TBT: firefighters caught in fire whirl

For Throwback Thursday, here is what we published on May 20, 2014 about firefighters being caught in a fire whirl:

Fire whirl, 1989
Still image from the video below of firefighters being overrun by a large fire whirl in California in 1989.

You may have seen the footage in the video below, of firefighters being overrun in 1989 by a very large fire whirl or fire tornado (or firenado) in California. It is very impressive, and can be another reason why firefighters need to be on their toes and very situationally aware.

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Kent

Documentary on the Honda Canyon Fire fatalities

Firestorm Documentary Honda Canyon FireA documentary is being produced for a multi-fatality wildfire that occurred in the 1970s.

On December 20, 1977, three people were entrapped and killed on the Honda Canyon fire on Vandenberg Air Force Base in southern California, including the Base Commander Colonel Joseph Turner, Fire Chief Billy Bell, and Assistant Fire Chief Eugene Cooper. Heavy Equipment Operator Clarence McCauley suffered severe burns and later died from the complications.  A book about the fire, “Beyond Tranquillon Ridge”, was written by Joseph N. Valencia.

Mr. Valencia, one of the first firefighters on the fire, is serving as a technical consultant on the documentary, titled “Firestorm”, which is adapted from the book.

Here is how Mr. Valencia described the fire to us in an email:

A combination of hurricane-force winds and the snapping of an electrical pole starts the Honda Canyon Fire on Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, early in the morning of December 20, 1977. Over a thousand people consisting of professional firemen and military personnel fight the fire. Outlier winds would increase to over a hundred miles per hour, making the firefight almost impossible. Four fatalities and sixty-five injuries resulted. Ten-thousand acres burn, resulting in significant damage to the military installation infrastructure. Ironically and fortuitously, the fire will be out, a little more than 30 hours later, due to a rain storm-front coming in.

Others folks working on the film include producer Dennis R. Ford, and
Christopher Hite, Director of Photography and Cinematographer.

Many interviews have been filmed with people that were on the incident. One of the many reasons for making the documentary is to collect information about the catastrophe that occurred 42 years ago while the witnesses and participants are still available. You can view some of the interviews at the film’s Facebook page.

The trailer for the film is on Vimeo.

They are hoping to complete production by early 2020.

Mr. Valencia also wrote Area Ignition, the story of the 1979 Spanish Ranch Fire near Santa Maria, California.

Vegetation fire spreads to vehicle dealership — 86 cars damaged or destroyed

Vegetation fire Bakersfield, CA burns 85 cars
Vegetation fire in Bakersfield, CA destroys or damages 86 cars. Screenshot from 23 ABC News.

A vegetation fire that started along the 99 freeway in Bakersfield, California Monday spread into a car lot and damaged or destroyed 86 cars.

A preliminary investigation is centered on a truck that was dragging a chain, creating sparks that ignited grass adjacent to the highway in spots scattered along a four-mile stretch.

The cars were in the CarMax lot at 6801 Colony Street. An information officer from the Bakersfield Fire Department said 26 cars were totaled and another 60 were damaged. The estimated monetary loss is $2.1 million.

CAL FIRE frequently reminds the public about the danger of dragging chains.

cal fire dragging chains start fire

Red Flag Warnings in Nevada this week

fire weather red flag warning
Red Flag Warning

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for areas of Western Nevada and Northwest California from 11 a.m. Wednesday until 1 a.m. Friday. The forecast calls for southwest winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts at 40 to 45 with relative humidity levels at 8 to 10 percent. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for Southern Nevada for the same time frame and similar weather conditions.

(Red Flag Warnings can be modified throughout the day as NWS offices around the country update and revise their weather forecasts.)


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.

CAL FIRE adopts mascot

They hope Captain Cal will help them connect with children

Captain Cal
Captain Cal. Screenshot from CBS Sacramento video.

Fire safety mascots have been around at least since since the 1950s, such as Smokey Bear for wildfires and Sparky the Fire Dog for structure fires. Forestín, the official mascot of the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) of Chile, was created in 1976.

Now the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has adopted its own mascot. Captain Cal, based on a mountain lion, was introduced to the public earlier this week at the state capitol in Sacramento.

CAL FIRE hopes that the mountain lion character will help them connect with young people about fire safety, wildfires, and other topics.

“We want to make sure we get a character out there that identifies all safety hazards,” CAL FIRE information officer Richard Cordova said, “not only just wildland, but pool safety, earthquake safety, whatever message we want to push we will use Captain Cal to do that.”

Disney animators helped design Captain Cal, the mountain lion that walks erect on two legs. Of course Smokey does also.

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