Electrical company contractors agree to pay $370 million for San Diego County fires

Two companies that performed work for San Diego Gas and Electric agreed to pay a total of $370 million for their roles in the 2007 Witch Creek and Guejito fires in San Diego County. Davey Tree Expert Company was a contractor doing hazard reduction for SDG&E, trimming trees near power lines. A fallen sycamore branch is believed to have started the Guejito fire near Fallbrook, Californina.

PAR Electrical replaced and modified a power pole that has been linked to the ignition of the 198,000-acre Witch Creek fire which started near Santa Ysabel during 100 mph Santa Ana winds. The fires destroyed more than 1,300 homes, killed two people, and caused massive evacuations.

The $370 will be paid to SDG&E which has already agreed to pay $686 million to insurance companies that paid claims to their customers for the Witch Creek, Guejito and Rice Canyon fires. The company also agreed in a 2010 settlement with the California Public Utilities Commission to pay the state of California $14.8 million for the three fires. The Commission accused SDG&E of obstructing their investigation of the cause of the fires. According to the San Diego Union, in the settlement the company admitted that it didn’t give investigators the information they asked for and nor did it let its workers talk to the investigators, as required by law.

Wildfire briefing, November 15, 2012

Burned firefighter dragged to safety

A 24-hour report about an October 29 incident on the Spur Fire on the Stanislaus National Forest in California is an example of extraordinary work by a couple of firefighters to assist an injured crewmember. Here is the narrative:

A Cal Fire crew was engaged in direct hand line construction during initial attack when a crew member fell and injured his knee. The fire crew captain directed his crew to retreat into the black, and with the help of another firefighter, dragged the injured firefighter through the flame front and into the black. In the process, the captain received a minor first degree radiant heat burn to the left side of his face with no other injury. Both the captain and the firefighter were evaluated at a local hospital and released. No other injuries were sustained by the crew. A Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) team is on scene reviewing this incident.

As a reminder, HERE is a link to the guidelines for burn injuries that should be referred to a burn unit, according to Ameriburn.org.

Dave Thomas receives Safety Award

Dave Thomas receives IAWF Safety Award
Dave Thomas receives IAWF Safety Award. Photo by IAWF.

The International Association of Wildland Fire gave their Wildland Safety Award to Dave Thomas of Ogden, Utah. The IAWF said:

The award was given to Dave in recognition of his on-going study of and instruction on the implications of human behavior to firefighter safety. During a 33 year career with the US Forest Service, Mr. Thomas worked as a firefighter, fire manager, fire behavior analyst, regional fire specialist and review team member.

Currently, he’s working on capturing the “deep smarts” of retired fire management employees with high expertise in the fields of fire behavior, prescribed fire and wildland fire use with Harvard Business School.

Wyoming ran out of suppression funds

The busier than usual 2012 wildfire season has taken its toll on the budgets of federal and state agencies. Approximately 1,300 fires in Wyoming burned about 600,000 acres and consumed all of the money the state had allocated for fire suppression. The state’s share of fighting wildfires this season will total an estimated $42 million after accounting for the portion that will be paid by the federal government.

Senator says we need newer air tankers

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet has issued a press release stating that he is in favor of the modernization of the firefighting air tanker fleet.

More photos of firefighting aircraft on Google Earth

Remember when we told you that Google Earth had photos of aircraft working on fires? It turns out there are even more, this time on the Wallow Fire.


Photos of the Devore Fire in southern California

Devore FireIn addition to the great photo that Rick McClure took of Tanker 41 dropping on the Devore Fire November 5 in Cajon Pass in southern California, we have some additional shots of the fire from John Miller, acting Public Affairs Officer on the San Bernardino National Forest, via Ken. Thanks guys!

The Devore Fire burned 350 acres along Interstate 15 in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Devore Fire

Devore Fire

Devore Fire

Spectacular retardant drop on Devore Fire

BAe-146 dropping Devore Fire, Cajon Pass
Devore Fire, Cajon Pass in southern California, 11-5-2012. Photo by Rick McClure

Rick McClure, a free-lance photographer for the Associated Press and fire publications, got this spectacular photo of Tanker 41, a BAe-146, dropping on the Devore Fire in Cajon Pass in Southern California November 5, 2012. He shot it with a Nikon D5000 at f/6.3, 1/640. And he was not half a mile away using a huge telephoto lens. This was a zoom lens at 150 mm.

Mr. McClure told us “I actually couldn’t run fast enough to get totally out of the drift.” One other photo he got for us is at our new sister site, Fire Aviation.

The Devore Fire burned 350 acres along Interstate 15 in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Wildfire news, November 5, 2012

More than 100,000 lightning strikes in South Australia

Thunderstorms over the last couple of days have blasted South Australia with more than 100,000 lightning strikes. One report says 173,000 strikes left 80,000 residents without electrical power. Firefighters are working on over a dozen fires on the Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula.

Fire jumps Interstate 15 in Cajon Pass

A fire that started near Interstate 15 in Cajon Pass in southern California jumped the interstate and burned 350 acres at the last report. The Devore Fire began at 10:55 a.m. and was 5 percent contained by late afternoon, with full containment expected by 6 p.m. Tuesday. The fire is being fought by 450 personnel and required the evacuation in the Matthew’s Ranch area. More information is available at InciWeb.

Fuel filter being recalled after starting fires

A fuel filter used on diesel engines is being recalled after failures of the unit caused two fires. The California Air Resources Board announced that that the LongMile diesel particulate filter made by Cleaire Advanced Emission Controls is being voluntarily recalled after a second fire attributed to the device. The most recent fire burned three acres on August 4, but in September of 2011 another fire blackened 3,600 acres in Washington and cost $5.2 million to suppress. The initial attack on that fire was made by a group of nuns using buckets of water.

Red Flag Warning for southern California Sunday night and Monday

Red Flag Warnings, 7:38 a.m. PT, November 4, 2012
Red Flag Warnings, for 7 p.m. PT Sunday through 4 p.m. PT Monday

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches for portions of southern California beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday through 4 p.m. Monday. Winds in the mountains will gust at 30 to 40 mph with lesser gusts of 25 to 35 in the inland valleys. Relative humidities will be in the single digits Sunday night through Monday while temperatures on Monday will be in the upper 80s to lower 90s.

The map was current as of 7:38 a.m. PT on Sunday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the dozens of National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.