Above: Comet Fire, July 28, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
The heli-rappellers at the Salmon, Idaho airport saw the lightning strike on July 26 that caused the Comet fire 12 miles north of the town. So far it has burned 356 acres above the Salmon River near Highway 93.
The fire is being fought by four helicopters, seven engines, one Type 2 initial attack 22 person crew, one Hotshot crew, four heli-rappellers, and four smokejumpers.
Yesterday on the east-bound flights returning from the Aerial Firefighting conference in Sacramento I had selected window seats on the left side of the aircraft so the sun would be at my back, so to speak, illuminating the landscape with less glare from the usually dirty windows. The leg from Sacramento to Salt Lake City was routine, but when I arrived there was snow on the mountains east of the airport.
As I was boarding the next flight there was no enclosed jet bridge; instead we were outdoors using portable stairs. Just before walking into the aircraft door I stopped and took a cell phone photo of the snow-covered peaks (at the top of this article). The second photo of the same mountains was also taken with a cell phone.
Above: The Lame Johnny Fire east of Custer State Park. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
In spite of the snow that was on the ground the day before, firefighters dealt with two fires in the Black Hills of South Dakota on Sunday. The Lame Johnny Fire, named after the nearby Lame Johnny Creek and a road by the same name, burned about 50 acres of grass east of Custer State park and west of Highway 79.
The other, off Penial Road west of Custer, burned a couple of acres before fire crews knocked it down.
The cause of both was burning slash piles that escaped. With snow on the ground it is likely that the private landowners who ignited the piles felt comfortable yesterday, not expecting the snow to disappear so quickly.
The 747 SuperTanker arrived at McClellan Air Field in Sacramento today after flying in from Marana, Arizona where it received a new paint job. It will be on static display for attendees the Aerial Firefighting conference until Wednesday, March 23.
Bob Soelberg, Senior VP and Program Manager of Global Supertaker, said the retardant delivery system still needs a few tweaks before it can actually drop water or retardant, but they hope to have it ready to fight fire later this year.
(UPDATED at 1:20 p.m. MST March 4, 2016 with four more photos.)
Here are more photos from the Dudley Fire yesterday in Buffalo Gap, South Dakota taken by Bill Gabbert.
Two large cottonwood trees had fire established in the upper reaches of the branches and were threatening to fall.
This mobile home was seriously damaged and the asthmatic older woman who lived there may not be able to occupy it again. Rod Converse left this information in a comment on the original thread about the fire:
Please consider joining us in helping Millie Sanford get back on her feet after this fire. Milie is a caring and benevolent lady that has spent her life helping others in need. She did not have insurance, has no place to live and has little resources. If you feel led to help, her address is below.
PO Box 14, Buffalo Gap, SD 57722
The glass windows in the photo above softened and warped but remained in place. The cloudy areas on the panes are bowed out like a wave in the ocean.
You can watch the tall tree nearest the camera being cut down in the live video we broadcast from Periscope. It will go away after 24 hours, so you’ll need to watch it before 10 a.m. MST on Saturday March 5, 2016. More about our experiment with Periscope here.