Eight Incident Management Teams mobilized to Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Above: The U.S. Navy assists a victim of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. U.S. Navy Photo.

Eight Incident Management Teams have, or will soon be responding to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist in the response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. As of Wednesday evening a total of 353 personnel have been assigned to the FEMA response through the National Interagency Fire Center. This does not include the resources mobilized directly by FEMA.

Here are the details, according to NIFC:

  • A Type 1 IMT (McGowen) has arrived in Puerto Rico and is coordinating with FEMA regarding establishment of an Incident Support Base for the receipt and distribution of commodities, supplies and resources at Aguadilla Airport.
  • A Type 2 IMT (Zombro) and 23 two-person saw teams are coordinating with FEMA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency regarding plans and priorities for emergency road clearing. Lack of ground transportation is delaying operations.
  • A Type 2 IMT from FDNY (Kane) is working with San Juan Fire Department to assess fire protection capabilities and needs.
  • Two Type 2 IMTs (Bird, Parrish) have arrived in Virgin Islands to establish and manage LSAs [Logistics Staging Areas] in St. Croix and St. Thomas to further distribute commodities and supplies to points of distribution on each island.
  • While not part of the ESF #4 [Emergency Services Function #4, firefighting] response, 52 Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers continue to support ESF #13 in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • A NIMO [National Incident Management Organization] (Quesinberry) is staged in Atlanta, GA, awaiting transportation to the U.S. Virgin Islands to support the Territory’s Emergency Operations Center in St. Thomas.
  • Nine two-person saw teams and overhead are staged in Harrisburg, PA; they are scheduled to fly to Puerto Rico on September 28.
  • Two Type 2 IMTs have been ordered to support LSAs and will arrive in Atlanta on September 29 and 30 to await transportation to the Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands region.

New York Task Force 1 Puerto Rico

A U.S. Navy Osprey delivers supplies in Puerto Rico. U.S. Navy Photo.

Wildfire briefing, March 30, 2014

Prescribed fire smoke in Manhattan, Kansas
Prescribed fire smoke in Manhattan, Kansas, March 29, 2014. Photo by Eric Ward.

Prescribed fire smoke in the Flint Hills

In light of the discussion on Wildfire Today about prescribed fire as a tourist attraction in the Flint Hills of Kansas, Eric Ward sent us the above photo that he took Saturday afternoon in smoky Manhattan, Kansas. He explained that many of the ranchers in the area conduct extensive burning projects this time of the year in order to enhance weight gains of cattle if they plan to stock pastures in May. On days when the relative humidity and wind speed are within an acceptable range, the evidence of the burning is very visible in the atmosphere, especially if weather for the previous week or so has been bouncing between snow and red flag weather conditions, as it has this year.

Colorado report recommends contracting for air tankers and helicopters

Colorado Firefighting Air CorpsA long-awaited report about aerial firefighting by state agencies in Colorado was released Friday by the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps (CFAC). Some of the more significant recommendations include:

  • Increase the number of Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT) on exclusive use contracts from two to four.
  • Contract for the exclusive use of four Type 3 or larger rotor-wing aircraft. (Type 3 helicopters can carry 100 to 300 gallons.)
  • Contract for the exclusive use of two Type 2 or larger air tankers. (Type 2 air tankers can carry 1,800 to 3,000 gallons). The contingency, if the State is unable to contract for two air tankers, is to contract for two helitankers, or a combination of one fixed-wing air tanker and one helitanker.

More details are at Fire Aviation.

Arizona seeks to immunize the state from liability from wildfires

A bill that was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee, House Bill 2343, would exempt the state and state employees from prosecution for harm resulting from the action, or inaction by state employees on state lands. Hundreds of millions of dollars in claims have been filed by the families of the 19 firefighters killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire and by property owners whose homes burned. The fire was managed by the state of Arizona in June, 2013.

Firefighters assisting with Oso landslide

Personnel that usually can be found at wildfires are helping to manage the response to the tragic landslide at Oso, Washington. We have reports that some of the resources assisting include Washington Incident Management Team #4 (a Type 2 team), miscellaneous overhead, and some Washington Department of Natural Resources chain saw teams. The IMTeam was dispatched on March 27.

New topic from “Safety Matters”

The “Safety Matters” group has released their “Topic #5”, and they are seeking input from wildland firefighters. Below is an excerpt:

…2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of South Canyon and the 38th Anniversary of Battlement Creek. Both fires fit the model of firefighters dying in a brush fuel type, on a slope, during hot and dry conditions.

The loss of the Granite Mountain Hotshots indicates that a significant accident occurs every 18 to 20 years. Is there a reoccurring cycle, and if so why? Could it be related to a cyclic turnover of firefighter culture, training and attitude? What are the thoughts of Safety Matters readers?

Bushfire season ends in New South Wales

The bushfire season has reached its official end in New South Wales.

Tribute to author Norman Maclean

The Daily Beast has reprinted an excellent essay that Pete Dexter wrote for Esquire in 1981 about Norman Maclean. It explores a side of of the author that is not revealed in his book about firefighters, Young Men and Fire. Mr. Dexter spent quite a bit of time with Mr. Maclean, who at that time was writing the final chapter. Mr. Maclean also wrote A River Runs Through It, which was made into a movie starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. The Esperanza Fire, a book written by his son John N. Maclean, is working its way towards becoming a movie.

U.S. National Guard assists with fire in Puerto Rico

From the AP:

Puerto Rico has enlisted the U.S. National Guard to help extinguish a fire that has ravaged a forest in the island’s central region. Firefighting Chief Angel Crespo says that about 40 percent of the Modelo Forest in the town of Adjuntas has been destroyed. Authorities say they believe the fire was intentionally set and that it has consumed up to 290 acres (117 hectares). A U.S. National Guard helicopter helped dump water over the area on Friday.

Fantastic photo