Oklahoma: 35 mph winds challenge firefighters in Craig County

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News9 has some excellent footage of fire engines attacking grass fires in Craig County, Oklahoma on Thursday. Firefighters are appreciating some wet weather today, but yesterday a fire burned 800 acres and destroyed a barn. Wind gusting up to 35 mph challenged firefighters from more than 20 departments to contain the fire that was three miles long and a half mile wide. According to reports the fire jumped two county roads and a state highway.

Map of multiple tornado paths in Moore, Oklahoma

(Originally published at 4:09 p.m. CT, May 21, 2013; see update below, May 22)

No doubt you have heard about the massive and very tragic tornado that devastated large sections of Moore, Oklahoma Monday. Our sincere condolences go out to those that are affected by the loss of life and property.

ESRI has put together the map below which not only shows the path of Monday’s tornado, but you can configure it to also show the paths of the two tornadoes that went through the town in 1999 and 2003 — click on “Layers”, then check the boxes. You may need to zoom out to see all three of them. (All three tornado paths may not display perfectly with Internet Explorer or a mobile device.)

Response of land management agencies and wildland firefighters

We are not aware of any large numbers of widland firefighters or Federal/State interagency incident management teams being assigned. If that changes, we’ll update this area in the article.

UPDATE at 8:58 a.m. CT, May 22, 2013:

There is still no word of large numbers of wildland firefighters or land management agency personnel being assigned to the incident. But here is what FEMA is mobilizing, as of 5:11 p.m. May 21:

  • Preliminary damage assessment teams, comprised of representatives from the state, FEMA and the Small Business Administration, are on the ground and will begin assessments today, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
  • Three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams (Texas Task Force 1, Nebraska Task Force 1 and Tennessee Task Force 1) and an Incident Support Team have been deployed to support the immediate response efforts.
  • One national and two regional Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to coordinate with state and local officials in support of recovery operations.
  • Two Mobile Emergency Response Support Teams are in Oklahoma to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements, to assist in the immediate response needs and additional teams are being deployed.
  • Three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are scheduled to arrive later today into communities to perform the Assess, Inform, and Report (AIR) Missions, a tool to help federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners gather detailed information on the affected areas during the critical first hours, days and weeks after a disaster strikes. DSATs will address immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-site registration, applicant status checks, on-the-spot needs assessments, and access to partners offering survivor services.
  • FEMA activated the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., a multi-agency coordination center that provides overall coordination of the federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for assistance, and FEMA’s Region VI Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) located in Denton, Texas remains activated.

UPDATE at 4:43 p.m. CT, May 21, 2013: 

The National Park Service has two two Search and Rescue Liaison Officers assigned. One liaison is working with FEMA at the ESF#9 cell in DC, the other is deployed with the FEMA IST in Moore, OK. NPS has one FEMA Mission Assignment for SAR coordination and planning. The primary focus is on urban and wide-area search and rescue. All forces are still working in a “rescue” posture.

Information from FEMA

Below is information from FEMA about their response as of 5:30 a.m. ET Tuesday:


“In response, the Oklahoma EOC fully activated to Level I and the President declared Major Disaster Declaration FEMA-4117-DR for the State of Oklahoma.

FEMA Region VI RRCC is activated to Level II, with a regional IMAT and LNOs deployed to Oklahoma’s SEOC. Additionally, the Regional Administrator remains in contact with State officialsTwo (2) Individual Assistance (IA), Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA)Teams arrived at 1:15 a.m. EDT, May 21, 2013. Denton MERS is deploying one (1) mobile emergency operations vehicle (MEOV) and one (1) initial response vehicle (IRV).

FEMA’s NRCC is activated to Level II (w/ESFs, 1-3, 6-9, 15 and all LNOs). National IMAT-White is activated and deploying to Oklahoma. FEMA Logistics ADVON and Main Body ISB personnel and ISB equipment cache will deploy to Will Roger Airport (Haggar Facility), Oklahoma City, OK. Urban Search and Rescue Task Task Forces TX-TF1, NE-TF1 & TN-TF1 are activated/deploying to Will Roger Airport (Haggar Facility), Oklahoma City, OK.”

Fire contractor interviewed on CNN about sequestration

Choleta Fire on CNN

Mark Masters, the CEO of Chloeta Fire, sent us some photos taken of a live interview they did with CNN Wednesday regarding the effects that sequestration may have on wildland fire management. Mr. Masters is a former rappeller, Fire Management Officer, dispatcher, and National Interagency Fire Center employee now running the fire contracting company in Oklahoma.

Choleta Fire on CNN Choleta Fire on CNN


Oklahoma: more photos from Chickasaw NRA

Prescribed fire at Chickasaw National Recreation AreaThe National Park Service has been consistently posting photos from prescribed fire activities at Chickasaw National Recreation Area over the last year. We have featured some of them here and here. The photo above is one of 18 that were posted Wednesday on their Facebook page, which were taken February 16-19 by Michelle Fidler and Dan Winings.

Oklahoma: Prescribed fire at Chickasaw NRA

Prescribed fire at Chickasaw National Recreation Area

These five excellent photos were taken by M. Fidler during a prescribed fire project in Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma at the end of January and the beginning of February, 2013. The name of the prescribed fire was Cedar Reduction 2013. Many more pictures are on the National Park Service Fire and Aviation Management Facebook page.

Prescribed fire at Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Continue reading “Oklahoma: Prescribed fire at Chickasaw NRA”

Google donates water tanks to Oklahoma fire departments

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Google's water storage tanks
Some of the 30 water storage tanks Google donated to fire departments and other government agencies in Oklahoma.

Google, the search engine giant, has donated 30 huge water storage tanks to fire departments and other government agencies in Oklahoma. The company has a data center in Oklahoma and uses large quantities of water for cooling, but they no longer had a use for these 10 by 30 foot tanks that weigh 15,000 pounds and hold about 20,000 gallons.

“We have fantastic public servants in Mayes County and all over the state,” Mike Wooten, Google data center operations manager, said in a prepared statement. “We hope these water storage tanks will help make their jobs easier in emergency situations and provide an ongoing benefit for many Oklahomans.”

In addition to being used by fire departments, three will go to Oklahoma State University’s Fire Service Training facility near Stillwater, which will use them to train state firefighters. Currently their water system does not have adequate pressure to provide the type of training needed.

If new, the tanks would have cost $1.6 million.

Some public agencies are considering converting the tanks into tornado shelters for government employees. They plan to install a door, then partially bury them and cover what remains above the ground with dirt.