The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation posted an excellent video of air tanker 914, a DC-10, dropping retardant on the Matt Staff Rd Fire.
DNRC’s County Assist Team has assumed command of the Matt Staff RD fire. Great progress was made thanks to the efforts of firefighters, aircraft, and calmer weather conditions. Here’s a video of an airtanker working with crews to slow fire progress. #mtfire#fireyear2022pic.twitter.com/YpiIrgZQY1
The fire has burned 1,538 acres 13 miles east of Helena, Montana between Canyon Ferry Lake and US Highway 287.
All evacuations on the fire were lifted at 8 p.m. Friday, August 5th. Matt Staff Road is still closed to the public. Montana’s County Assist Team assumed command of the fire at 12 p.m. on August 5th. The cooler temperatures and brief rain Saturday morning were beneficial to firefighting efforts.
The terrain seen in the video is not extreme, but appears to be outside the parameters NASA expected for a very large air tanker such as a DC-10.
Here is an excerpt from the NASA report issued March 2, 2009, titled “USFS Very Large Air Tanker Operational Test and Evaluation.”
The analysis suggests that for level or gently rolling terrain where level to slight descents (< 6-7%) are required, VLAT-class aircraft could probably be employed with few restrictions as long as they remained above 300’ AGL during the delivery.
Check out the video below posted by Kevin Osborne showing a DC-10 making a downhill drop in 2012 on the Goff Fire on the Klamath National Forest in Northern California.
Names of fires
On a related subject, here is my plea for initial attack and dispatcher personnel to keep the names of fires simple. Fires are usually named after a nearby landmark or geographical feature. One word is preferred, but certainly no more than two. Think about how many times the name will have to written, spoken, and typed into forms. Will spelling be easy, or will it be misleading, such as “Camp Fire”, or Road vs Rd?
About this time 10 years ago the Martin Mars, the 747, and two MAFFS air tankers assisted firefighters in Mexico.
One of the DC-10 air tankers, T-912, has started a contract with the state of Coahuila to assist firefighters battling a fire 20 miles southwest of Monterrey in Mexico. Today was its first day of operations but when we spoke to John Gould, President of 10 Tanker at 2:45 p.m. CDT today March 28, the aircraft was on the ground waiting for an improvement in the weather.
They are working and reloading out of the airport in Laredo, Texas about 160 miles northeast of the fire.
The fire they will be dropping retardant on initially is just west of the Coahuila/Nuevo León state line. According to heat detected by satellites it appears to be several thousand acres, while a fire about 4 miles to the east in Nuevo León looks to be more than 22,000 acres. Both fires are near Highway 20.
“Beautiful country there,” Mr. Gould told Fire Aviation. “Very steep and challenging country for fighting fire. The state of Coahuila is providing the aerial supervision aircraft and we have put one of our pilots with lead plane and Air Tactical Group Supervisor experience in the right seat.”
More air tankers from North America will be be sent to Australia
Two people were found dead on Kangaroo Island south of Adelaide, South Australia.
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
An experienced pilot and his son have been killed in catastrophic bushfires that have ravaged more than a third of Kangaroo Island and destroyed homes and businesses. The family of tour operator and aviator Dick Lang has confirmed he perished in the blaze, along with his youngest son Clayton — a leading plastic surgeon who specialised in hand surgery. Dick Lang, 78, ran his own flight adventure business out of Adelaide Airport and was described as one of the nation’s “best bush pilots”.
Dick Lang lived and worked in the outback for most of his life, securing him the nickname ‘Desert’. His 43-year-old son was supervisor of surgical training at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, his family said. Dick Lang had flown rescue operations in desert regions and over Papua New Guinea.
“He loved the bush, he loved adventure and he loved Kangaroo Island,” his family said.
“Dick and Clayton were prominent members of the South Australian community who rose to the top in their chosen professions.”
Police said the men died on the Playford Highway in the centre of the island, and that one of the victims was found inside a car.
In a statement, the Lang family said the men were returning to the family property on Kangaroo Island January 4 after fighting a nearby fire for two days.
This brings the death toll in the Australian fires up to 23 people, which includes three firefighters.
High humidities and a 2.5mm of rain Saturday morning slowed the spread of the Ravine Fire on Kangaroo Island. South Australia’s Country Fire Service said the two major fires on the island have burned more than 170,000 hectares (420,000 acres) which is 39 percent of the 88-mile long island. Many structures have burned or been damaged, including Kangaroo Island’s Visitor and Information Center, the KI Wilderness Retreat, and Hanson Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. The Premier, Steven Marshall, said all buildings in the island’s Flinders Chase National Park had been “very extensively” damaged. It has been confirmed that the Southern Ocean Lodge, the high-end resort on the southwest coast that charges over $1,000 a night, suffered severe damage.
The bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales continue to spread and force residents and vacationers from homes and resorts.
Naval vessels are being used to rescue those who were forced to flee to the coastal beaches. Small boats are ferrying them out to a ship in deeper water where those who are willing and able have to climb a ladder up to the much larger vessel built to carry 300 soldiers and 23 tanks. It is expected the ship will transport about 800 evacuees. Those who can’t board the ship and still want to leave, may be removed from the burnt-over area by helicopters, but visibility degraded by smoke could make flying difficult.
In addition to the ships and helicopters being used for evacuation the New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons was blindsided upon finding out from the media that Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday afternoon that 3,000 ADF reservists would be brought in to help with bushfire recovery efforts and $20 million would be provided for leasing four additional firefighting aircraft. Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said it was the first time that reservists had been called up “in this way in living memory and, in fact, I believe for the first time in our nation’s history.”
John Gould, President of 10 Tanker, said their company will be sending two more DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers to Australia as soon as the heavy maintenance presently underway is complete. He expects Tanker 912 to arrive in Australia on January 15 to be followed 10 days later by Tanker 914. They will join Tanker 911 that arrived in November. The DC-10 can carry up to 9,400 gallons of water or retardant.
Mr Fitzsimons said while he was thankful for the support, logistics would be complicated.
“I was disappointed and frustrated in the middle of one of our worst days with massive dislocation and movement of people,” he said. “I had my conversations with the Prime Minister’s office.”
As predicted, the weather Saturday in southeast Australia was hot, dry, and windy, setting temperature records in several locations — 120F degrees in Penrith and 111F in Canberra..
One of 10 Tanker Air Carrier’s DC-10 very large air tankers is en route to Chile. Tanker 910, N612AX, departed from San Bernardino, California Wednesday. It made a stop at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala later in the day, and information on Flight Aware appears to indicate that it will also stop at Pisco, Peru.
John Gould, President of 10 Tanker said the aircraft is expected to arrive at Santiago, Chile early Thursday morning. He said it will be working for the National Forest Corporation, or CONAF (Corporación Nacional Forestal), which is a Chilean private, non-profit organization, through which the Chilean state contributes to the development and sustainable management of the country’s forest resources. CONAF is overseen and funded by Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture. There is no one governmental agency that has the authority, responsibility, and resources to manage wildfires in the Country.
On Tuesday Chilean President Sebastián Piñera declared a state of catastrophe in some regions of the country due to unusually hot weather and numerous wildfires. Below is an excerpt from Prensa Latina:
[Undersecretary of the Interior, Rodrigo] Ubilla said that this extreme measure seeks to strengthen the network of logistical support to deal with these disasters, and that these commanders will be responsible for ‘controlling public order, operationally support the tasks of prevention, fire fighting and adopt all necessary measures to avoid risks to the population.
More than 8,000 hectares [19,000 acres] of forests and pastures have already been burned by flames, dozens of homes have been destroyed and hundreds of people evacuated, according to reports from the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) and the National Emergency Office of the Ministry of the Interior (ONEMI).
Two years ago Global Supertanker’s 747 very large air tanker spent a month or so fighting fires in Chile working out of Santiago. Andrea Avolio, a vice president of the company, said their aircraft is presently down for several weeks undergoing heavy maintenance. She said the company has not received any inquiries from officials in Chile about it being deployed.
Dan Snyder, CEO and President of Neptune, said he has recently had some informal discussions with folks in Chile but no orders have been placed. Neptune sent one of their BAe-146s, Tanker 03, to Concepción, Chile two years ago at the same time the 747 was farther north in Santiago.
A spokesperson for Aero-Flite said as far as she knew the company has no plans to send one of their RJ85 large air tankers to South America. Currently three of them are working in Australia.
Above: The north side of the Indian Canyon Fire along the Cheyenne River late in the evening of July 17.
(UPDATED at 7 p.m. MDT July 18, 2016)
Around noon on Monday we visited the west side of the Indian Canyon Fire south of Edgemont, South Dakota. It was very quiet. Not much was going on at the airport, the incident command post, or along Highway 471. We only saw one location that was putting up much smoke and it was on the north side in some cottonwood trees near the Cheyenne River. That area probably has logs and dead trees that could smoulder for days.
The order for the Type 1 Incident Management Team was cancelled. The latest size estimate for the fire is 13,500 acres. At 9 a.m. today the incident management team reported there was zero containment on the fire. Then at 4:06 p.m. that increased to 60 percent. This just illustrates that containment numbers are meaningless most of the time and is the reason why we rarely regurgitate that statistic.
The six photos in the next gallery were taken around noon on Monday. Scroll down to see two other galleries. Click on a photo to see a larger version, then click on the arrows to view more.
(UPDATED at 10:28 a.m. MDT July 18, 2016)
Monday morning the Great Plains Fire Information office reported there had been “heavy rain” on the Indian Canyon Fire in South Dakota. When I left the Edgemont area at 7:30 Sunday night a thunderstorm was moving in and light rain was falling. Two rain gauges that are near the fire but not within the perimeter recorded 0.03″ and 0.07″ overnight.
The heat-sensing satellite did not detect any large heat sources Sunday night on the fire. That does not mean it is out. The sensors, about 200 miles overhead, can only “see” large concentrations of heat. And the grass, which comprises most of the vegetation in the fire area, can burn and then cool before the next satellite overpass.
The behavior of the fire on Sunday was affected by the moderate weather conditions — temperature around 80, relative humidity in the 30’s, and an 8 mph east wind. The forecast for the fire area on Monday predicts 96 degrees, southwest winds of 14 to 18 gusting in the mid-20’s, and 30 percent relative humidity. These conditions could dry much of the Sunday night rainfall.
Another factor slowing the fire was the use of air tankers, helping to keep the fire out of Edgemont. In addition to a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker, seven other air tankers were used on the fire Sunday — four Single Engine Air Tankers and three large air tankers, T-02 and T41 (both BAe-146’s), and T-45 (a P2V). In addition, two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters worked on the fire Sunday.
The photos in the gallery below were shot around 7 p.m. MDT Sunday night. To see larger versions, click on one, then click the arrows to see more.
This was the first time that a Very Large Air Tanker has dropped retardant in the state of South Dakota. It carries 11,600 gallons, far more than any other air tanker currently certified in North America. The other Large Air Tankers hold between 2,000 and 4,500 gallons. Global Supertanker has a 747 Very Large Air Tanker with a 19,600-gallon capacity working its way through the FAA and Interagency AirTanker Board approval process.
The Happy Camp Complex of fires in a remote area of northwestern California continued to chew up additional acres on Saturday, though at a somewhat slower rate than the previous two days. Now mapped at 62,626 acres, a 24-hour increase of 4,904 acres, it has reached Highway 96 near the small community of Seiad Valley. Several areas are under a mandatory evacuation order affecting 250 homes, and approximately 695 homes are threatened. The fire is being fought by 2,116 personnel, 52 crews, 137 engines, 19 helicopters and 18 dozers. The incident management team is calling it 15 percent contained.
The fire is burning in an area infamous for inversions that trap wildfire smoke, at times making it difficult for firefighting aircraft to fly, and firefighters and residents to breathe.
It is unfortunate that we don’t know who took the excellent photo posted above. Public Information personnel posting photos on InciWeb REALLY need to provide at least four pieces of information about each photo: 1) photographer’s name, 2) date taken, 3) location, and 4) a description.
Dust from wildfire causes traffic problems
Dust being blown off a recent wildfire close to Interstate 90 near Vantage, Washington resulted in a 20-mile stretch of the highway being closed on Thursday and Friday.
Fifteen cars and nine tractor-trailers collided in the area on Thursday, leaving nearly a dozen people injured and causing a pileup that snarled traffic on the main route across Washington state, authorities said. According to Trooper Darren Wright, it’s not yet known how the pileup started.
A third DC-10 joins the fleet
A third DC-10 jumbo jet has been converted into an air tanker. 10 Tanker Air Carrier announced Saturday that Tanker 912 has been fully certified and has joined the other two DC-10s temporarily based at Castle Airport near Merced, California.
Report released on CL-415 accident
A report has been released on the CL-415 air tanker accident that occurred on Moosehead Lake in Newfoundland and Labrador July 3, 2013. Details are at Fire Aviation.