At least 50 people killed in wildfires near Athens, Greece

This is the deadliest fire season in Greece since 2007

Above: The red dots on the map represent fires in Greece detected by a satellite July 23, 2018.

(Originally published at 8:25 a.m. MDT July 24, 2018)

Authorities in Greece are saying that at least 50 people have been killed in two large wildfires near Athens. As 50 mph winds pushed the fires, residents and tourists took refuge on ocean beaches. Boats plucked some out of the water while others were picked up on the shore and taken to safety. The Greek Coast Guard and other vessels picked up more than 700 who were fleeing from the fire.

Rescuers reported finding the bodies of more than 20 people huddled together near a beach. Other were found in or near groups of vehicles that became trapped, much like the situation in Portugal last year when 62 people died.

There are at least two large fires in Greece. One is about 10 miles northeast of Athens near the coastal city of Nea Makri and the other is about 25 miles west of Athens at another city on the coast, Kineta. Both fires spread toward the ocean, generally west to east.

The Associated Press reported that 10 people were killed when a boat capsized while it was evacuating vacationers from a hotel in Mati, east of Athens.

This is the deadliest fire season in Greece since 2007 when more than 60 people were killed in the Peloponnese region.

Showers near Athens Monday missed both fires, but heavy rain is in the forecast for Wednesday.

Several European countries have offered to send water-scooping air tankers to assist firefighters, including Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Croatia. Greece also has their own fleet of scoopers.

One dead, 50,000 acres burn in Substation Fire

Northern Oregon southeast of The Dalles

Above: Substation Fire. Incident Management Team photo, July 18, 2018.

(Originally published at 6:33 a.m. PDT July 19, 2018)

Since the Substation Fire started July 17 southeast of The Dalles, Oregon it has claimed the life of one person and burned over 50,000 acres. The fire has blackened an area approximately 18 miles long by 8 miles wide, and has jumped the Lower Deschutes River in at least two places.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office reported that at 1:30 p.m. on July 18 deputies answered a call about a burnt tractor. They found the operator a short distance away, deceased, apparently killed by exposure to the fire. The operator may have been attempting to suppress the fire by using the tractor and disk to construct a fireline. The release of the person’s name is pending notification of next of kin.

The Sheriff’s Office has the most current information about the areas under evacuation orders. They have boats patrolling the river to notify hikers and boaters.

Officials have closed Highway 97 from Biggs Junction to Highway 197.

The Governor declared the fire a conflagration Wednesday, which allows the state fire marshal to mobilize firefighting resources.

map substation fire
Map showing heat on the Substation Fire detected by satellites as late as 2:59 a.m. PDT July 19, 2018. The red icons are the most current. It is likely that in some areas light fuels such as wheat and grass burned and cooled in between satellite overflights, therefore was not detected by the sensors. Click to enlarge.

The area is under a Red Flag Warning on Thursday. The forecast for the fire area calls for 78 degrees, 25 percent relative humidity, and afternoon winds out of the northwest of 19 gusting to 27 — not good news for firefighters.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team (Schulte) has been assigned to the fire.

One structure has been destroyed, an often photographed historic home.

Substation Fire
Substation Fire. Incident Management Team photo, July 18, 2018.
Substation Fire
Substation Fire. Incident Management Team photo, July 18, 2018.

The video below was uploaded by the Incident Management Team to Facebook on July 18, 2018.

86-year old firefighter killed in water tender rollover

The accident occurred near Overton, Texas.

A firefighter with the New London Fire Department in Texas died after the water tender they were using to respond to a vegetation fire rolled over near Overton, Texas. The U. S. Fire Administration released the following information:

Firefighter M.V. Hudson was injured in a fire tender (tanker) crash on the evening of February 28th. Hudson and two other firefighters were responding to a grass fire when the apparatus left the right side of the roadway and rolled over, badly damaging the cab and injuring all three occupants. The three firefighters had to be extracted from the vehicle and were rushed to the hospital. Two firefighters were subsequently released, but Firefighter Hudson died while in the hospital on March 10, 2018.

Mr. Hudson had 45 years of firefighting service and was 86 years old.

Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends, and co-workers.

Death toll rises to 62 in Portugal wildfire

Above: Photo by Euronews.

(Updated at (9:55 a.m. MDT June 18, 2017)

The number of people killed in the wildfire southeast of Coimbra, Portugal has risen to at least 62, according to the BBC. That number will probably increase as many remain missing and not all affected areas have been reached by authorities. Six firefighters have been seriously injured and two that were reported missing have been found with injuries.

Hundreds of firefighters and 300 pieces of fire apparatus are battling the fire southeast of Coimbra, one of 60 that broke out Saturday. Approximately 1,700 firefighters have been mobilized across Portugal during the recent extremely hot weather which brought temperatures over 100F. Dry thunderstorms are one of the possible causes of the fires. The government reports that 360 soldiers are assisting firefighters.

wildfires southeast of Coimbra, Portugal
Map showing the location of the wildfires southeast of Coimbra, Portugal.

Most of the fatalities occurred while residents were attempting to flee in their cars from the Pedrógão Grande area about 30 miles southeast of Coimbra.

Wildfires southeast of Coimbra, Portugal
Wildfires southeast of Coimbra, Portugal.

The European Commission says it is working with EU member states to respond to the call for assistance issued overnight by Portuguese authorities. The Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, said “Greece will offer any help necessary to fight the fires.” Spain and France are both sending several firefighting aircraft.

Wildfires kill 25 in Portugal

(12:42 a.m. MDT June 18, 2017)

The BBC is reporting that 25 people have been killed in wildfires in central Portugal. Several firefighters are reported to be among about 20 people injured.

Most of the fatalities occurred while attempting to flee in their cars from the Pedrógão Grande area about 30 miles southeast of Coimbra.

From the BBC:

Secretary of State for the Interior Jorge Gomes earlier said that three people died from smoke inhalation and 16 died in their cars on the road linking Figueiró dos Vinhos to Castanheira de Pera.

About 60 forest fires broke out across the country overnight, with 1,700 firefighters working to put them out. The flames spread “with great violence” on four fronts, Mr Gomes said.

Spain has sent two water-bombing planes to help tackle the fires.

Portugal has been experiencing dry thunderstorms and temperatures well above 100F in recent days.

wildfires west of Pedrógão Grande in Portugal
Map showing the location of wildfires west of Pedrógão Grande in Portugal. Click to enlarge.

CAL FIRE and contractor cited by OSHA after 2016 dozer rollover fatality

dozer rollover fatality
The dozer that rolled over on the Soberanes Fire in 2016, killing Robert Reagan. CAL FIRE photo.

Both a private contractor and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) were issued citations by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) related to a fatality when a dozer rolled over. Robert Reagan, 35, of Friant, California, was killed while fighting the Soberanes Fire south of Monterey, California July 26, 2016.

Minutes after Mr. Reagan began operating the piece of equipment for Czirban Concrete Construction on contract to CAL FIRE, it rolled over. Not wearing a seat belt, he was thrown from the cab and was killed when the dozer rolled onto him.

According to KQED news, Cal/OSHA issued five citations to Czirban totaling $20,000. The largest was $13,500 for not wearing a seat belt.

Czirban had not secured workers’ compensation insurance for Mr. Reagan as required, and had been cited eight times in four years by the Contractors State License Board, several times because of worker’s compensation issues.

Below is an excerpt from an article at KQED in which they point out a number of problems related to contractors working on wildfires:

Cal/OSHA also issued two citations to Cal Fire, one for failing to report a serious injury within eight hours and another for failing to maintain an effective injury and illness prevention program.

“The employer failed to ensure a supervisor was in the immediate area during all bulldozer activities,” Cal/OSHA compliance officer Kelly Tatum wrote in the agency’s citation.

Cal Fire, which also faces a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Reagan’s wife and two young daughters, has appealed the findings.

wildfire dozer
File photo of a dozer in South Dakota.