Testing a new fire model during a crowning prescribed fire

Above: Screenshot from the NASA video below about fire spread model research during a prescribed fire in Utah, June, 2019.

U.S. Forest Service scientists and others with the interagency Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment, or FASMEE, teamed up with the Fishlake National Forest to study a  prescribed fire from start to finish.

After months of planning and preparation, fire crews ignited more than 2,000 acres of Utah forest in an effort to consume living upper canopy vegetation and initiate growth of new vegetation. This June 2019 prescribed fire was designed to restore aspen ecosystems by removing conifer trees and stimulating the regrowth of aspen.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest Research Station and Rocky Mountain Research Station, as well as other FASMEE participants, saw the fire as a unique opportunity for study.

During the event a fire model used for forecasting where and how a fire will move was put to the test. Adam Kochanski of the University of Utah used the opportunity to test the fire model known WRF-SFIRE.

WRF-SFIRE is a collaborative effort of NASA-funded teams from CU Denver, University of Utah, and Colorado State University. The project is led by Jan Mandel, Adam Kochanski and Kyle Hilburn.

The video below provides more details about the project and the test of the new fire model.

research fire model wildfire
Screenshot from the NASA video.

Couple cited for escaped campfire that started Gun Range Fire in Utah

Map Gun Range Fire
Map showing the approximate location of the Gun Range Fire using heat data from a satellite at 4:24 a.m. MDT August 30, 2019. The red line is the estimated perimeter.

A Utah couple has been cited by the U.S. Forest Service for having a campfire that escaped and started what became the 365-acre Gun Range Fire near Bountiful, Utah on August 30, 2019. The fire was named after the nearby Lions Club gun range.

KSL is reporting that the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed that Ashlyn Nelson and Jeremy Flores were issued a ticket for leaving a campfire without fully extinguishing it. Campfires, per se, were not illegal, but allowing it to escape and ignite a wildfire, of course, is.

The fire forced the evacuation of 400 homes and was fought by multiple hotshot crews, air tankers, and helicopters in addition to a large number of local firefighting resources.

Other fires that have occurred recently in the greater Salt Lake City area since July 17, 2019:

fires salt lake city area utah
The map shows the locations of some of the wildfires that occurred in the greater Salt Lake City area between July 17 and September 16, 2019.

Francis Fire requiring evacuations in Davis County, Utah

The fire is between Salt Lake City and Ogden

Francis Fire Utah

(Updated at 11:16 a.m. MDT Sept. 17, 2019)

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday the size of the Francis Fire between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah was estimated at 100 to 200 acres but Tuesday morning fire officials said it spread since then to 550 acres. (Later in the morning that was changed to 365 acres.)

The  weather overnight was conducive to additional fire growth, with the relative humidity remaining in the 20s until it began rising after 2 a.m. eventually topping out at 82 percent at 7 a.m. when 0.03 inches of precipitation was measured at the BEUU1 weather station near Ogden. The overnight wind speed was 3 to 8 mph with gusts up to 20 mph.

In a briefing Tuesday morning fire officials said the cause of the fire was lighting that occurred a week ago.


Below is a video that apparently was shot shortly after the fire began spreading near Main Street and Haight Creek Drive.

It is not common for a lightning strike to ignite light to medium fuels, such as grass or brush as seen in the video above, and for it to smolder unreported for a week near a heavily populated area before growing into a large wildfire. But it is possible that investigators found evidence at the point of origin indicating a lightning strike and lightning occurrence data confirmed a ground strike at that location.

The mandatory evacuations ordered Monday were lifted at 10 p.m. Monday.


(Originally published at 6:47 p.m. MDT September 16, 2019)

A vegetation fire that was reported around 3 p.m. MDT Monday has spread across a slope above Fruit Heights between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. Structures have been threatened and the Davis County Sheriff’s Office (@DavisCountySO) has ordered evacuations in some areas. (see map below)

At 6:30 p.m. @UtahWildfire, a Twitter account associated with a government agency, reported that the Francis Fire had burned 100 to 200 acres. A strong wind has been pushing it across the slopes and caused spotting in the grass  and oak brush.

In addition to the 17 fire engines working the fire, the aircraft assigned include an MD-87, a BAe-146 (Tanker 168), and four helicopters plus an air attack ship and lead plane. Below we have one video from Twitter of an air tanker drop, and more are on Fire Aviation.


There have been many fires in the greater Salt Lake City area in the last one to two months. They all have a Utah tag on Wildfire Today.

Francis Fire Utah map
Map showing the approximate location of the Francis Fire at 5 p.m. MDT September 16, 2019.

Update on the Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment

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Manning Creek burn on June 20, 2019. (Photo by Roger Ottmar)

The Fire and Smoke Model Experiment (FASMEE) is a large, multi-agency effort funded by the Joint Fire Science Program and the U.S. Forest Service to identify and collect critical fuel, fire behavior, and other measurements that will be used to advance scientific understanding as well as operational and research modeling capabilities associated with wildland fire. The goal is to allow managers to increase the use of wildfire and prescribed fire.

On June 20, 2019, FASMEE completed data collection on Manning Creek, the first of two large, operational stand-replacement burns in a dense mixed conifer-aspen forest as part of FASMEE’s Phase 2 Southwest Campaign (Phase 1 was a planning phase and other campaigns are possible). The burn was conducted by the Richfield Ranger District located on the Fishlake National Forest in Utah. Over 40 scientists participated using ground sampling methods, drones carrying state of the art imagery and air quality sampling instrumentation, fire hardened video and still cameras, and LiDAR to collect a suite of data including fuel loading, fuel consumption, fire behavior, plume dynamics, and smoke data. Readers can view video and photographic imagery captured during the Manning Creek fire at https://fasmee.net/study-sites/manning-creek

Richfield Ranger District personnel will conduct a second stand replacement research fire this fall near Annabella Reservoir with over 120 scientists participating. In addition to the suite of instruments and sampling techniques deployed during the first research burn, two fixed wing aircraft including NASA/NOAA’s FIREX-AQ DC8 will be sampling plume smoke and heat release. Additional LiDAR and radar units have been acquired to better identify plume dynamics, with cameras and thermocouples added within the fire perimeter to capture data on soil heating and aspen regeneration.

fire Manning Creek burn
Manning Creek burn on June 20, 2019. (Photo by Brett Butler)
drone fire Manning Creek burn
A wildland firefighter flies a drone over the Manning Creek burn on June 20, 2019. (Photo by Adam Watts)

 

Evacuations lifted at Gun Range Fire

The fire burned 365 acres at Bountiful and Centerville, Utah August 30

Gun Range Fire
The Gun Range Fire started August 30, 2019 in a wildland-urban interface. Photo provided by Utah Fire Info.

The last of the evacuation orders were lifted Saturday morning by the Bountiful Police Department for the areas near the Gun Range Fire that burned 365 acres near Bountiful and Centerville, Utah Friday.

Officials with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest said the fire started from an abandoned campfire believed to have originated above the Lions Gun Range in Bountiful. Authorities are searching for two individuals in a small SUV.

The photo above shows that the fire, which destroyed three homes, occurred in a wildland-urban interface. It appears that firefighters succeeded in keeping that number lower than it could have been.


More information about the Gun Range Fire at Bountiful.

Fire at Bountiful Utah forces hundreds to evacuate

The Gun Range Fire was reported at about 1 a.m. on Friday

Gun Range Fire
Gun Range Fire. Photo by Davis County Sheriff Search and Rescue.

(Originally published at 11:59 a.m. MDT August 30, 2019)

A fire that started after midnight Friday east of Bountiful and Centerville, Utah forced the evacuation of 400 homes. The blaze was named Gun Range Fire because it is near the Lions Gun Range in Bountiful. Most wildfires are named after the location where they started.

Map Gun Range Fire
Map of the Gun Range Fire based on heat data from a satellite at 4:24 a.m. MDT August 30, 2019. The red line is the approximate perimeter.

By 10 a.m. evacuations in Centerville had been lifted but the order in Bountiful was still in effect. Fire officials estimated the fire had burned 150 to 300 acres, destroyed three homes, and damaged five others. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

NWS Gun Range Fire

Kim Osborn, the public information officer for the Northern Utah Interagency Fire Center said several hotshot crews, air tankers, and helicopters are on the scene.

Other fires that have occurred recently in that general part of Utah include the 6,451-acre Goose Point Fire, the 7,900-acre Shelter Pass Fire, the 450-acre Alaska Fire, and the 167-acre Round Peak Fire  — all since July 17, 2019.