Smoke in the Southwest and Canada

Smoke from Oak, Diego, and San Juan Fires, 6-30-2014
Smoke from Oak, Diego, and San Juan Fires, 6-30-2014. Wildfire Today and WeatherUnderground

Smoke from three fires in southwest Arizona and northern New Mexico is having a significant impact in those states as well as in parts of Texas Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas.

But that smoke is small potatoes compared to what is going on in northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and off the coast of New Brunswick. The smoke that is now over the Atlantic probably drifted across much of Canada and parts of New England.

Smoke in Canada and US

There is not much current information available about the Diego Fire on the Santa Fe National Forests in New Mexico, but we determined that it is 25 miles northwest of Los Alamos, 7 miles southwest of Coyote, and 67 miles north of Albuquerque. It is listed at 1,000 acres at Inciweb, but it appears to be much larger than that in the satellite imagery we have seen.

The Oak and San Juan Fires in southwest Arizona are listed at 11,000 and 5,700 acres, respectively.

To see the most current smoke reports on Wildfire Today, visit the articles tagged “smoke” at

One-liners, June 18, 2014

Assayii Fire June 15
Assayii Fire June 15, 2014. InciWeb photo.

*The Assayii Fire in northwest New Mexico, reported on Friday the 13th, has burned 12,107 acres on the Navajo Nation in the Bowl Canyon area.

*Missoula smokejumpers got checked out on a new Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) EC135 helicopter on Tuesday.

*On Tuesday five fires were intentionally set in vegetation in Oakland, California about two miles from where the Tunnel Fire began, which in 1991 killed 25 people (23 civilians, 1 police officer, and 1 firefighter), injured 150, and destroyed 2,449 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units.

*An off duty firefighter employed by the city of Arcadia, California is missing in the Los Padres National Forest in southern California.

*California will give $10 million of the $48 million of the “fire fees” they have collected to counties and organizations who intend to use the funds for fire prevention and mitigation projects.

*Evaluations of how agencies in San Diego County handled the rash of wildfires in mid-May determined that communications was major issue; that and the need for a third helicopter, but the $5 million request for the helicopter was not approved.

*Three cities in the Austin, Texas area plan to install a network of wildfire detection cameras to add to the one purchased last year by West Lake Hills.

*Squirrels may be to blame for some patchy reproduction of lodgepole pines following the 1988 wildfires in Yellowstone National Park.

*An unfortunate raven started a wildfire 25 kilometers northeast of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada when it contacted electrical wires; we will add this to our Animal Arson series, although it may have been a case of suicide arson.

*Dan Glickman and Harris Sherman, two former very high-ranking appointees in the Department of Agriculture, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times supporting the bill that would allow the Forest Service to draw money from federal disaster funds when firefighting costs reach 70 percent of the 10-year average.
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Doug

Affecting the spread of a fire by lighting more fire

This video showcases how firefighters in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia helped to prevent a fire from crossing a natural barrier by lighting more fire. The additional heat created convection and indrafts that allowed firefighters to affect the spread of the fire, resulting in them being able to protect structures and a highway. 

The video was created by Fire Information personnel working for Parks Canada, using a series of still images shot by Jon Large, who told us he “had a great viewpoint on the adjacent mountain!”

Thanks Jon, and Parks Canada.

Below is a description of the video from YouTube.

Using fire to fight fire may seem counter-intuitive, but a deliberately lit fire can be a very important tool in a firefighter’s toolkit. During the Numa Creek Wildfire in 2013, specialists burned away fuel in the wildfire’s path to slow its progress. They used a natural fire break and convective air currents to control the deliberately set fire and protect both the highway and structures below. Fire specialists rely on a thorough understanding of fire behaviour to successfully manage fires of all kinds. Where we see flames and smoke, fire specialists see prevailing winds, convective heat, in-drafts and more. This is what fire specialists saw during one operation on the Numa Creek Wildfire of 2013.

Wildfire briefing, April 16, 2014

Idaho sues over Steep Corner Fire

The state of Idaho has filed a lawsuit to recover the costs they incurred while suppressing the 2012 Steep Corner Fire near Orofino, Idaho. The suit claims that a timber company and its contractor did not meet U.S. Forest Service standards. It names Potlatch Land and Lumber, Potlatch Forest Holdings, Clearwater Paper Corp., Potlatch Corp., and DABCO Inc., a Kamiah-based logging contractor.

A firefighter, Ann Veseth, in her second season working as a firefighter for the USFS, was killed when she was struck by a falling 150-foot tall fire-weakened green cedar tree. The tree fell on its own and was 13 inches in diameter where it struck her.

Nebraska to join a fire compact

If the governor of Nebraska signs a bill approved by the legislature, the state will become a member of the Great Plains Interstate Compact, making it easier to share firefighting resources with Colorado, Wyoming and the Dakotas.

UPDATE, April 18, 2014Gov. Dave Heineman announced that he signed the bill.

Next-generation 911

The next generation of 911 could include live video and photographs which could be sent to first responders.


On May 1, 2010, a terrorist attack in New York City’s Times Square was thwarted when street vendors noticed smoke coming from a vehicle in which a homemade bomb had failed to explode. Imagine if those street vendors could have used their cellphones to send pictures or video of the vehicle and its license plate to a 911 call center. What if the 911 center could then push that data to first responders and police to get the location from GIS and buildings visual in the photos?

“They could really capture the dynamics of the event,” said Brian Fontes, executive director of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). “That is what I call an information-rich 911 call, which will be supported in a next-generation 911 system…

Wildfire activity in British Columbia


Fire officials are keeping a close eye on wildfires in the interior. There have been twice the average number of fires so far this year in the Kamloops Fire centre. Monday, five homes were put on evacuation alert in Bridge River near Lillooet. Nearly two dozen firefighters were sent to the area. Two fires are also being fought in the Okanagan. Kayla Pepper is an information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre. She says it is dry and there has been a fair amount of wind throughout the Interior and Okanagan. She says there have already been 34 wildfires in the region. Pepper says so far, it’s too early to predict how active wildfires will be this year.

National Parks with web pages devoted to wildland fire

The National Park Service has a web page that lists dozens of Parks that have web pages devoted to their unique wildland fire programs. Below is a screen shot of a portion of the page.

NPS park fire programs

More Wildfire sports teams

Wildfire team

In August we wrote about three football teams named “Wildfire”. Today we ran across someone talking about wildfire on Twitter and it turned out to be referring to what appears to be a girls’ hockey team in Canada (see the photo above).

Then we found another women’s hockey team in Wenatchee, Washington:

Wenatchee Wildfire

And still another one, Holy Family/Waconia in Minnesota:

Holy Family/Waconia Wildfire


A look inside a forest fire

This video from National Geographic’s site shows the interior of a forest fire that was shot in Canada’s Northwest Territory during the International Crown Fire Modelling Experiment. I would not want to depend on a fire shelter to protect me during conditions like this.

On the National Geographic site, one of the comments asked, “Can someone tell why the heck they are burning this forest in the first place?”

Franco Nogarin replied: “We burn this forest so that we can know exactly how fire behaves under certain conditions. Nature burned the forest regularly as a natural occurrence before we (humans) settled everywhere, So its not hurting anything to burn these sections of forest in the name of Science. The benefits are that we we have very precise information about how wildfire works, We know what prevention measures work and which dont under specific conditions. These are not things we want to learn by trial and error in out of control wildfires 😉 ”

In addition to fire behavior experiments, quite a bit of other research is conducted during these fires, including measuring the effects on personal protective equipment, fire shelters, and various types of building materials.

Below is a still photo from the experiment.

Northwest Crown Fire Experiment
Northwest Crown Fire Modelling Experiment. USFS photo.