Helicopter crashes while working on the Polles Fire in Arizona

(Updated at 8:18 p.m. MDT July 7, 2020)

Map helicopter crash Arizona Payson Polles Fire
Map showing heat detected on the Polles Fire by satellites at 2:06 a.m. MDT July 7, 2020.

Officials from the Tonto National Forest confirmed that a helicopter crashed today while working on the Polles Fire in central Arizona. The only person on board was the pilot, who was deceased. He was identified in a press conference as Bryan Boatman, 37, with Airwest Helicopters out of Glendale, Arizona. He leaves behind a wife and 8-year-old child.

The Chief of the Pine-Strawberry Fire District said the pilot’s wife arrived at the Payson Airport as the body was being retrieved from the accident scene.

The helicopter crashed north of the main fire in a remote area only accessible on foot or by helicopter while transporting supplies for hand crews. After the crash was reported to the fire’s Incident Commander at 12:22 p.m. Tuesday, a Sergeant with Sheriff’s office was transported to the scene via short haul, suspended on a rope under a helicopter. He began the process of the investigation and removing the pilot’s remains.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the UH-1H helicopter went down about 10 miles west of Payson.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) has been issued at the Payson airport due to the crash, Airport Coordinator Dennis Dueker said. All flights in the area will be grounded until the TFR is lifted.

As of Monday night the Polles Fire had burned 580 acres 11 miles west of Payson, Arizona.

The Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team (IMT) #2 led by John Pierson was scheduled to assume command of the fire July 6 at 6 a.m.

Six hotshot crews and three other hand crews are working in conditions described by the incident management team as extreme. They have been working shifts late into the evening for the last few nights, spiked out in remote locations relying on helicopters to fly in their food, drinking water, and supplies.

The IMT said there are no current threats from the fire to the communities of Pine-Strawberry or Payson.

The fire started July 3 from lightning. It is only accessible by helicopter.

Polles Fire
Smoke from the Polles Fire. InciWeb photo posted July 6, 2020.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of the pilot, and the firefighters that were working on the Polles Fire.

Thanks and tips of the hat go out to Tom, Eric, and Kelly. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Evacuations southeast of Minden, NV for Numbers Fire

17 miles south of Carson City

(UPDATED at 9:22 p.m. MDT July 7, 2020)

Numbers Fire map Minden Nevada
Numbers Fire map, showing heat detected by a satellite as late as 3:48 p.m. MDT July 7, 2020.

On Tuesday afternoon the Numbers fire six miles southeast of Minden, Nevada spread an additional two miles to the east, pushed by strong winds. Our very unofficial estimate based on satellite data is that by 4 p.m. Tuesday it had burned approximately 12,000 acres.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Numbers Fire, including the most recent, click here.)


(Updated at 3 p.m. MDT July 7, 2020)

Numbers Fire Nevada wildfire Carson City Minden
Numbers Fire, Bald Mountain cam.

Residents directed to evacuate from the Numbers Fire are being directed to motels, rather than more conventional evacuation centers such as fairgrounds or sports facilities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fire has burned 7,500 acres 17 miles south of Carson City, Nevada and 6 miles southeast of Minden. The area is described as the Pine Nuts, in the Pine View area of Gardnerville.

Numbers Fire map
Numbers Fire map, showing heat detected by a satellite at 3:24 a.m. MDT July 7, 2020.

Fire officials said one “structure” has burned in addition to 10 outbuildings.

Tow ALERT Wildfire cameras have good views of the fire, Ridge Tahoe and Bald Mountain. The fire appears to be close to the latter camera.

Numbers Fire Nevada wildfire Carson City Minden
Numbers Fire, Ridge Tahoe cam.
Numbers Fire Nevada wildfire Carson City Minden
Numbers Fire, July 6, 2020. Photo by Tallac Hotshots.
Numbers Fire Nevada wildfire Carson City Minden
Numbers Fire, July 6, 2020. Photo by Tallac Hotshots.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dan. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Soledad Fire burns over 1,000 acres east of Santa Clarita, CA

In Los Angeles County

(UPDATED at 1:50 p.m. PDT July 6, 2020)

At a 9 a.m. press briefing today a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said an updated size estimate of the Soledad Fire east of Santa Clarita is 1,300 acres but the number could grow a little, they said. The priority, as usual, is of course to put in a control line around the fire. The briefing did not include information about what the fire was doing, for example spreading rapidly or slowly, or if the spread had been stopped. Thus, it is probably safe to assume that the agency expects little additional spread of the fire.

This will be our final update on the fire unless the situation changes.

Map Soledad Fire


(UPDATED at 5:20 a.m. PDT July 6, 2020)

Caltrans announced at 10:46 Sunday night that SR-14 which had been closed due to the Soledad Fire east of Santa Clarita has been partially opened. All lanes southbound are open and the two left northbound lanes are open. (At 11:15 a.m. July 6 the lane closures were the same)

There has been no update on the size of the fire since officials said at 8:20 p.m. Sunday it was 1,100 acres.


(Originally published at 9:12 p.m. PDT July 5, 2020)

Map Soledad Fire
Map showing aircraft over the Soledad Fire at 7:15 p.m. PDT July 5, 2020. The flight path of an air attack ship circling the fire is seen in green. FlightRadar24.

The Soledad Fire spread quickly near Highway 14 and Agua Dulce Canyon Road east of Santa Clarita, California after it was reported at 3:28 p.m. PDT July 5. Helicopters and about half a dozen or so air tankers assisted firefighters until dark, after which night flying helicopters will likely continue to drop water. Some of the air tankers were reloading with retardant at Mojave Air and Space Port 40 miles to the northwest.

Evacuations are under way near Agua Dulce Road and Soledad Canyon Road. Highway 14 is closed in both directions.

The 400 firefighters on the incident are under unified command with Los Angeles County and the U.S. Forest Service.

At 8:20 p.m. Sunday fire officials estimated the size at 1,100 acres. During the first few hours strong winds of 20-30 mph were pushing the fire, but later decreased in speed.

The Soledad Fire has been burning south of Highway 14 but threatens to cross the highway.

Soledad Fire
Soledad Fire at 7 p.m. PDT July 5, 2020, looking south. @NBCLA.
Aircraft at Mojave Air and Space Port working the Soledad Fire map
Firefighting aircraft reloading with retardant at Mojave Air and Space Port while working the Soledad Fire at 7:16 p.m. PDT July 5, 2020. FlightRadar24.

Chatridge 2 Fire burns over 400 acres south of Denver

In Douglas County

(UPDATED at 3:41 p.m. MDT June 30, 2020)

Investigators from the South Metro Fire Rescue Fire Marshal’s Office determined that an electrical malfunction on a power pole started the Chatridge 2 Fire that burned 461 acres south of Denver yesterday.

The South Metro public information officer said the first Chatridge Fire occurred in 2016, “same area and same cause”.

The fire is still 100 percent contained and firefighters are mopping up today. 

Tankers 22 (a P-3, N922AU) and 02 (a BAe-146, NJ474NA)
Tankers 02 (left, a BAe-146, N474NA) and T-22 (a P-3, N922AU) were working the Chatridge 2 Fire and reloading at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (Jeffco) 6-29-2020. Shane Hervey photo.

More photos of air tankers at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (Jeffco) taken June 29 are at Fire Aviation.


(Originally published at 3:31 p.m. MDT June 29, 2020)

Chatridge 2 Fire Denver map
Map showing the location of the Chatridge 2 Fire south of Denver, June 29, 2020.

In about four and a half hours today the Chatridge 2 Fire burned 456 acres south of Denver in Douglas County, finally bumping up against structures south of Highway 470 and east of Highway 85.

Firefighters stopped the spread of the fire as it reached Skydance Drive, thanks to the help of at least three large air tankers and multiple helicopters.

The fire moved quickly through brush and grass pushed by 17 mph winds gusting to 34 mph while the relative humidity was in the low teens.

It was reported at 9:49 a.m. and the spread was stopped at 2:42 p.m. MDT, June 29.

One of the large air tankers was Tanker 02 (N474NA), a BAe-146 dispatched out of Pueblo. There was also a P-3, Tanker 22 (N922AU), that just came on duty yesterday on the first exclusive use contract ever issued by the state of Colorado. An MD87 was also seen over the fire.  The large air tankers were slated to work the fire until about 3:30 p.m.

Chatridge 2 fire
Chatridge 2 Fire. Photo by Jason Mowry @jmowry11 at 2:05 p.m. MDT June 29, 2020.

(UPDATED at 4:27 p.m. MDT June 29, 2020)

Map Chatridge 2 Fire
Map of the Chatridge 2 Fire produced by Colorado’s Multi-Mission Aircraft.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean. Typos or errors, report them HERE.