about 2500 acres, or 1,000 hectares) have been ravaged by the blaze and nearly 70 persons remained under evacuation orders.

The fire in Froland, Aust-Agder County, is just one of several fires to have broken out in southern Norway during the past two weeks. Eight persons lost their homes during another fire near Modum in Buskerud County on Wednesday.”

Declassified manual on how to sabotage a business

At the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference two people from the CIA gave a talk which included some information from a recently declassified “Simple Sabotage Field Manual” from the U.S. Strategic Services. In part, it lists some helpful advice on how to sabotage a business:

(1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of per­sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.
(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and considera­tion.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
(5) Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.
(6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.
(7) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reason­able” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
(8) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the juris­diction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

All of this sounds very familiar.

Fire roundup

California

Ophir Fire, 2 miles south of Oroville, 1,600 acres, 21 residences and 28 outbuildings lost. The spread of this fire has been stopped for now.

Ophir fire
Photo: Enterprise-Record

Jackson Fire, 20 miles north of Sacramento, 6,400 acres. Three firefighters from Sacramento Metro FD were entrapped while protecting a mobile home. Two took refuge in an engine and were not injured. The captain did not make it to the engine and received some second- and third-degree burn injuries.

41 Fire, 17 miles north of Fresno, 3,300 acres.

Indians Fire, 18 miles west of King City in a Los Padres National Forest wilderness area, 1,300 acres. There are reports that the fire made a big run yesterday.

Fire in Stockton. The fire started in brush along Interstate 5 and spread into a residential neighborhood, destroying destroying 20 condominium units, nine single-family homes and a triplex before it was controlled.

North Carolina

Evans Road Fire, 7 miles south of Creswekk, 40,195 acres, still spreading to the north and east. In addition to Hildreth’s Type 2 Incident Management Team, Custer’s NIMO (National Incident Management Organization) team is assigned. Firefighters are burning off wheat stubble fields out ahead of the fire.

Senator Elizabeth Dole is requesting that the White House reconsider a request for emergency assistance from FEMA. It was denied earlier.

The photo below from InciWeb is of the Evans Road fire near the actual Evans Road. The caption on InciWeb made note of the “irrigation hose”. Firefighters refer to it as “hose” or “fire hose”.

Norway

A fire in Froland has burned 10 cabins and 250 acres. During the night 49 people were evacuated. Firefighters were able to save a 150-year old church in the hamlet of Mykland which was completely surrounded by the fire Wednesday morning.

Canada

Virtually the entire population of Uranium City, Saskatchewan were flown out ahead of an advancing fire. The fire is one of 252 fires burning in Saskatchewan.

Ellreese Daniels' attorney requests support

Ellreese Daniels was the Crew Boss and Type 3 Incident Commander on the Thirtymile Fire near Winthrop, Washington in 2001 on which four members of his crew were overrun by fire and died. On January 30, 2007 the U.S. Attorney in Spokane, Washington charged him with eleven felony charges– four counts of involuntary manslaughter and seven counts of making false statements, which could have led to 56 years in prison.

On April 29 the U.S. Attorney reduced the eleven felony charges down to two misdemeanor charges of making false statements to investigators, to which Ellreese pled guilty.

Sentencing will occur August 18 and could result in probation or up to six months in jail.

Wildfire Today has posted about this case eight times.

Ellreese’s attorney, Tina Hunt, is requesting that:

“…if anyone would like to write a letter of support for Ellreese or to write a letter letting the court know how this case has affected them, I would be more than happy to collect those. I would rather they come directly to me so that I may make certain that the Court receives them.”

Her address is:

Christina Hunt
Federal Defenders of Eastern WA and ID
10 N. Post St., Ste. 700
Spokane, WA 99201

If you have been following this case on Wildfire Today, you know how I stand. I was not on the Thirtymile Fire, so all I know is what I read in the report and from talking with some people very close to the situation.

Ellreese may have made some mistakes on the fire… a fire that exhibited extreme fire behavior. He and his crew had been on their shift for 24-36 hours with little or no sleep. He met all of the training and experience qualifications. I have to assume that he did the best that he possibly could with all the tools he had at his disposal. He only wanted the best for his crew.

Any firefighter in a supervisory or leadership capacity, wildland or structural, can make mistakes. If they are subject to felony charges, decades in prison, losing their job, their retirement, and their livelihood, and ruining their lives and the lives of their families, many are not going to accept this additional risk.

Structural firefighters should be very concerned about this. Now that Ellreese has pled guilty to two misdemeanors, has that already set a precedent to a certain extent? (Any attorneys out there?) And, if he receives any kind of jail or prison sentence, will all firefighters then be subject to this procedure which will no doubt spread from wildland fire out into the larger structural fire community? Some say the U.S. Attorney that brought the 11 felony charges forward is seeking a better, higher-paying position. There are lots of District Attorneys out there that may also be looking to get their names in the paper or run for higher office.

The job has plenty of risks we can do little about. This is a risk we CAN do something about through legislation and other means.

Firefighters are now being advised by their peers to “lawyer up” if they are involved in a serious on the job accident. They will be very hesitant to say ANYTHING about it if they feel their lives could be ruined. Lessons will not be learned from mistakes. More people may be exposed to hazardous situations that could be prevented if we could talk about previous close calls or accidents.

Here is what you need to do. Take 15 minutes and invest it in your future and the safety of your fellow firefighters. Write a letter as Tina suggested, explaining how you feel about this, and how it affects you…and your family.

Tractor plows

Tractor plows are heavily used in the southeast, but many firefighters in other parts of the country are not familiar with this type of equipment. A plow can rapidly construct a fireline 6-8′ wide in almost all fuel conditions as long as it is not steep or rocky–which eliminates much of the western United States. Some plows are mounted on the front of a dozer, but many are rear-mounted.

And then there is the substantial disturbance to the ground with which many jurisdictions have a problem. It can be difficult to rehab a tractor plow fireline. It’s not exactly a “light hand on the land”.

Here are a couple of photos I took while assigned to the Blackjack Bay fire on the Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia and Florida in 2002.

The photo below show a rear-mounted unit that has wheels which can be raised when plowing operations begin.

The front of the plow. Those tires look like they lead a hard life.


Tractor plows have not changed a lot in the last 50 years. Here is drawing for patent #2990632 filed in 1958.