Last year 104 people, including 6 firefighters, were killed on wildfires in 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.
The fire was burning at 12,000 feet above sea level
China’s state news agency Xinhua confirmed Tuesday that 27 firefighters and 3 locals lost their lives March 31 while battling a wildfire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
The agency said the fire burned 15 hectares (37 acres) in a remote area of the province at 3,700 meters (12,139 feet) above sea level.
“We’re ready to increase precipitation artificially,”said Wu Song, county chief of Muli, Sichuan’s Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture. He said the fire has been contained as of Tuesday.
Another fire in China, in Shanxi Province, is being fought by over 15,000 people, including professional firefighters, factory workers, soldiers, and police. Residents of 41 villages are under evacuation orders. The state news agency said “Firefighters have carved out a 40-km-long isolation belt. A second 6-km-long fire isolation belt is being bulldozed.”
Early reports are that at least 27 firefighters were killed while fighting a wildfire in China on March 31. The BBC said 30 firefighters died, while the China Xinhau News reported it was 27 firefighters and 3 civilians that perished.
A forest fire in southwestern China turned deadly over the weekend when winds shifted unexpectedly, trapping firefighters and local officials in a maelstrom. The bodies of 30 people who could not escape were found on Monday, officials announced, even as the fire continued to burn out of control.
Among those who died were the chief of a regional forestry bureau in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, and his deputy, state media reported. The officials had traveled to the scene of the fire, which broke out on Saturday in a remote location at altitudes nearing 13,000 feet, and had not been heard from since.
Our sincere condolences go out to the families, friends, and coworkers of the deceased.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Paula. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
The firefighter that died in the Texas helicopter crash on March 27 has been identified by the U.S. Forest Service as Daniel Laird, a Captain on the Tahoe Helitack crew in California. He leaves behind a wife and young daughter.
One source tells us that the other passenger was also a USFS firefighter who was sitting in the front seat when the aircraft went down, but reportedly walked away and was treated and released from a hospital.
The pilot was also transported to a hospital in stable condition, according to the information reported yesterday by Sergeant Erik Burse with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Below is a letter from the USFS Regional Forester in California:
“You may have already heard from Secretary Perdue and Chief Christiansen that we lost one of our own, Daniel Laird, yesterday, in a helicopter accident while conducting a prescribed burn with our Region 8 partners on the Sam Houston National Forest in Texas. Daniel was 41 years old and leaves behind his wife Heather and daughter Evain.
“Daniel started as a seasonal firefighter on the Tahoe [National Forest] and worked his way up to Helitack Captain. His passion was in aviation, but he was also known for his ability to lead a strike team of engines or a task force of hand crews and heavy equipment. He was a true leader in every sense. He was dedicated to being an instructor and a believer in the apprentice program, where he helped grow people just like himself. Daniel was originally from Graeagle, CA, and committed his working life to the Forest Service. He was extremely knowledgeable about his craft and loved his job. He had an infectious smile, natural physical talent, and his greatest love of all was his family.
“Our Forest Service family is hurting over this tremendous loss. It is an emotional time and Daniel’s loss can impact even the strongest among us. We grieve with Daniel’s immediate family, friends, and community. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers. The Region is providing support to the Tahoe and all who need it as they digest this sad news. I will pass more details on arrangements once they become available.
“Please continue to look out for one another and take care of one another.”
Randy Moore Regional Forester USFS R5
(UPDATED at 9 a.m. CDT March 28, 2019)
The deceased firefighter was a U.S. Forest Service employee who, along with the other firefighter and the pilot, were on an aerial ignition mission. Their equipment was dropping plastic spheres that burst into flame after hitting the ground, helping to ignite the prescribed fire. No names have been released.
(Originally published at 7:20 p.m. CDT March 27, 2019)
One firefighter was killed in the crash of a helicopter today while working on a prescribed fire in the Sam Houston National Forest about 30 miles southeast of College Station, Texas south of Highway 149.
Sergeant Erik Burse with the Texas Department of Public Safety said the Eurocopter AS350 went down at about 2 p.m. with three people on board, a pilot and two firefighters. One of the firefighters was deceased on scene. The pilot and a second firefighter were transported to a hospital in stable condition after rescuers extracted them from the wreckage using jaws and air bags.
Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers of the firefighter, and we hope for a speedy recovery of the injured personnel.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Perry. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
The operator was working for a prescribed fire contractor
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.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Brent. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
The Wildland fire Lessons Learned Center has released a Facilitated Learning Analysis on the fatality of Jack Osben, the grader operator who was burned over while working on the Shaw Fire in Western Oklahoma April 12, 2018. The tragedy occurred during extreme conditions — extended drought, 100 degrees, 5 percent relative humidity, 45 mph winds, and the fire was burning in thick grass that had not been grazed or hayed in seven to eight years.
On April 12th, 2018, 61-year-old Jack Osben, a motor grader operator for Roger Mills County in Oklahoma and volunteer firefighter died as a result of thermal burns while providing initial attack to the Shaw Fire. The wildfire grew to approximately 3,500 acres in a mixture of grass and shrubs during a Red Flag Warning day. The employees of Roger Mills County were in a state of readiness due to a mixture of prolonged drought, extreme heat, and gusting winds that had created extremely dangerous wildfire conditions.
Jack was performing progressive line construction using a motor grader on the Shaw Fire. While he had been working as a grader operator for a few years, he had limited experience using the grader related to fire suppression activities. Between 1400-1430 hours Jack met up and began working with Alex, a fellow grader operator who had more than two decades of experience fighting fire.
Although they entered the field at different locations, they converged almost immediately. Alex instructed Jack to fall in line behind him to improve the initial grader line. After working together to establish line for about 4,000 feet, Alex lost sight of Jack’s grader in the smoke and flames, which had grown significantly and shifted directions quickly.
Due to the fire’s shift in direction, Alex was forced to abandon his grader. He began to walk toward a nearby road when he spotted Jack, who was also on foot emerging from the smoke. They spoke briefly when they met. Alex observed that Jack had visible burns to his arms and was possibly suffering from smoke inhalation. The reality was that Jack’s injuries were much worse than they appeared. He died as a result of thermal burns either during transit in the ambulance or right after arriving at the hospital.
This accident took place in Western Oklahoma where the tactical use of motor graders for wildland fire line construction is common. Additionally, there is different emphasis on values at risk, namely that firefighters in Western Oklahoma commonly protect grass for cattle grazing. Other regions may rank grass as a low value-at-risk but it is absolutely a consideration for how people in this region fight fire and manage land1.
This is the first Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) to emerge from the State of Oklahoma. In brief, the FLA process is meant to facilitate learning from unintended outcomes by interviewing people who were involved in the event, and sharing a collective story of their experiences. We also offer lessons learned from those involved and with their help, generate recommendations that may be useful for people within and outside of the region.
For many readers, this analysis will serve as an introduction to a different way of fighting fire with some of these methods appearing unconventional. But, in the words of one of the grader operators, “you make do with what you have.” Even if the methods and context are different, this statement ties together the ethos of wildland firefighters everywhere. It is also important to note that the men and women of Roger Mills County are exceptional at what they do and have an impressive record of doing it safely.