Helicopter pilot killed in Kansas crash

We just received this message from Nate, one of our readers:

Great site, its my source for breaking news every morning.

I wanted to report to you that Roger Hershner, a long-time fire helicopter pilot was killed in Kansas yesterday, March 8. He was ferrying a helicopter from Hillcrest Aircraft Co. in Lewiston, ID to Virginia to start a USFS contract in Virginia. Not much info as to cause is available yet.  He refueled in Ogalala, Nebraska and was enroute to Topeka, Kansas when he crashed.

Roger most recently has flown the joint Santa Fe/Musselshell Exclusive use contract in R3/R1. He also flew the Grangeville Exclusive use contract, and several other contracts in the southern region. He was employed by Hillcrest for about 5 years. He has been flying contract helicopters for the USFS for about 30 years, maybe more.

KSALLink.com and the AP have stories.

Our condolences to Mr. Hershner’s family and co-workers.

Wildfire news, February 20, 2009

A real prepare, stay, and defend story

Len Renouf lives on a farm 30 miles east of Melbourne, Australia. Having been a volunteer firefighter, he thought he knew what to expect when one of the large fires approached his place recently, but it was much worse than he thought. His preparations and quick thinking may have saved his life and those of three of his neighbors.

The Daily Mail has the story.

USFS to send ICS trainers to Lebanon

The U.S. Forest Service has received funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide Lebanon with training on the Incident Command System.

Service for Chad Suppa scheduled

A memorial service for Chad Suppa, who passed away on February 15 in a parachuting accident, will be held on March 6 in Grand Junction, Colorado. When we receive more information about the exact time and place, we will post it here.

Carson Helicopters to send S-61’s to Afghanistan

Carson helicopters

The company that owned the helicopter that crashed last year killing nine on a fire in northern California will be sending seven of their Sikorsky S-61 ships to Afghanistan.

The Mail Tribune in Medford, Oregon reports that Carson Helicopters has signed a contract with a subsidiary of Blackwater Worldwide, which recently changed their name to “Xe”. The contract, worth $605 million through 2013, is for the helicopters to transport supplies; they will not be involved in combat. Carson has already starting painting the helicopters and installing radios.

This is a very interesting development. There is speculation that the deal is related to the liability claims resulting from the crash, and it involves a “fraudulent transfer of assets to block creditors and plaintiffs”.

The Mail Tribune has more details.

Photo: Carson Helicopters

Man sentenced to probation for starting Corral Canyon fire

Brian David Franks, 28, will be on probation and will have to perform 300 hours of community service for starting the 2007 Corral Canyon fire that destroyed 53 homes and injured 6 firefighters near Malibu, California. He pleaded no contest to a felony charge of recklessly causing a fire.

Franks’ hand was also slapped by the judge, stunning Franks’ attorney, who jumped up and objected, waving his arms and shouting. (not really)

As part of his plea deal, Franks agreed to provide testimony against four others that have been charged, some of them for recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury and recklessly causing a fire to an inhabited structure.

More information is HERE.

Oyler’s sister testifies in Esperanza fire trial

The sister of Raymond Lee Oyler testified in court on Wednesday that he was talking to her on the phone at his house when the Esperanza fire started.

Oyler is charged with five counts of murder for starting the 2006 fire in which five U.S. Forest Service firefighters died. He is also charged with setting 22 other fires in the area in 2006, many of them with a device consisting of a cigarette and matches.

The trial could go to the jury late next week.

Wildfire news, September 1, 2008

South Africa: 20 killed in brush fires

(from AHN)

Cape Town, South Africa (AHN) – At least 20 people died in runaway brush fires fueled by strong winds in South Africa over the weekend.

More than 100 fires across the country burned 125,000 acres of land.

In KwaZulu-Natal province 13 people were killed and 25 others after being burned in fires that roared through the area. Elsewhere in the province, another three people were burned to death and five others hospitalized for burns after their shack caught fire in Eastern Cape.

In Mpumalanga province three people were killed by fires.

“This is almost typical weather for August-September with late winds and early spring. There are hot conditions but you still get cold fronts hitting the Cape,” South Africa Weather Service forecaster Evert Scholtz told Afrol News.

But although the windy conditions are common for this time of year, the large number of deadly fires in different parts of the country are not, says Percy Morokane from Johannesburg’s Emergency Services.

“This particular situation has never been experienced before. Reports are coming in from all over the country,” Morokane told BBC news.

Montana: Dunn Mountain fire: contained at 102,383 acres

This huge fire 30 miles northeast of Billings received some rain late on Sunday. The precipitation and cooler temperatures enabled firefighters to make good progress Sunday and Monday, resulting in the fire being 100% contained today. Here is a photo from a couple of days ago:


Wyoming: Gunbarrel fire update

The fire received from a quarter to over a half an inch of rain on Sunday. Paul Broyles’ Type 1 Incident Management Team will transition to a smaller Type 3 Team on Wednesday and the Incident Command Post will move back to Wapiti Ranger Station when that occurs.

Some numbers:

61,923 acres
70% contained
338 personnel assigned
$10,300,000 spent
5 helicopters assigned

California: Burnside fire

UPDATE @ 1:52 p.m. MT Aug. 9

Cool temperatures overnight in the 30s helped to slow the progress of this fire. Some structures are still threatened and the size is reported to be 150 acres.

=============================

A fast-moving fire south of Lake Tahoe had burned at least 125 acres as of Sunday evening. Two resorts, three campgrounds and about 20 homes are being evacuated for the fire south of Highway 88, 6 miles west of Woodfords. Sunday evening the fire was crowning in timber, pushed by strong west winds. A Type 3 incident management team has been ordered. Lat/Long: 38 45′ 28.8″ -119 55′ 23.17″ . HERE is a link to a Google map.

A strong cold front moved through the area Sunday night. Much cooler weather is expected for Monday and Monday night, followed by a rapid warm-up from Tuesday onward. Winds will remain generally light through at least Wednesday.



Photos courtesy of Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Aircraft used during the Seige of ’08

AINonline has an interesting article that summarizes the vast aircraft resources that were used during the lightning bust in northern California this summer. Here is an excerpt:

In addition to the rotorcraft assets, the effort employed a wide range of fixed-wing aircraft–ranging from a DC-10 waterbomber to the Predator UAV–to help control the blazes.

Cal Fire fielded a fleet of 23 S2T twin-turboprop waterbombers based out of the former McClellan AFB, along with 14 OV-10 Broncos used for aerial and ground control. Eight C-130 Hercules belonging to the Air Force Reserve and National Guard were quickly converted into fire bombers through the installation of modular airborne firefighting systems and used to great effect, according to authorities.

A pair of National Guard infrared-sensing RC-26s–used frequently on drug interdiction missions–was deployed to identify hot spots in the conflagration and relay real-time images to the crews on the ground. The massive Martin Mars flying boat and a squadron of four Convair CV-580s, each capable of carrying 2,000 gallons of flame retardant, came from Canada.

Re-seeding over the snow

Reseeding in the snow after a fireI thought this photo of a helicopter re-seeding over snow was interesting. They are working on an area southwest of Reno, Nevada that burned during the Hawkin fire on July 6. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

The photo caption:

“Helicopter pilot John Kelly of El Aero Services of Carson City drops seeds and mulch Monday over the Hawken Fire area. Each load weighs 800 pounds, and he was covering 340 acres with seeds and an additional 165 acres with mulch that should prevent erosion.”

More information from the Reno Gazette Journal:

“Seeds sown Monday across southwest Reno land scorched by the Hawken Fire are expected to bloom in the spring.

“We expect to see some growth. We’re hoping for a good germination,” said Sonya Hem, deputy director of the Nevada Land Conservancy. “We’ve been dropping pure live seed on the snow, sagebrush and bitter brush seeds.”

She said unlike some plants, those seeds need to be on the snow to germinate. The seeds were then covered with mulch to keep them on the ground, she said.

The partnership of Washoe County and the land conservancy is conducting the aerial seeding of 350 acres and aerial mulching of 165 acres of the Hawken area that burned in July.”