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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wildfires increasing in numbers, size and complexity

ATLANTA (AP) — Officials are concerned wind from approaching storms could drive embers from three southeastern Georgia wildfires into new areas. A blaze in Clinch County has burned 16,000 acres, while another in Bacon and Ware counties has consumed around 13,600 acres. A smaller fire in Long County has burned about 4,000 acres and three homes.

Officials find it’s hard to just let wildfires burn
By Bruce Finley  |  The Denver Post

For years, federal land managers have aimed at letting wildfires burn to boost forest health — and save taxpayers some of the billions the government spends dousing nearly every blaze.
“We’re looking for opportunities to let fire play its natural role in the landscape,” regional U.S. Forest Service chief Rick Cables said last week.
But Colorado’s growing population and energy industry near forests, combined with surging numbers of wildfires, is making a let-it-burn approach increasingly difficult.
Twenty-seven wildfires have threatened the northern Front Range suburbs this month, nine times the 15-year March average of three.
Rather than try to let some wildfires burn to stimulate forests and grasslands, federal officials have moved into traditional suppression, mobilizing ground crews early and pushing to preposition slurry bombers on runways.
Although this article is from Colorado this is the situation all across the US.
I recently attended a meeting and heard a communications expert with the NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group) say that everyone needs to recognize that there are only 2 types of fires, a prescribed fire or a wildfire, period. We should NOT try and turn a wildfire into a prescribed fire and if a prescribed fire threatens to get beyond planned control lines or its behavior is exceeding planned objectives or people and homes are threatened it should be considered a wildfire and treated as such and suppressed. Everyone recognizes that even the worst of wildfires MAY HAVE some environmental benefits but we can no longer send mixed messages especially as the flames, smoke and embers are in the air.

A woods fire seen from the Spring Hill Plantation subdivision in North Carolina. Firefighters battled the blaze near Loblolly Avenue in Little River on Wednesday.

Read more:

Fires spread across Baxter County
"Arkansas Forestry Commission crews are working to contain six wildfires, including two in Madison County, one in Lafayette County, two in Columbia County and one in Ashley County," said commission spokeswoman Christina Fowler.
"Acreage estimates will not be available until tomorrow afternoon," Fowler said. "There have been no reports of structures damaged or injuries."
Fanned by strong winds, a fire consumes an outbuilding Wednesday on Baxter County Road 69. No injuries were reported in connection with the fire, but the outbuilding was a complete loss. Firefighters were kept busy for several hours as high winds whipped the fire sending embers across CR 69 and igniting a grass fire. / Bulletin Photo by Kevin Pieper

Officials suspect wildfires are arson
LOXLEY, Alabama (WALA) - The Alabama Forestry Commission wants to know who is setting wildfires in south Baldwin County.
Officials said 14 fires have been set in the past eight days. They have reason to believe someone is responsible, simply because of the sheer number of fires in a short period of time and also because they were set in the middle of nowhere.

Last week the Today Show and Fox News among others ran a story out of a research facility based in Richburg , SC. This facility is owned by the Institute for Business and Home Safety and they started an ember storm which then ignited a home that was designed with various construction materials. This was to teach that often it is the embers that ignite the home, not the "wall of flames" and that the homeowner can do several things to reduce the chance of their home igniting - they can be Firewise!
It might be due to the story at the link above or not? But there sure seems to be more mentioning of “Embers” in news stories recently??

PLEASE do your part and dont let a wildfire start. If you live in an area that is experencing wildfires or it is just a bit to dry and windy DO NOT BURN anything PLEASE WAIT till you get some rain and forestry officials indicate it is safe to have outdoor burning.

PS thought you might find this interesting.
Here in the east and for the most part the entire mainland US fires are either started by something human in cause or by lightning. Lightning is the only non-human cause of wildfires EXCEPT in places like Hawaii.
This picture is of a remote wildfire touched off by the eruption of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, which has burned some 2,000 acres of national park land.

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