Wildfire burns area scheduled for prescribed fire the next day

Virtually the entire 274-acre project area burned

Tolleston 1 Fire Indiana Dunes National Park
Tolleston 1 Fire in Indiana Dunes National Park, April 12, 2019. Photo: NPS Great Lakes Fire Management Zone.

A wildfire Friday in northwest Indiana burned virtually the entire area that was going to be burned today in a prescribed fire.

The fire was reported at 4:30 p.m. CDT in the Tolleston Dunes area in Indiana Dunes National Park west of County Line Road between highways 12 and 20. It was within the area that had been prepped for a prescribed fire. Since firelines had been established the blaze was easier to battle than your typical wildfire. However strong winds Friday afternoon were a factor. A nearby weather station recorded 29 percent relative humidity and winds out of the south at 18 to 28 mph with 30 to 40 mph gusts.

The forecast for Sunday calls for 34 degrees and almost an inch of precipitation consisting of a rain/snow mix.

Micah Bell, Fire Information Officer for the Great Lakes Fire Management Zone, said virtually the entire 274-acre project area burned before it was contained by the 15 firefighters at 9 p.m. Friday.

Tolleston 1 Fire Indiana Dunes National Park
Tolleston 1 Fire in Indiana Dunes National Park, April 12, 2019. Photo: NPS Great Lakes Fire Management Zone.

Obviously the planned prescribed fire was cancelled. Firefighters are mopping up at the blaze today.

Tolleston 1 Fire Indiana Dunes National Park
Firefighters mopping up the Tolleston 1 Fire in Indiana Dunes National Park, April 13, 2019. Photo: NPS Great Lakes Fire Management Zone.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was upgraded to a National Park February 15, becoming the first National Park in Indiana.

Live reporting from a prescribed fire

prescribed fire video live
Micah and Laura as seen in the video shot at a prescribed fire.
Yesterday firefighters at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in northwest Indiana broadcast a live report from a prescribed fire. This is at least the second time we’re aware of that they have used this new feature on Facebook. When they did it on March 19, 2016 Facebook was only allowing a relatively small number of users to stream live. Now they are rolling out this ability to everyone.

Periscope and a few other apps have been doing this for a year or more, but Facebook having this ability to send live video to hundreds of millions of users is a game-changer. I expect we will see more live reports from wildfires and prescribed fires around the world this summer.

Indiana Dunes ignites prescribed fires at West Beach

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore applied prescribed fire to about half a dozen units yesterday live-streaming from the scene two or three times on Facebook. The recordings are preserved and we posted a couple of them here.

The units the park worked on were in the West Beach area, a portion of the 600 acres they expect to burn this spring. The park is on the south shore of Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore prescribed fire

Photos and videos by Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Fire engine burns in Indiana wildfire

Liberty brush truck burns
A firefighter with the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department watches as their brush truck burns. Photo credit, Liberty Volunteer Fire Department.

From Pal-Item:

A brush rig belonging to the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department in central Indiana burnd while fighting a vegetation fire near Indiana 101 South.

Firefighter Matt Reuss, who was driving the small truck said firefighters already had applied two tanks of water to the fire and were on their way for a third load when the wind shifted.

“The truck died in the bottom of the field,” Reuss said. “I got it started and was driving uphill when (farmer) Kevin Pinkerton yelled, ‘Your truck is on fire.’”

Firefighter Jeff Moles, who was a passenger in the truck, said fire and smoke quickly surrounded the truck.

“I couldn’t even see Matt,” Moles said.

Moles and Reuss escaped the vehicle without injury, but the truck is a total loss, Chief Jim Barnhizer said.

“It’s about as totaled as it can get,” Reuss said.

The fire likely was sucked into the engine compartment through the engine’s air breather, Barnhizer said

Federal government files suit against railroad for starting fire in Indiana

fire in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
The fire in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on March 10, 2012. (screen grab from the video below).

For decades the railroads in northwest Indiana south of Lake Michigan have been starting fires on private and public land, including Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Caused mostly by poor maintenance of their spark arrestors, the railroad companies were rarely if ever held accountable for the damage they caused.

In one case that may be changing. According to the Chicago Tribune, the federal government has filed suit against the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad which goes through Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The railroad allegedly started what became a 391-acre fire on March 10, 2012 that spread seven miles across the park, forcing residents of the community of Ogden Dunes to evacuate.

Below is an excerpt from the article in the Chicago Tribune:

…The fire burned through 391 acres of the national lakeshore, including the lakeshore’s Karner blue butterfly habitat, where the park had been trying to reintroduce the endangered species and to study the best landscape variations to do so.

The fire destroyed the data from the research, according to the lawsuit, along with other park property.

The government says that evidence, including a video, shows that hot cinders from a passing Indiana Harbor train were ejected from the train, which the lawsuit claims started the brush fire.

It adds that two of the train’s spark arrestor carbon traps were plugged and that front exhaust stack opening showed moderate to heavy carbon accumulation.

The government is asking that Indiana Harbor pay for all the damages and forfeit two of its locomotives toward that cost.

The video below shows a portion of the fire that day in 2012.

We wrote about the 2012 fire HERE and HERE.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Joe.