BTU Complex: 50 homes burn in Concow

At least 50 homes burned Tuesday in the city of Concow, California as the BTU (or Butte) Lightning Complex swept through communities 20 miles east of Chico. The entire east half of the city of Paradise, a city of 26,000, is under evacuation orders, and some areas of Magalia have also been evacuated.

If the weather forecast is accurate, Paradise and Magalia are under a severe threat from the fire. Firefighters hope to stop the fire at the West Branch of the Feather River just east of the city.

This is the third time in the last few weeks that Paradise has had a bulls eye painted on it by fires heading in their direction.

HERE is a link to a very interesting map of the fire in the area made by the newspaper in Chico, the Chico Enterprise Record. This is an amazing use of Google Maps. You might call it groundbreaking. There is a ton of information there—I hope the data is accurate. Click on the icons on the map to get details.

Record high temperatures as high as 115 in the valley on Tuesday contributed to the extreme fire behavior. Foothill temperatures were expected to be in the 90s on Tuesday.

The Weather forecast for Paradisc, CA: (note that the maximum relative humidities at night only go up to 30% and 26%)

Tuesday night: Areas of smoke. Clear, with a low around 79. Northeast wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. RH 30%.

Wednesday: Areas of smoke. Sunny and hot, with a high near 110. North northwest wind between 5 and 10 mph. RH 10%.

Wednesday Night: Areas of smoke. Clear, with a low around 77. North wind between 7 and 13 mph. RH 26%

Thursday: Areas of smoke. Sunny and hot, with a high near 108. Northeast wind 6 to 8 mph becoming west. RH 11%.

CA: Oregon firefighter drowns

An off duty firefighter drowned yesterday in the Trinity River in northern California.

The Times-Standard

A wildland firefighter from Oregon who was fighting the local fires drowned yesterday after visiting the Trinity River on his day off, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office said.

The firefighter, who was in his 30s, was visiting the river near Willow Creek, said Deputy Coroner Charles Van Buskirk.

”We’re working currently to notify his family,” Van Buskirk said late last night.

According to a press release, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Kimtu Beach in Willow Creak at about 4:30 p.m. and found about a dozen people searching for the victim.

Deputies were assessing the situation when they learned the victim had been pulled from the water near Patterson Road. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.

The firefighter was employed by a contract wildland firefighting company. Witnesses told deputies the victim attempted to swim across the river in a T-shirt and his Nomex pants. About halfway across, the man turned around and tried to return to shore.

The current began to carry him down the river and he seemed to panic, witnesses said. Another swimmer attempted to help the man, but had to swim to shore after approaching the swift current and rocks. Witnesses saw the victim go underwater and his body was recovered approximately 20 minutes later.

The decedent’s name is being withheld pending the notification of the next of kin.

Our sincere condolences for the family of this firefighter.

California fires: a record setting year?

Acres burned in California on CalFire jurisdiction lands by year:

1936– 756,696
2008– 630,886 (to date)
2007– 434,667
2003– 404,328
2006– 222,896

The numbers are provided by CNN. They did not say if these are the top 5 years, but did state that the previous high was the 1936 figure. I assume there were several other years when more than 222,896 acres burned that are not listed here, for example, 1970, when the Laguna fire east of San Diego was 165,000 acres. Many other large fires burned in 1970 as well, leading to the development of the Incident Command System.

Update @ 1400:
A little research shows that in 1985, 235,400 acres burned on the Los Padres NF alone, due mostly to the Wheeler and Gorda-Rat fires.

Update @ 1440:
More research shows that the numbers provided by CNN are only for fires on CalFire jurisdiction. Geeze. Too bad they didn’t mention this little detail. HERE is a link with CalFire numbers by year.

CA: BTU complex, more evacuations

The BTU complex of fires east of Chico made some big runs during the night and this morning, according to a local who called Wildfire Today using the “Call Me” button on the left side of this page. He said evacuations of the northeast side of Paradise and the southeast side of Magalia are in progress. The smoke, he said, that flows down the Feather River drainage and settles in the low lying areas at night has been very intense.

Information about the evacuation of part of Paradise can be found HERE.

According to the Geographic Area Coordination Center, an evacuation of Concow is ongoing, affecting 300 homes and 800-1,000 residents. The local media is reporting that at 8 a.m. this morning extreme fire behavior caused fire crews to be pulled off the fire line, due, in part, to 30 mph northeast winds.

Below is a map that was updated this afternoon. It shows heat, in red, orange, and black, detected by satellites, with the red areas being the most recently burned. The yellow lines are the latest perimeters uploaded by the incident management teams. Click on the map to see a larger version.

Deaths, injuries, and fires caused by fireworks, July 4

New Madrid, Missouri-
A New Madrid, Missouri volunteer firefighter, Bill Poley, 40, was killed when a fireworks mortar struck him while he was assisting with lighting the mortars at their local fireworks show on July 4.

Charles City, Iowa-

Thirty-seven people were injured Friday night in a malfunction during the Charles City fireworks display .


According to a spokesman at the Floyd County Medical Center, 34 people were treated at the hospital Friday night. Another three victims who suffered injuries as a result of the fireworks incident, came into the hospital today for treatment.

Assistant Fire Chief David Boehmer said today 12 of the injured were taken to Floyd County Medical Center. Condition reports were not immediately available but Boehmer said there were no fatalities.

Boehmer said the incident was apparently caused by a misfire involving 13 racks of firework tubes.

HERE is a link to a video of the malfunction.


Cincinnati, Ohio (Union Township)-
Seven people were injured when a spark fell into a bag of fireworks and exploded. Two people taken to hospitals had second-degree burns and five others – four of them children between the ages of 2 and 9 – were treated at the scene for minor burns.

Ticonderoga, New York-

Three people were injured Friday night about 10:40 p.m. during Ticonderoga’s fireworks display when a rocket prematurely exploded after its fuse was lit, sending fragments of the device in a 200 foot radius. Some fragments struck several employees of Pyro Engineering Inc. of Nassau County which was conducting the fireworks in addition to two people attending the display.


Pyro employee John M. Michalak, 42, who lit the fuse of the explosive device, was transported to Moses Ludington Hospital for lacerations and bruises on his right leg, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office said. He was later transported to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vt.

(From North Country Gazette)

Port Huron, Michigan-
A 51-year old man was critically injured when he was struck in the face by a fireworks mortar. He was listed in critical condition at a hospital in Ann Arbor.


Riverside, Ohio-
A man lost part of his leg when fireworks went off inside his SUV, blowing the windows out.

Bayville, NY-
A 6-year-old girl in Bayville, N.Y., suffered second-degree burns when fireworks landed in her lap. Investigators said it was not immediately clear who launched the fireworks but said the child was not at a public pyrotechnics display.

Toledo, Ohio-
Fireworks landing on the roofs set fire to and destroyed eight apartment buildings and damaged three others, home to 200 people.

The Solution-
I don’t know what the answer is to the injuries and fires caused by fireworks. The worst incident, injuring 37 people, was put on by a professional fireworks company, J&M Displays of Yarmouth, Iowa. Many of the other incidents were the results of individuals exercising their right of stupidity, which is difficult to legislate against. The Police Chief of Toledo where the eight apartment buildings were destroyed is calling for a fireworks ban.