Marc Mullenix- RIP

Marc Mullenix
Marc Mullenix

Marc Mullenix passed away last night. Last year he was a Type 1 Incident Commander trainee on Kim Martin’s Incident Management Team in the Rocky Mountain Geographic Area. Some of his past jobs included Wildland Fire Division Chief for the Boulder Fire Department, Fire Management Officer for Mesa Verde National Park, and Fairmont Fire Protection District, all in Colorado.

We will post more information after funeral services have been planned.

Marc Mullenix–rest in peace.

Flashlight That Can Start a Fire

Here is a flashlight that produces enough heat to start a fire, at least in paper and plastic. I wonder if it would be practical for burning out or backfiring in light fuels if you ran out of fusees or drip torch fuel? It costs about $300 and the battery only lasts 15 minutes, so maybe I just answered my own question. The website for the flashlight, WickedLasers, has received so many hits it is down, but it may be up later.

US Fire Experts Assist Kingdom of Bhutan

Wakimoto, Shulman, Roeder
Professor Ronald Wakimoto, Deanne Shulman, and Alissa Roeder. Photo courtesy of the Royal Government of Bhutan

Some familiar names in wildland fire in the United States assisted the Kingdom of Bhutan January 25-27 by providing advice about the use of the Incident Command System in dealing with wildland fires, landslides, and floods. Professor Ronald Wakimoto from the University of Montana, Deanne Shulman, the first female smokejumper in the U.S., and Alissa Roeder, the Superintendent of the Pike Hot Shots, (all left to right in the photo) were part of the delegation that helped put on the workshop.

In case you are not familiar with the Kingdom of Bhutan (I had to look it up), it is a landlocked country sandwiched between India and China and is one of the most isolated and least developed nations in the world.

Glenn Beck: "…people who hate America… are losing their homes in a forest fire today."

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Harris fire Mount MiguelYou may have heard of Glenn Beck. He appears on CNN Headline News and also has a nationally-syndicated radio show. I rarely agree with anything he says, but I just found out that on his October 22 radio show, while the Witch Creek, Harris, and other fires were burning in southern California, he said:

“I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.”

Both fires started in eastern San Diego county and were pushed by strong Santa Ana winds into the outskirts of San Diego. In the Harris and Witch Creek fires, a total of 1,246 homes burned, 7 people were killed, and a CalFire engine crew was entrapped and seriously burned.

Beck contradicted himself several times, but his rationale is that since California is predominantly a Democratic state, and since he believes that Democrats “hate America”, that the homes of people who hate America were burning. Of course Beck is an idiot, but to say this while over 1,000 homes are burning and 500,000 residents are being evacuated is the height of irresponsibility, insensitivity, and stupidity.

According to Media Matters, Beck has also said

“it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims’ families” and referred to Hurricane Katrina survivors as “scumbags”

(photo is of the Harris Fire burning on Mount San Miguel east of San Diego, October 23, 2007; from Wikipedia)

Article About Current Issues in Wildland Fire

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There is an excellent article by Richard Manning about some of the issues we are currently facing in wildland fire. Manning interviewed two well-known figures in the Northern Rockies area, George Weldon, Deputy Director for Fire and Aviation for the USFS in the Northern Rockies Region, and Orville Daniels, retired Forest Supervisor of the Lolo National Forest.

These two men show remarkable insight and candor in describing fire management strategy… what works and what doesn’t. Weldon is quoted as saying:

“[The Ahorn] was a fire we went after very aggressively,” Weldon says. “We put in a couple loads of smoke jumpers, a hotshot crew, aviation assets. We spent a lot of money on that fire. We exposed a lot of folks. We crashed a helicopter. We had a shelter deployment on that fire. Despite all that, we influenced that fire very minimally, and we spent $18 million trying.”

Weldon goes on to say:

“I think it is disrespectful to tell people we are going to protect their structures when we don’t have the capability,” he says. “What’s different is that the environment we are living in and working in is going to demand that we look at it differently. I don’t think we have a choice.”

A big thanks to Dick Mangan for the tip on this article.