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.

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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.”