CA: Indians fire update

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The Indians fire on the Los Padres National Forest in California this afternoon, Tuesday, destroyed more structures, including 1 residence, 3 second homes, 10 outbuildings and a motorhome. Several other structures in the area were saved by some of the 2,200 firefighters working on the incident which started from a campfire on June 8 and is now 35,339 acres. The containment percentage today decreased from 46% to 35% due to extreme fire behavior on the southeast side.

The map below shows the perimeter as of 0600 on June 17. Click on it to see a larger version.

Night air ops in San Diego County?

Some politicians still believe that if there had been another hour or two of daylight left when the 2003 Cedar Fire started, which burned 273,000 acres in San Diego county, it could have been stopped with a few bucket drops from the medium helicopter that was in the area. The truth is, that fire was pushed by very strong Santa Ana winds and it was off to the races in minutes. No aircraft could have stopped that fire in those conditions. No aircraft.

Air drops are worthless if there are no ground forces nearby to take advantage of them and put in hose lays or hand line. When the Cedar fire started it was much too dangerous for ground forces to directly attack the fire under the extreme conditions created by the strong winds, the vegetation, and the terrain. And if the wind is blowing the water or retardant sideways, it’s a waste of time and money, as well as being dangerous for the pilots.

But these facts have not stopped the San Diego County Board of Supervisors from pushing for night flying capability for firefighting aircraft. Supervisor Pam Slater-Price called night flying by water-dropping aircraft

“…a must-have” for the county. “We can’t afford to have out-of-date bureaucratic rules compromise public safety,” Slater-Price said. “I’m tired of excuses as to why it can’t be done.”

The Board of Supervisors is sending a letter to the State of California and the U.S. Forest Service asking them to begin negotiating rules that will allow for nighttime aerial firefighting in their jurisdictions.

Humbolt fire looters

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Ray Dalton, the former mayor of Paradise, California, put up this sign.

Wildfire today covered the Humbolt fire earlier HERE; it burned 74 homes and 23,000 acres. Many of the homes destroyed were in the town of Paradise. Dalton put up the sign after he was told by police about residential burglaries during the evacuations. His home was spared by the fire, unlike many of those around him, but he plans to keep up the sign as a reminder to the gawkers cruising through the neighborhood.

Jay Grivette’s home was one of those burglarized. He is thankful that he had installed a security system that records video of the property which captured images of a white male entering the home. Police later arrested Jose Antonio Hernandez, 20, and charged him with burglary and looting. Evidence was also recovered at Hernandez’s residence.

A photo taken with an infrared camera by Grivette’s security system shows the intruder who broke into his residence.

It’s a shame that Grivette’s home was burglarized, but at least it appears that the scum that broke into his house will be brought to justice.

Photos courtesy of

NC: Evans Road fire update

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The Evans Road fire in eastern North Carolina is going to be with us until a hurricane-style rain event occurs. It takes a lot of water to penetrate into several feet of peat. The size of the fire is being reported as 41,060 acres. The firefighters are still pumping huge quantities of water from nearby lakes onto the fire–19,000 gallons per minute.

In addition to Hendricks Type 2 Incident Management Team, there are two National Incident Management Organization teams on the fire, Custer’s and Whitney’s. There are 476 people working on the fire and it is 40% contained.

Below is a map showing the fire perimeter in yellow–and in red, orange, and black, the heat detected by satellites last night. I have not seen any evidence of the massive burnout operation the fire spokesperson mentioned last week that was going to occur on the east side along highway 94. Click on the map and photo to see larger versions.

The picture below shows a burnout operation on Seagoing Road.
Photo courtesy of InciWeb.

Engine burnover near Lincoln, California

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Another engine burnover–this time it was two Placer County Fire Department brush engines on the Nicolaus fire near Lincoln, CA on June 11. Here is an excerpt from CalFire’s “24-hour report” recently released:

On June 11, 2008 at 0949 hours, Placer County Fire units were dispatched to a vegetation fire at Nicolaus Road near Dowd Road, west of the City of Lincoln in Placer County. The fire occurred during a north wind event under a Red Flag Warning. BR 75, staffed with one Placer County Volunteer Firefighter, arrived first at scene reporting a wind driven five acre fire.

BR 75 drove down a dirt road paralleling the left flank of the fire. Engine 70 (E70) arrived and reported 7-10 acres with no structures threatened and assumed incident command (IC). BR 73 arrived next, staffed with one CAL FIRE Fire Apparatus Engineer and one Firefighter I. BR 73 followed BR 75 down the dirt road on the left flank. The right flank was inaccessible at this time.

Approximately seven minutes into the fire, E70 (IC) reported that units were being burned over. Appropriate EMS was requested.

The volunteer firefighter from BR 75 sought refuge on the leeward side of the apparatus. The fire intensity continued to increase and he retreated to safety, crossing a barbed wire fence, into a stubble field immediately to the east of the dirt road. He was met by apparatus and personnel from Lincoln Fire Department and escorted to ambulance personnel.

The CAL FIRE Firefighters from BR 73 tried to seek refuge in the cab, but were quickly overrun. They retreated through the flame front to the west, into the burn. Both of the firefighters walked north through the burn and exited where E70 was parked on Nicolaus Road.

All firefighters were treated and transported to UC Davis Medical Center. The volunteer firefighter from BR 75 received burns to the nose, was treated and released. The firefighters from BR 73 remain in the Burn Unit in stable condition with burns to the face and hands. They are expected to remain at UC Davis Medical Center for 7 to 10 days.

The Nicolaus Fire was contained at 1140 hours to 65 acres on June 11, 2008.

More details about Los Padres engine burnover

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The US Forest Service released some additional information about the engine burnover that occurred on the Indians fire on the Los Padres National Forest in California on June 11:

Narrative: At approximately 1615 hours while supporting a firing operation, Engine-71 was involved in a localized fire blow-up. A cyclonic fire wind event caused four members of Engine-71 to be overcome by the fire. The crew was suppressing spot fires near the roads edge when they experienced extreme fire and wind behavior. Winds were estimated to be 60 – 70 mph. Limbs from large oak trees were blown out of trees and small, golf ball size rocks, were thrown into the air. The radiant heat caused the burns to the fire fighters. Initially, the firefighters were treated at the ICP medical unit, two were sent to a local hospital for further treatment and the most serious burn victim was flown to Valley Burn Center in Santa Clara. A fourth firefighter did not initially seek treatment. After further consideration, the 4th firefighter chose to see a physician. The three firefighters have been referred to the Fresno Burn Center for further examination.

An Accident Prevention Analysis (APA) team has been ordered to review this incident.