The National Park Service today released the report on last August’s Big Meadow escaped prescribed fire in Yosemite National Park. The report was completed on November 9, but it was not made available to the public until today.
The project was intended to be an 89-acre prescribed fire in a meadow in Yosemite Valley, but it was declared a wildfire 55 minutes after completing the test burn. The fire blackened 7,425 acres before being controlled by 1,300 firefighters at a cost over $15 million. It became the eighth largest fire in California in 2009.
Here are some key points from the report. (Passages in “quotes” are taken directly out of the report, word for word. Everything thing else is paraphrased or summarized.)
- The test fire began at 10:15 on August 26, 2009. There is conflicting information in the report about the spot fire(s) that occurred at 11:00. There was either a small spot fire outside the perimeter, or there was “group torching of a thicket of small diameter Ponderosa pines” resulting in several spot fires that were suppressed.
- The ignition of the main burn began at 11:15. Five minutes later at 11:20 a spot fire was found 10 feet outside the line in some pine regeneration. At 11:40 two burning snags were discovered outside the line. At 11:55 there were multiple spot fires burning and a helicopter was ordered for water bucket support.
- The project was designated a wildfire at 12:10 and “aggressive suppression action began”.