New Landsat satellite photographs Springs fire

Springs Fire, Landsat photo
Springs fire (in red), photographed May 4, 2013 by Landsat. NASA photo. (click to enlarge)

The new Landsat satellite launched a few months ago photographed the Springs fire that burned 24,251 acres northwest of Los Angeles earlier this month. The photo above was acquired on May 4, two days after the fire started.

At the NASA web site, there are many options for viewing and downloading more detailed images and the ability to click on “View Both Images” which causes a slider to appear enabling you to compare before and after satellite photos of the fire area. You can also download a Google Earth file.

The fire burned very, very close to thousands of homes, but none were destroyed. But 10 outbuildings were destroyed, and 6 commercial structures and 6 outbuildings were damaged. You have to give a lot of credit to the community planning and preparedness of the homeowners for the lack of damage to the residences.


Wildfire briefing, May 5, 2013

Michigan woman found dead in wildfire

From the Milan News-Leader in Milan, Michigan:

The 76-year-old London Township woman found dead Wednesday afternoon from a fire in a wooded area was trying to get away when she was trapped by a fence. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has identified her as Anna Eliva Pinto, a resident of 10460 Darling Road. Investigators believe she was burning brush when the fire grew out of control and she was unable to escape it.

Firefighters worked several hours to extinguish the fire that affected an area of 5-7 acres. Milan Fire Chief Robert Stevens said fire suppression efforts were well underway when a Milan firefighter found the deceased woman by a 6-foot fence that separates properties in the eastern side of the area.

Chief Deputy John Plath with the sheriff’s office said investigators believe Pinto was trying to walk or run to the east and was stopped by the fence. She was overcome by smoke and flames, he said. She suffered some burns but the cause of death has not yet been determined, he said. He said it is possible smoke inhalation or other medical issues could have contributed to her death.

Animation of satellite images of smoke from the Springs Fire northwest of Los Angeles

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies put together an animation using still images from a GOES weather satellite which shows the evolution of smoke from the Springs Fire which has burned about 28,000 acres. Check it out at this Discover Magazine web site… then scroll down until you see the “Click to Play” video.

More information about the Springs Fire at Wildfire Today.

Springs Fire narrated slide show

A narrated slide show of photographs of the Springs Fire is very much worth two minutes of your time.  It features photos taken by Los Angeles Times photographers.

California: Springs fire in Ventura County spreads rapidly near hundreds of homes

Map of Springs Fire
Map of the Springs Fire near Camarillo, California in Ventura County. The red line was the perimeter at 10:30 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013. The white line is from 24 hours previously, the evening of May 2. (click to enlarge)

(UPDATE May 13, 2013)

Just to finish things up, the fire was 100 percent contained several days ago. The final size was 24,251 acres.


(UPDATE at 7:23 a.m. PT, May 6, 2013)

It is raining in the Los Angeles area this morning. Some of the weather stations near the fire have received about a quarter of an inch since Sunday night.

The incident commander of the Springs Fire is calling the fire 28,000 acres and 80 percent contained. They expect full containment on May 7.


(UPDATE at 6:50 a.m. PT, May 5, 2013)

Firefighters are continuing to make progress on the Springs Fire near Camarillo northwest of Los Angeles. The Incident Commander is calling it 60 percent contained and 28,000 acres. CAL FIRE reports that all evacuations have been lifted, with full containment expected on May 6.

There is minimal fire activity. The remaining firefighters continue to construct control lines, mop up, and patrol the fire perimeter. There is an increase in demobilization of firefighting resources.

Potrero Road is closed between Reino Road and Hidden Valley. Residents may return to their homes with proper identification. Residents are encouraged to access Hidden Valley from West Lake Boulevard.


(UPDATE at 7:10 a.m. PT, May 4, 2012)

The weather that caused the Springs Fire to spread rapidly over tens of thousands of acres has moderated significantly with much higher relative humidites and lower wind speeds. By late Friday night there was much less activity on the fire than earlier in the day. At 7 a.m. Saturday morning the winds over most of the fire varied from zero to 5 mph with humidities ranging from 30 to 74 percent, a drastic change from 30+ mph and 3 percent.

During the day on Friday the fire spread east across Point Mugu State Park coming up to the edge of Hidden Valley, an area with many huge mega-mansions.

With the latest map, updated at 10:30 p.m. Friday (shown above), fire managers will probably fine tune yesterday’s estimate of 28,000 acres, most likely reducing it by several thousand. The incident commander is calling it 30 percent contained.

CAL FIRE reports that 25 outbuildings have been destroyed, and there are 15 damaged residences, 5 damaged commercial properties, and 15 damaged outbuildings. They also said the Pacific Coast Highway has “reopened but with closures at Deer Creek Road, Potrero Road, Reino Road, and Yerba Buena Road”.

The resources assigned to the fire include 1,895 personnel, 55 engines, 48 hand crews, 6 air tankers, and 11 helicopters.


(UPDATE at 6:40 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013)

The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) is now estimating that the Springs Fire northwest of Los Angeles has burned 28,000 acres and is 20 percent contained.

At 5:15 p.m. they issued a correction of their earlier announcement. The Pacific Coast Highway has not reopened, due to possible rock slides.

CAL FIRE identified the following evacuations at 6:15 p.m. PT:

  • Mandatory evacuations effective immediately: South Newbury Park area, South of Potrero Road from Reino Road East to 930 West Potrero Road including Hidden Valley Road South.
  • Evacuations remain in effect for Potrero Road to Lewis Road, Yerea Buena Road and Deer Creek Road, Sycamore Canyon, Brrome Ranch and La Jolla Canyon.
  • Evacuations for the Cal State Channel Islands and Dos Vientos area have been lifted and reopened to residents only.

There has been no change in the reported number of structures damaged according to CAL FIRE: 15 damaged residences, 5 damaged commercial properties, and 15 damaged outbuildings.


(UPDATE at 5:10 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013)

According to the Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD), the the Springs fire that started in Camarillo Springs northwest of Los Angeles, “is now being called 18,000 acres and 20% containment”.

The Pacific Coast Highway will reopen to traffic in both directions at 5:00 p.m. Many cross streets, however, will remain closed. Motorists are advised to drive carefully and watch out for emergency vehicles that may still be in the area.

For current information about evacuations, visit the VCFD web site. Additional road closures and evacuations were announced Friday afternoon.


(UPDATE at 2:15 p.m. PT, May 3, 2013)

The Springs fire that started in Camarillo Springs northwest of Los Angeles continued to burn very actively overnight fanned by strong northeast winds. It progressed southwest all the way to the Pacific Ocean, about nine miles from the point of origin.

The map of the fire above shows the location of the fire detected by two different sources:

  1. The red and yellow squares represent the approximate location of heat detected by a satellite hundreds of miles above the Earth at 11:50 a.m. PT, May 3, 2013.
  2. The white line is the fire perimeter drawn by an Infrared Analyst who studied infrared data collected by a U.S. Forest Service fixed wing aircraft at 7 p.m. (PT or MT) Thursday evening, May 2. It should be much more accurate than the satellite data, but it is also about 17 hours older than the satellite information. The fire continued to spread after the fixed wing flight.

The Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) reports that the fire has burned 10,000 acres with 10 percent containment, but that acreage figure is likely to increase substantially when they get a chance for more accurate mapping after sunrise. Firefighters spent the night protecting homes and cutting containment lines with hand tools and bulldozers. The air attack is scheduled to resume in the morning.

The VCFD said 2,000 homes have been threatened and 15 sustained damage, but none were destroyed.

CAL FIRE reports damage to 15 residences, 5 commercial properties, and 15 outbuildings. In addition they said 4,000 residences and 300 commercial properties are threatened.

The Pacific Coast Highway remains closed. For current evacuation information visit the Ventura County Fire Department web site.

The Red Flag Warning is still in effect until 5 p.m. on Friday, but the winds overnight at the nearby Cheeseboro weather station decreased substantially, from  25-30 mph with gusts to 45-50 mph on Thursday, to south-southeast at 8 mph with gusts to 14 mph at 1:38 p.m. PT Friday. The relative humidity remains extremely low, at 3 percent. The weather forecast for Friday calls for 18 mph winds with gusts to 25, decreasing at 11 a.m. to 10 mph with gusts to 16. The wind direction will change at 11 a.m. from northeast to southwest, a 180-degree switch, which could create problems for firefighters.

Resources on the fire include 925 personnel, 90 engines, 20 hand crews, 6 air tankers, and 8 helicopters.

DC-10 air tanker
DC-10 air tanker at Rapid City, April 23, 2013. Photo by Bill Gabbert

One of the DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers has been activated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, CAL FIRE. Rick Hatton, President of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, the company that operates the two DC-10 air tankers, confirmed for us today that it will come on duty tomorrow, May 4. He said most likely the one they will use will be Tanker 910, the aircraft that visited four cities last week on the way back from scheduled maintenance in Michigan.
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