Two found dead in Kangaroo Island Fire in South Australia

More air tankers from North America will be be sent to Australia

Satellite photo smoke Australia fires
Satellite photo of smoke from fires in New South Wales and Victoria December 3, 2020. The red areas represent heat.

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.

Evacuees being ferried HMAS Choules
Evacuees being ferried to the HMAS Choules Australia DoD photo.

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.

Department of Defence Australia helicopter rescue
Helicopters from Australia’s Department of Defence has been transporting fire refugees to safer ground. DOD photo.

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.

From ABC:

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..

National Park Service Regional Aviation Manager and Safety Manager killed in Alaska plane crash

The two men died May 27 in the accident near Whitehorse International Airport

(From the National Park Service, May 29, 2019)

The National Park Service (NPS) is mourning the loss of two of its Alaska-based employees following an airplane crash in Whitehorse, Canada on Monday evening.

The two men, Jeff Babcock and Charles Eric Benson, were on a personal trip to ferry a privately-owned airplane from the Lower 48 to Anchorage, Alaska, when the plane went down shortly after take-off from Whitehorse International Airport.

According to Canadian officials and witnesses the airplane crashed at about 5:30 p.m. Monday shortly after takeoff into a forested area south of the airport. A column of smoke was seen rising from the area and emergency personnel from Whitehorse Fire Department, the Whitehorse RCMP and airport firefighters responded immediately to the scene.

Jeff Babcock served as the NPS Alaska Region Aviation Manager and Charles Eric Benson was the NPS Alaska Region Safety Manager. “Jeff and Eric were two of our very best and the National Park Service and Alaska Region have suffered a terrible loss,” said Bert Frost, NPS Alaska Regional Director. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Jeff and Eric and we are heartbroken,” said Frost.

Both men were accomplished professionals, as well as skilled airmen. Prior to working for the National Park Service:

Jeff Babcock had a distinguished 23-year career as a Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain in the Alaska State Troopers where he served as a Commercial Pilot, Aircraft and Vessel Section Supervisor, Use of Force Instructor, Accident Reconstructionist, Undercover Investigator, Internal Investigator, Tactical Dive Master, Firearms Instructor, and Certified Flight Instructor. After retiring from the Alaska State Troopers, and before coming to work with the National Park Service, Jeff flew for 7 years as a pilot for K-2 Aviation. He enjoyed flying guests around Mt. Denali and sharing with them his favorite parts of Alaska.

Eric Benson served for 25 years in both the U.S. Air Force and in the U.S. Army in a variety of assignments. From 1993-1994 he attended and graduated from the Initial Entry Rotary Wing Qualification and the Aviation Officer Basic Courses at Fort Rucker Alabama. He then served as a UH-60 Army Aviator, Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Brigade Aviation Element, and an Aviation Maintenance Company Commander. Eric’s active duty career culminated in December of 2007, with the 10th Mountain Division while serving as a Battalion Executive Officer for the General Support Aviation Battalion at Fort Drum, New York. He joined the National Park Service after retiring from the U.S. Army.

Jeff Babcock and Eric Benson were long-time residents of Alaska and are well-known throughout the state. Services for Jeff Babcock will be held on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Colony Chapel, 9475 East Silver Springs Circle, Palmer, Alaska at 11:00 a.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. Private services are pending for Eric Benson.

Jeff Babcock killed plane crash Alaska
Jeff Babcock. NPS photo.
Eric Benson killed plane crash Alaska
Eric Benson. Photo courtesy of the Benson family.

Analysis of 865 fatalities on wildfires in Southern Europe

fatalities wildfires southern Europe

A paper published in January describes an analysis of 865  civilian and firefighter fatalities in Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Sardinia (Italy) from 1945 through 2016. They found that 77 percent of the fatalities occurred in the months of July, August, and September, and that Sardinia (a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea) had the highest rate of fatalities based on their population, 10.01 per million inhabitants.

The leading cause of death was burns and suffocation, followed by health problems including heart attacks, physical trauma, respiratory problems, and exhaustion. Next was aviation accidents and then terrestrial accidents.

All of the images shown here are from the research paper.

fatalities wildfires southern Europe

 


fatalities wildfires southern Europe


A surprisingly high number of fatalities were the result of aviation accidents. Here is an excerpt from the document:

Aircraft-crew fatalities are not negligible, particularly in Spain, where 72 out of the total 96 fatalities reported occurred. This is alarming, although it can be explained to some extent by the heavy use of aerial-firefighting resources in Spain when compared, for example, to Portugal. Aerial firefighting is also heavily applied in Greece, although fatalities in this country are not just the result of the number of flying hours, but also of a host of other parameters still to be investigated and described by specialists. Indeed, an evaluation and a comparison between countries of these other parameters and operational protocols are needed.

 


fatalities wildfires southern Europe

 


fatalities wildfires southern Europe

Authors of the paper: Domingo M. Molina-Terre´n, Gavriil Xanthopoulos, Michalis Diakakis, Luis Ribeiro, David Caballero, Giuseppe M. Delogu, Domingos X. Viegas, Carlos A. Silva, and Adria´n Cardil.

President suggests California politicians complain too much about wildfires

Last year 104 people, including 6 firefighters, were killed on wildfires in California.

Fire tornado Carr Fire
Fire tornado filmed by the Helicopter Coordinator on the Carr Fire July 26, 2018 near Redding, California.

During a visit to the US/Mexico border in California on Friday President Trump was asked if he had a comment about recent lawsuits filed by California about his proposed declaration of a national emergency at the border. According to a report from CNN he replied:

California’s always the first one to complain. And I don’t mean the people of California. They’re fantastic. I’m talking about the politicians in California. They complain.

When their forests go up, they complain. They gotta take care of their forests a lot better. But when the wall – they want the wall in San Diego and they’re always the first one. They were the first one to pull the National Guard. And they need the National Guard.

Wildfires in California in 2018 killed 104 people. Six of those were firefighters.

May they all rest in peace.

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

Dozer operator killed on prescribed fire in northwest Florida

The operator was working for a prescribed fire contractor

Gonzalez, Florida prescribed fire Map showing the area around Gonzalez, Florida. The red and yellow dots represent heat detected by a satellite on March 21 and 22, 2019.

A man operating a dozer was killed October 9 while working on a prescribed fire in northwest Florida.

Daryl Bradley Holland, 38, was pronounced dead at the scene of the project that was being conducted east of Gonzalez, Florida about 25 air miles northwest of Eglin Air Force Base, and 12 miles north of Pensacola.

Below is an excerpt from an article at NorthEscambia.com:

“He got off in an attempt to remove a tree or large limb lodged in the tracks,” Maj. Andrew Hobbs said Monday afternoon. “The bulldozer wasn’t all the way out of gear. When it was un-jammed, the bulldozer lurched forward.”

Holland was working for HHH Construction of NWF, which was a subcontractor of Munroe Forest & Wildlife Management on the burn, according to Nathalie Bowers, public information officer for the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority.

The prescribed fire occurred on land administered by the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), a government organization. Their plan, in a March 6 press release, was to conduct the 940-acre burn in the vicinity of the Central Water Reclamation Facility March 7 through March 9.  A “burn-certified contractor” was scheduled to conduct the burn operations as part of ECUA’s management plan for the ecological restoration of forest lands at the site. The property is in the Gonzalez community mostly south of Becks Lake Road, west of the Escambia River.

The map at the top of this article shows heat detected by a satellite in the area described on March 21 and 22.  Heat from the burn operation March 7 through 9 would not show up on the map.

Below is an announcement about the project the ECUA posted on Facebook on March 6.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers of Mr. Holland.

ECUA prescribed fire announcement

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

Worker clearing road in Butte Fire scar killed by rolling log

Butte Fire
The Butte Fire at 6:09 p.m. on September 10, as seen from above Jackson, CA, looking southeast. Photo by Matthew Rhodes.

A Calaveras County employee working on a brush clearing project along a road in the scar from the Butte Fire was killed Monday March 18 by a rolling tree or log. County Public Works personnel were working with a CAL FIRE Conservation Camp crew inside the perimeter of the fire that burned 71,000 acres south of Jackson, California in September, 2015.

Kevin Raggio, Calaveras County Coroner, identified the man as 57-year-old Ansel John Bowman.

A very brief “Blue Sheet”preliminary report released by CAL FIRE said the county employee “was hit by a previously downed tree and suffered fatal injuries”. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Butte Fire destroyed 233 residences and 175 outbuildings, and may have caused the deaths of two civilians.