Incident Management Teams committed

The National Situation Report shows that 16 Type 1 Incident Management Teams and 3 National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) Teams are assigned. The national IMTeam rotation page, which apparently has not been updated in a while, lists 17 Type 1 Teams, with one of those shown as “unavailable”. So apparently, all of the Type 1 Teams that are available are committed to fires.

There are 3 or 4 NIMO Teams. The status of the brand new Phoenix and Portland Teams is unclear, but one of them must be operational in addition to the previously organized Boise and Atlanta Teams, since a total of 3 are assigned.

I’m scared to link to the regular IMTeam web site, since simply opening the site in your web browser last week installed a virus or trojan on your computer. They claim the problem is fixed now. I am probably being overly cautious, but for a while at least, if I don’t have to go there, I won’t. The NIMO site and the IMTeam rotation pages are on different systems and did not have a virus problem.

Update on fires on the Shasta-Trinity NF

From the U.S. Forest Service, Shasta-T. fires only, updated at 8 p.m., June 28:

Lime Complex Incident Command Post is at Hayfork, CA. Evacuations are in effect for the Platina area due to the Noble Fire, and in Wildwood due to the Telephone Fire. This complex includes about 79 fires ranging from small spots to fires over 9,000 acres. Hyampom continues to be threatened by fires. The Yolla Bolly Wilderness is closed.

Iron Complex Incident Command Post is at Junction City , CA . The Canyon Creek area and Helena remain under an evacuation order due to activity on the Eagle Fire. Slattery Pond is still under a voluntary evacuation. The Iron Complex is now managing 21 fires with some over 7,000 acres. The Ironsides and Don Juan fires have grown together.

Alps Complex – Fifteen fires (formerly part of Iron Complex) totaling 2,445 acres are assigned to a new Management Team. Most fires are in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area. The Buckhorn Fire has backed down to a dozer line at the private Brooks Ranch.

Mars Martin air tanker: more problems

The 61-year old amphibious air tanker on contract from a Canadian firm had still more mechanical problems on it’s second attempt to make the 4-hour flight to Lake Shasta near Redding, California. On Friday it was 10 minutes from landing on the lake when it lost an engine and returned to their base in British Columbia. After making repairs, it took off again on Saturday, but the engine did not feel right to the pilots, so they returned to their base again. The owners of the plane expect to try again on Sunday, June 29, to fly it to Lake Shasta.

On Saturday there were so many spectators at Shasta Dam watching fires in the area and hoping to see the air tanker land on the lake that authorities had to close the loop road to the dam for safety.

The owner of the aircraft, Coulson Flying Tankers, has a second Martin Mars, but it is out of service at their base in British Columbia.

While we’re waiting for the ship to show up in California, here is a little air tanker porn for you. Or if you prefer, air tanker eye candy. You have to admit, it’s a very nice looking aircraft. I hope they can get the mechanical problems sorted out.

File photo, courtesy of Coulson Flying Tankers

Boy injured by bison

On Friday, a Pennsylvania family in Yellowstone National Park was shrewdly standing right next to a mature bull bison, posing for pictures, when the bison, having had enough of that crap, flipped a 12-year-old boy 10 feet into the air. Witnesses said the boy was within 1-2 feet of the bison despite repeated warnings from other visitors.

The boy was not gored by the bison’s horns, but had some abrasions caused by hitting the ground following his airborne adventure. Since he complained of abdominal pain, he was flown to a medical center in Idaho Falls.

This becomes the third time Wildfire Today has used the word “idiot” as a label for a post.

More dry lightning for northern California

From the Weather Service– issued at 5:32 a.m. PDT June 29:

RED FLAG WARNING FOR DRY LIGHTNING THROUGH 11 PM TONIGHT FOR THE MOUNTAINS OF EASTERN SHASTA COUNTY …THE BURNEY BASIN …AND FOR THE NORTHERN SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS NORTH OF I-80.

One of these days the Weather Service is going to un-stick their caps-lock keys.

U.S. Forest Service's "Key Messages"

The U. S. Forest Service in California is aggressively trying to get certain messages out about the fire situation in northern California by issuing a laundry list containing 10 “Key Messages“. They took the extraordinary step of having them inserted into the Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center’s “News and Notes”, which usually contains just the bare facts and numbers about initial attacks and ongoing fires.

This may be in response to allegations by some that the USFS is losing many key firefighters to agencies that have much better pay and benefits packages, leaving the agency in California with too many unfilled positions and unstaffed engines. Here are some samples of the USFS “Key Messages”:

KM1: The Forest Service has over 4,000 firefighters stationed and available in California. They are engaged in aggressive firefighting efforts throughout the state.

KM2: The Forest Service can mobilize resources from other regions and states. We are ordering additional resources with support nationwide. We have even received international assistance from Canada with the Martin Mars aircraft.

(note from Wildfire Today: Wildfire Today reported on the Martin Mars air tanker here. It’s not exactly “international assistance from Canada”. The USFS recently signed it up under contract, just like any other contract resource. On both Friday and Saturday, the 61-year old ship made aborted attempts to fly down from British Columbia but had engine problems before landing on Lake Shasta and returned to Canada using just 3 engines. They will try a third time on Sunday. A Canadian infrared aircraft is also on contract and is being used in northern California, along with the two USFS infrared ships, and UAV’s from NASA, the Air Force, and the Navy.)

KM5: Every Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) available in the country is currently in California. MAFFS are able to drop up to 3,000 gallons of water.

(“water”? The MAFFS drop long-term fire retardant. There are 6 MAFFS’s working, based out of McClellan. Last year there were approximately 16 large airtankers under federal contracts. This compares to 45+ during the “Siege of ’87”, another huge lightning bust in northern California.)

KM7: We recognize changing conditions and adjust by moving resources accordingly. For example, we may redirect people from one fire to help with another fire. By making progress on the Indians Fire, we were able to send those resources to the Basin Fire, (both on the Los Padres NF) ensuring of course that the firefighters get plenty of rest.

KM8: We are constantly moving, mobilizing and making adjustments on our resources. This is a standard operating procedure. We have been fighting fires successfully for over 100 years. This is what we do best.

(KM7 and KM8 are duplicates. “Moving resources” has been Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey’s answer to the allegations of a lack of adequate resources due to retention problems within the USFS in California.)

KM9: Fuels are extremely dry and research has documented strong links between past climate variability and area burned in wildfires, particularly in the western United States. Projections from climate models suggest that burned areas and fire severity will increase in the future over much of the United States. These changes will affect fire suppression costs and resources, alter ecosystem characteristics, and increase potential fire risk to communities. (*See further approved Climate Change talking points at http://www.fs.fed.us/research/fsgc/briefing-papers/3-CC-FS-and-Fire.pdf

(In other words, “It’s not our fault.”)