Four crews complete their fire assignments in Alberta

hotshot fire crew Alberta
Snake River IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.

@AlbertaWildfire sent out a tweet today with four pictures saying goodby to four crews that had been assisting in the Province:

Today we say goodbye to our US firefighters that assisted us at the McMillan Complex in the Slave Lake Forest area. Thank you to the Prineville, Logan, Union and Snake River Hotshot Crews; we appreciate the support. Safe travels and all the best back home! #ABfire #ABwildfire

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

hotshot fire crew Alberta
Logan IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.

(Let us know which crew is which and we’ll add the crew names in captions. UPDATE — got them all identified. Thanks!)

hotshot fire crew Alberta
Union IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.
Prineville IHC Alberta
Prineville IHC. Alberta, June, 2019.

In addition to a number of U.S. firefighters in Alberta, at least 11 crews from the lower 48 states are assigned in Alaska according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center: Los Padres, Lewis and Clark, Chief Mountain, Golden Eagles, Crane Valley, Idaho Panhandle, Lakeview, Redmond, Vale, Wolf Creek, and Winema.

L-188 air tanker makes emergency wheels-up landing

The four people on board walked away

air tanker l-188 wheels up landing red deer alberta
Tanker 490, an L-188, made an emergency landing June 22, 2019 at Red Deer Regional Airport when it had problems with the landing gear. Screenshot from the video below just before it touched down on the runway.

(This article was first published at Fire Aviation)

One of Air Spray’s four-engine L-188 Electras had a problem with its landing gear June 22 and had to make an emergency wheels-up landing at Red Deer Regional Airport in Alberta.

Red Deer News Now reported that according to Graham Ingham, CEO at the airport, the incident happened around 12:20 p.m.

“We had an Air Spray air tanker, an Electra-type aircraft, perform an emergency landing due to the fact it couldn’t get its main landing gear down. After a couple of attempts, they decided that it would be safer to do a wheels up landing, and subsequently they did. Thankfully they came to a complete stop. There were no injuries, no fire and it was the best outcome for everyone.”

Mr. Ingham said two pilots and two other people on board walked away from Air Tanker 490 without any injuries.

The video below shows what looks like an excellent landing, considering the circumstances.

air tanker 490 landing gear Red Deer Airport
Air Tanker 490 had a problem with the landing gear at Red Deer Airport, June 22, 2019 and had to make an emergency landing. Photo courtesy of Red Deer Airport.
Air tanker 481 Lockheed Electra L188
File photo of another Air Spray L-188, Air Tanker 481, at McClellan, March 12, 2018. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The cause of the landing gear problem has not been released.

Other firefighting aircraft have had landing gear problems:

Firefighters staging in Sacramento to assist with wildfires in Canada

U.S. firefighters assist wildfires in Canada
Firefighters prepare to board flights at Sacramento Sacramento Airport to assist with wildfires in western Canada, June 21, 2019. USFS photo.

On Friday U.S. Forest Service firefighters from several National Forests in California assembled at the Sacramento McClellan Airport as they were mobilized to assist with wildfires in Western Canada.

U.S. firefighters assist wildfires in Canada
Firefighters prepare to board flights at Sacramento Sacramento Airport to assist with wildfires in western Canada, June 21, 2019. USFS photo.

There is a report that two 20-person crews from South Africa are also en route.

U.S. crews en route to assist with wildfires in Canada

Firefighters, heavy equipment, and aircraft continue to work on the McMillan Complex in Alberta which is approximately 22km northeast of the junction of Highway 88 and Highway 754. The complex is comprised of 4 wildfires that are a combined 215,065 hectares (531,439 acres) in size. Alberta Fire photo.

At least five hotshot crews from Oregon and Montana will be leaving Wednesday to assist with the wildfires in Alberta.

Kathy Bushnell of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest said Montana hotshot crews from the Helena, Lolo, Bitterroot and Flathead national forests will travel north with the Rogue River Hotshots from Oregon.

Deb Schweizer of the USFS office in Boise told Wildfire Today that an additional 15 personnel are being mobilized for a variety of overhead positions.

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

Chuckegg Creek Fire in Alberta grows to over half a million acres

Will it become a million-acre “gigafire”?

Map Chuckegg Creek Fire Northern Alberta
Map of the Chuckegg Creek Fire in Northern Alberta at 3:50 a.m. MDT May 30, 2019. The shaded areas represent heat detected by a satellite during the previous seven days.

The Chuckegg Creek Fire in Northern Alberta near the town of High Level was very active over the last 48 hours while being pushed by strong winds. Exhibiting extreme fire behavior, it grew to the south about 11 miles, and while moving 12 miles to the east it crossed Highway 35 and jumped the Peace River both north and south of the ferry crossing on Highway 697.

Alberta Wildfire estimated it has burned 230,000 hectares, or 568,000 acres.

Below is an excerpt from an update by Alberta Wildfire about the Chuckegg Creek Fire, issued May 30, 2019:

The Chuckegg Creek Fire experienced extreme fire behaviour yesterday with significant growth to the south towards Paddle Prairie, across Highway 35 by Highway 697 and spotted across the Peace River. Continued hot and dry conditions along with variable, gusty winds have proved a challenge to firefighting efforts and safety. Municipal firefighters and heavy equipment responded, with structure protection established as possible to the south of the fire. The fire also experienced growth to the west and continued fire activity on the north part of the fire around Watt Mountain.

Firefighters, heavy equipment, and aircraft are assessing the situation given the recent fire growth and will focus on priority areas. Structural protection and municipal firefighters are working to protect values. The weather forecast today anticipates cooler temperatures and higher minimum relative humidity, though winds today are expected to remain gusty and are expected to come primarily from the north.

I believe that the fire started during the week of May 12. It reached the 100,000-acre threshold to become a “megafire” on May 20. Now that it has easily grown to 568,000 acres, I wonder if it will reach a million acres to become a “gigafire”. A bushfire that started October 11, 2018 in Western Australia 120km southeast of Broome burned 880,000 hectares, or 2,174,527 acres.

The weather for the next seven days at the fire’s location will be variable, with a chance of rain on Saturday, Monday, and Thursday of next week, so there will not be many days conducive to explosive fire growth.

Satellite photo showing the three major fires active in Northern Alberta

wildfires in Northern Alberta May 28, 2019 Satellite photo
Satellite photo showing the location of wildfires in Northern Alberta May 28, 2019. Click to enlarge.

This satellite photo taken at 5:40 p.m. MDT April 28 shows the locations of three major wildfires in Northern Alberta. The imagery was enhanced to enhanced to show the heat generated by the active fires.

As predicted, the wind on Tuesday was out of the west which made the east sides of the fire more active than they had been in recent days. As you can see in the photo large amounts of smoke are flowing off to the east. Click here to see an analysis and map of wildfire smoke in North America today.

The northern-most fire identified on the map is a relatively new blaze, known as “066”. Alberta Wildfire said Tuesday afternoon,  “[The fire] is approximately 6 km west of Highway 35 near Steen River. Highway 35 North of High Level is closed due to smoke – monitor Alberta511 for updated highway conditions.”

The air quality in the town of High Level, Alberta has reached dangerous levels.