Wildfire briefing, April 9, 2014

MAFFS training in California

The California Channel Islands Air National Guard Station at Port Hueneme is conducting annual refresher and certification training this week for their crews that staff the C-130 aircraft used as air tankers when outfitted with the transportable Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS).

The Wyoming and North Carolina National Guard MAFFS units will train in Cheyenne, Wyoming beginning April 28, while the Colorado Springs Air Force Reserve unit will hold their training the week of May 16.

The four military units that host MAFFS crews have a total of eight C-130 aircraft that can be activated when what remains of the federal air tanker fleet is committed to going fires or initial attack.

Michigan man dies of injuries suffered while burning brush

A 70-year old man died after he was badly burned in a brush fire near Hart, Michigan on Monday, April 8. From mlive.com:

Roger D. Kludy, 70, died at the hospital, according to Oceana County Sheriff’s Lt. Craig Mast. There was little information known about the incident early Tuesday morning, Mast said. But authorities believe Kludy was burning brush on Adams Road Monday afternoon when something went awry and Kludy suffered severe burns. Michigan State Police is handling the investigation, Mast said.

South Carolina brush fire burns or damages 13 structures

A brush fire near Greer, South Carolina that started from a lit cigarette, caused damage estimated at $1.8 million on Wednesday, April 2. The fire destroyed three units in a condominium and a single family dwelling. Nine other structures were damaged.

Training residents to spot wildfires

“Woods Watch” training is being offered Friday to residents in Flagstaff, Arizona. According to the AP, in the one-hour course participants will learn how to properly report incidents that could start wildfires, such as people sneaking into closed areas and disregarding fire restrictions.

Incident Management Teams meet in Cheyenne

Incident Management Teams from the Rocky Mountain Region are holding their annual meeting in Cheyenne, Wyoming this week to review standard operating procedures, discuss new policies, and get to know each other before the wildland fire season begins. About 250 team members will attend from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Wildfire briefing, January 13, 2014

One resident dead and 49 homes destroyed in Australian bushfire

One person collapsed and died on the roof of his house while spraying water to defend his home from a fire in the Perth hills of Western Australia on Sunday. The 62-year old man’s house was not damaged while the 650-hectare (1,606 acres) fire burned 49 others in the Shire of Mundaring. One resident tried to get back to their house on Monday afternoon and suffered burns to the hands and feet.

More information.

Three homes burn in Kansas wildfire

At least three homes burned Sunday in a large grass fire near the Kansas-Missouri border. The 600-acre fire was pushed by very strong winds which caused problems for the firefighters that responded from both Kansas and Missouri. Cherokee County officials said the fire may have been caused by a power line that failed due to the wind.

Wind speeds in Missouri and Kansas,  January 12, 2014
Wind speeds in Missouri and Kansas, January 12, 2014

Red Flag Warnings, January 13

Red Flag Warnings, January 13, 2014
Red Flag Warnings (red) and Fire Weather Watches (beige), January 13, 2014

Areas in southern California, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas are under Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings today.

UPDATE at 6:25 p.m. PST, January 13, 2014. The Red Flag Warning areas in California have grown:

Red Flag Warnings, California, 1-13-2014

More information.

2014 MAFFS Commander named

North Carolina resident Col. Charles D. Davis III will command the national military mission charged with combating wildland fires using C-130 aircraft outfitted with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System.

Col Charles D Davis III
Col. Charles D Davis III, USAF photo by Master Sgt. Patricia Moran

“MAFFS is a team effort,” said Davis, who also commands the Operations Group at the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing based at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C. “We protect lives and property from forest fires, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

As commander of the Air Expeditionary Group Wildland Fire Fighting, Davis will lead three Air National Guard and one U.S. Air Force Reserve Command units that fly military C-130 aircraft and use them as aerial tankers. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, the Group controls MAFFS operations nationwide at the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.

A U.S. Air Force master navigator with more than 5,300 hours of military flying time, Davis, of Weddington, N.C., has more than 1,000 hours of combat time earned supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In civilian life, he is an Airbus A330 Flight Crew Training Instructor at U.S. Airways.

Arizona legislators consider bills related to hotshots’ deaths

State legislators in Arizona are considering bills that are related to wildfire management and the deaths of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The firefighters were entrapped and killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire near Yarnell, Arizona on June 30, 2013.

  • The state organization responsible for managing the Yarnell Hill Fire is requesting a budget for the Arizona State Forestry Division that is nearly double what they received in the fiscal year that ends June 30.
  • A bill is being considered that would allow local governments to ban the sale of certain fireworks.
  • Another bill seeks to clarify what autopsy documents and photos are available to the public. County authorities refused to release autopsy reports for the Yarnell Hill firefighters.
  • Some legislators want the state to buy the state trust land where the hotshots died so it can be preserved as a memorial.
  • Legislators are considering helping the city of Prescott with its costs related to the hotshots’ deaths, but they may wait until the 100+ claims and/or lawsuits are settled before proposing anything specific.
  • They may propose legislation that would at least provide life insurance for public safety workers.

Type 2 helicopter contracts contested

WorldWind Helicopters has protested the contracts that were awarded for 31 Type 2 helicopters used to fight wildland fires. On December 17 the U.S. Forest Service announced exclusive use contracts for the award period that began December 17 and ends April 30, 2015 with options for three additional years. The solicitation was first announced on April 5, 2013 and took over eight months to complete.

More information.

Wing box replacements in the USFS C-130s

Coast Guard C-130H No 1714
Coast Guard C-130H No 1714, October, 2008. This is one of the seven C-130s being transferred to the U.S. Forest Service. Photo by PhantomPhan1974

The legislation that enabled the transfer of seven C-130H aircraft from the Coast Guard to the U.S. Forest Service to serve as air tankers required that the wing boxes be replaced and other maintenance be performed.

Fire Aviation has more information about the replacement of the wing boxes and other steps that must be taken to convert the C-130Hs into air tankers.

Wildfire briefing, September 6, 2013

Scientists expect fire risk in the U.S. to escalate by the end of the century

Map elevated wildfire risk, climate changeHot and dry conditions lead to more fires. Those were the findings presented in 2012 by a team of researchers that used NASA satellite data and climate models to predict fire activity in the United States. Now, a new animation shows how dry conditions will cause different parts of the U.S., Canada and Mexico to experience an increased risk of fire by the end of the century. By mapping projected values for a measure of dryness known as the potential evaporation—a calculation that’s based on temperature, rainfall and wind speed estimates—scientists are able to interpret how fire activity will be influenced by future climates. Changes in dryness relative to 1980 levels are shown in the animation using colors, where reds represent an increase in dryness and blues represent a decrease. Watch the video to see how dry conditions are expected to spread across North America by the year 2100.

Another firefighter fatality in Portugal

A seventh firefighter in a month passed away in a hospital in Portugal after suffering burn injuries on a wildland fire last week.

MAFFS demobilized

Five military Modular Airborne FireFighting System C-130 air tankers were released  from fire suppression duty yesterday. Since the year’s initial activation June 11, MAFFS crews have flown 572 missions and made 535 drops using 1,375,981 gallons of fire retardant. That works out to 2,406 gallons per mission.

Granite Mountain Hotshots memorial items to be removed

Soon after 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, mourners began placing memorial items on the fence surrounding their compound at the Prescott Fire Department. Now over two months later the city decided they have to do something with the hundreds of objects which include T-shirts, photos, posters, and other items. The City announced Thursday that the Fire Department and area volunteers would begin to remove them on Sept. 10.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Daily Courier:

Now, officials say, it is time to begin packing away the items for preservation, and possible inclusion in a more permanent memorial in the future.

“Items that are able to be preserved will be temporarily stored until plans are finalized for the future permanent memorial,” the city’s new release stated.

City officials have noted that the outdoor elements have taken a toll on many of the items. Flowers, cardboard signs, and other perishable items were earlier removed. Many of the T-shirts from fire departments around the country have faded from dark-blue to gray.


MAFFS air tankers assist crew in trouble

A TV station in Sacramento, California has a story about Military MAFFS C-130 air tankers making some retardant drops to assist a hand crew that was in a difficult situation on the RIM fire recently.

I am intrigued by the “common operating picture” that was mentioned by the national guard gentleman.

Our main article about the Rim Fire at Yosemite National Park is updated daily with maps and current information.

Idaho: multiple fires east of Boise

(UPDATE at 10:50 a.m. MDT, August 19, 2013)

Map of Beaver Creek fire
Map of Beaver Creek Fire at 1 a.m. MDT, August 19, 2013

The Beaver Creek fire has not spread as much in the last two days as it did last week. This is due in part to the fire hitting the footprint of the 2007 Castle Rock Fire west of Ketchum, which can be seen on the map below posted on August 17.

The interior of the fire was active Sunday and there was some fire growth on the north and south ends of the fire. Red Flag conditions, including higher temperatures and wind gusts to 38 miles per hour, increased fire activity on the Beaver Creek Fire Sunday afternoon and evening. 1,150 firefighters working with 10 helicopters and 8 bulldozers expanded fire lines while large unburned areas within the fire lines and along the north and south edges of the fire sent columns of smoke 15,000 feet into the air. The fire is now 104,457 acres in size

The fire area is under a Fire Weather Watch on Monday.

Beaver Creek Fire
Beaver Creek Fire, old school and new school. InciWeb photo.


(UPDATE at 1:33 p.m. MDT, August 17, 2013)

Map of Beaver Creek fire at 2 am MDT, August 17, 2013
Map of Beaver Creek fire at 2 a.m. MDT, August 17, 2013 (click to enlarge)

Extreme fire behavior occurred on the Beaver Creek Fire again on Friday, prompting additional evacuations, preevacuation warnings and the ordering of additional resources. The fire was active in the Greenhorn Gulch, Deer Creek, Dollarhide, and Baker Creek areas. The Baker Creek head of the fire produced a massive pyrocumulous column, while fire whirls, torching trees, and crown fire were visible from Hailey and the Highway 75 corridor leading to Ketchum.

At least one home, a bunkhouse and five other structures have been destroyed. However, the exact number of structures destroyed or damaged on August 15 is unknown. At least one primary residence was destroyed and there was damage to several others. The bridge on FS road 227 which connects Ketchum and Fairfield was destroyed. The loss of multiple outbuildings is certain. One Remote Automatic Weather Station (RAWS) was also destroyed.


Continue reading “Idaho: multiple fires east of Boise”

Wildfire briefing, July 12, 2013

Congressional hearing about Wildfire and Forest Management

On Thursday the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing about wildland fire and forest management. You can watch a 2 hour and 15 minute video of it at C-SPAN. (Are there any volunteers who would like to watch it and give us a summary?)

Here is how it is described at C-SPAN:

“Wildfire and Forest Service officials testified on ways to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The hearing also focused on the increasing number and intensity of wildfires in the West and Southwest.

Representatives Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) testified in the first panel.

Panel Two:

  • Jim Hubbard, Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • James Douglas, Acting Director, office of Wildland Fire, Senior Adviser, Public Safety, Resource Protection and Emergency Services, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Phil Rigdon, Deputy Director, Yakama Indian Nation Department of Natural Resources
  • Joe Duda, Deputy State Forester, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado State University
  • Christopher Topik, Director, Restoring America’s Forestsm, North America Region
  • Chuck Roady, Vice President & General Manager, F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company”

NIFC lowers Preparedness Level

The National Interagency Fire Center has lowered the national Preparedness Level from 3 to 2.

MAFFS sent home

By the end of the day the U.S. Forest Service will release the four Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) C-130 air tankers being operated by the military. The last four remaining are from California and North Carolina.

Map of Chariot Fire

CAL FIRE, the agency responsible for suppressing the devastating wildfire that spread from the desert to the mountain community of Mt. Laguna east of San Diego, still has not released a current map of the fire showing that it burned significant acreage in the Cleveland National Forest and wiped out much of the Al Bahr Shrine Camp. Their last map is dated July 8. Approximately 149 structures were destroyed and 9 were damaged.

Smoke Map

Wildfire smoke map
Wildfire smoke map at 4:30 p.m. MDT July 12, 2013

The map below shows the distribution of smoke from fires in the United States and Canada as of 4:40 p.m. MDT, July 12, 2013.