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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Virginia rotates crews and sends additional resources out of state

Its been 2 weeks since Virginia had sent engines and crew to FL. Plans were to rotate in fresh firefighters, however the fire our folks were assigned to in FL received some really good rains the last two evenings and so they were demobed. BUT!! there were several new fires in NC and our 5 engines and 11 fresh crew will be assigned to one of those NC fires. In addition several single resources are going to other states.

State of emergency in N.C. over wildfires
Three wildfires burning across 68,000 acres prompted Gov. Bev Perdue to declare a state of emergency in 29 eastern counties Saturday
The Pender County fire, which started with a lightning strike a week ago, continued to threaten Holly Ridge to the east and remained only about 15 percent contained.
"There are some homes that are still endangered," N.C. Forestry Service spokesman Brian Haines said. "But the threat is not imminent."

This is the fire/area that a Prevention and Education Team focusing on firewise community outreach and prevention will be working for the next 2 weeks.

As smoke lingers, Georgia forestry officials are planning prevention steps
National program educates about safety and prevention
A Wildfire Prevention and Education Team is headding to SE GA under an agreement that states can share resources. The South East and Mid Atlantic compact is sending fols from OH, VA and GA to Folkston to assist with community outreach and wildfire prevention.
Georgia Forestry Commission spokesman Eric Mosley puts it bluntly.
"Right now, Georgia can't afford any more wildfires," he said.
It has already cost more than $20 million to fight one of the fires, the nearly 300,000-acre Honey Prairie Fire in the Okefenokee Swamp. Georgia will be saddled with much of the cost of fighting a couple of others, the Race Pond Fire along U.S. 1 at the juncture of Brantley, Ware and Charlton counties and the Sweat Farm Again Fire, about 10 miles west of Waycross. Those two alone burned more than 40,000 acres and sent people fleeing from their homes on several occasions.
Those started by lightning or by accident, but some others in the area were started from prohibited trash burning. Regardless of how they start, the stress and cost of fires can be reduced, Mosley said.

Oklahoma Wildfire Forces 1,500 To Evacuate
At least 13 Comanche County homes have already been destroyed and firefighters are battling to prevent further damage.
"Crews worked diligently overnight to fully contain the fire which caused the evacuation of more than 500 homes and destroyed 13," a representative of the Comanche County Emergency Management System said Saturday in a news release.
The wildfire began on Fort Sill's West range in the impact area Thursday afternoon. The fire spread over 4,000 acres on the Fort. It eventually jumped over Highway 49 and headed to Medicine Park late Thursday evening causing numerous evacuations and destroying several homes

Florida, Georgia fires still raging
FOLKSTON, Ga. -- Sparked and spread by dry thunderstorms that are doing more harm than good, wildfires burning in southeast Georgia had communities watching nervously as flames spread overnight to destroy mobile homes in Camden County, a house and barn in Ware County and threaten about 50 homes in neighboring Charlton County.
"It's close enough to make everybody pretty nervous," said John Meyer, emergency management director for Charlton County. "We're doing a lot of praying, that's for sure."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Funerals for Fallen Firefighters Scheduled for Friday and Saturday

Funerals for Fallen Firefighters Scheduled for Friday and Saturday

Families and Friends Plan to Celebrate the Lives and Mourn the Loss of Two Firefighters
of the Division of Forestry

Tallahassee, FLThe families of Josh Burch and Brett Fulton announced funeral arrangements today for their loved ones. Burch and Fulton were firefighters with Division of Forestry who lost their lives Monday while fighting the Blue Ribbon Fire in Hamilton County.

Funeral arrangements and graveside services for Josh Burch are scheduled for Friday, June 24.

Funeral for Josh Burch
Friday, June 24 at 10:00 a.m.
Christ Central Ministries Church
217 S.W. Dyal Road
Lake City, Florida
(386) 755-2525

Funeral for Brett Fulton
Saturday, June 25, at 10:00 a.m.
Christ Central Ministries Church
217 S.W. Dyal Road
Lake City, Florida
(386) 755-2525

The Division of Forestry is accepting letters of condolence on behalf of the families of Burch and Fulton. Please mail correspondence to:

Family of Josh Burch or Family of Brett Fulton
c/o Director Jim Karels, Division of Forestry
3125 Conner Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1650

Memorial Fund Information

A special Memorial Fund has been set up for Ranger Joshua Burch and Ranger Brett Fulton at FLAG Credit Union, 3115 Conner Boulevard, Tallahassee, Florida 32311-3813, telephone 850-488-6781, toll free 1-800-458-3524.

To make a donation to the Memorial Fund, FLAG members can use fund transfers, or you may call FLAG and use your debit card, or mail donations directly to FLAG.  You may also mail donation checks to: Florida Division of Forestry, Director Jim Karels, c/o Joshua Burch Memorial Fund or Brett Fulton Memorial Fund, 3125 Conner Boulevard, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1650, and these will be deposited in the Memorial Fund for you.  If you are sending a check, please make the check out to: Memorial Fund for Joshua Burch or Memorial Fund for Brett Fulton.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important matter.

Jim Karels, Florida State Forester

A Tragic Loss in Florida and Wildfires in several states, let’s look at FL and NC

 Firefighters everywhere morn the loss of 2 Floridia Division of Forestry Employees.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Two Florida forest rangers were killed when a small, smoldering wildfire flared up and trapped them, state officials said Tuesday. Two comrades trying to rescue them also were injured.
It's the first time since 2000 that a forestry division employee has died fighting a wildfire. The rangers were plowing with bulldozers Monday to contain a 12-acre blaze on the Georgia line that's among 400 wildfires currently burning. The Blue Ribbon Fire about 85 miles northeast of Tallahassee had previously been declared contained, but it flared back up.
"The weather can change in Florida very quickly and that's what we experienced," said state forestry director Jim Karels.
Forestry officials and the local sheriff's office are investigating exactly how the fire killed 31-year-old Josh Burch of Lake City and 52-year-old Brett Fulton of White Springs, authorities said.
The Division of Forestry's last fatality in the line of duty came in 2000 when a helicopter pilot crashed after dumping water on a blaze near Fort Myers. The last time a ranger or firefighter died battling a wildfire on the ground was 1985.
Two other rangers, Robert Marvin and Stephen Carpenter, suffered smoke- and heat-related injuries in a rescue attempt Monday. They were treated and released.

Karels called their rescue effort "very heroic" but said they had to turn back because of tremendous heat and smoke. The Blue Ribbon Fire, which had been burning since June 16, was later contained.
Both of the deceased rangers were married. Fulton had two grown children and Burch had two sons, ages 4 and 5, said Agriculture Department spokesman Sterling Ivey. Burch had been with the department's Division of Forestry for ten years and Fulton for 12 years.
"They don't do it for the money," Karels said. "They love the job. They do it to serve the citizens."
Rain forecast for Wednesday could aid firefighters around the state, though Karels cautions that accompanying lightning could create sparks before trees and underbrush become damp enough to resist burning.
He said Florida is running a rainfall deficit this year, and temperatures of up to 104 degrees have made some areas very dry. Already, 2011 is the state's 11th-worst year on record for wildfires — with more than 3,600 blazes burning over 190,000 acres. Florida firefighters have been facing an average of more than 31 new wildfires every day.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam met with the families of the rangers who died.
"We can rebuild the structures and restore the land, but the lives of these two heroes can never be replaced," Putnam said in a statement.

Although we cannot be there physically we can honor those who gave their life in the line of duty with a moment of silence.

A Sea Of Wildfires In 2011.

A sustained ("exceptional") drought across the south, coupled with low humidity levels and gusty winds (and a few random cloud to ground lightning strikes) has ignited an unusual number of wildfires for so early in the season. NOAA has the latest: "Wildfires have plagued much of the Southern U.S. in 2011. The data shown here plots the locations of all wildfires detected by sensors aboard the NOAA AVHRR and GOES Imager, and NASA MODIS satellite sensors over the entire year-to-date. Each red point is one fire - and there are thousands of them plotted here. The data shows over 346,000 fires - though that is an overestimate since different satellites may double-count the same fire "target," but some may not see any at all. NCDC has tallied the number of U.S. wildfires at 33,109, but this number relies on human observations on the ground, which is probably an underestimate. The Okefenokee Swamp fire near the Florida-Georgia border, along with the Wallows fire in eastern Arizona are clearly visible as large red areas. The Okefenokee has been burning for months, and the Wallows is now the largest in Arizona history. Persistent droughts and high winds throughout much of the Southwest have created conditions ideal for wildfires during much of the winter and spring of 2011. Many of the fires in Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska are also drought-induced. The large fire signatures south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida are agricultural in nature."

The Drought/Heatwave of '11. Here are some amazing statistics about the expanding heat wave gripping much of the south.
Last "below average" day in the temperature department:

·         Memphis: May 27
·         Houston: May 18
·         San Antonio: May 16
·         Atlanta: May 19
·         Savannah: May 19
·         Mobile: May 19

The 95 or above club:
  • Houston, Texas: Through Thursday, 21 of the last 23 days have been 95 degrees or higher.
  • Dallas, Texas: Through Thursday, 17 of the last 21 days have been 95 degrees or higher.
  • Shreveport, La.: Thursday was the 16th day in a row with 95+ degree heat.

A month worth of 90s already:
  • Atlanta, Ga.: Typically averages 9 to 10 days during June with 90-degree temps. June 2011 tally: 15
  • Charlotte, N.C.: Typically averages 8 to 9 days during June with 90-degree temps. June 2011 tally: 11
  • Birmingham: Typically averages 11 days during June with 90-degree temps. June 2011 tally: 16

Largest "Exceptional Drought" Area On Record. Summer heat usually peaks in August - it's unusual, almost unprecedented, to have such a huge amount of the USA experiencing severe/exceptional drought conditions in mid June. More details from The Weather Channel: "If it feels like your lawn is ready to shrivel up and blow away, you may not be wrong. According to the new drought monitor, 9% of the continental U.S. is in exceptional drought which is the worst drought level possible. This is the largest area of excpetional drought on record!
Drought Statistics

--281,000+ square miles in drought
--An area equal to the 13 Northeast states and Washington D.C.
--7.54% of U.S. (including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) in "exceptional drought"

"This is part of a remarkable meteorological 'haves and have-nots' story," says The Weather Channel Expert Stu Ostro. "(You have) record flooding and exceptional drought, and those two opposites occurring in close proximity to each other."
For the past few months, Texas and the Southwest was the main drought region."

June 23, 2011

Southern Area Preparedness Level: 5

While there are wildfires burning in several states and the epicenter for activity seems to change as the weather changes, one day it’s AZ then West TX then FL, back to west TX and then to East TX  and now NC. The fires in NC might not be getting the big news coverage that others are but they are significant in their own right. The Forestry Department in NC is doing an outstanding job as their resources are being stretched to the limit. The “new” fire in NC (Juniper Road) went from a few thousand this morning to over 18,000 acres in one very long day.

Located about 10 miles from the coast due west of Sneeds Ferry.

Who said if it's green it WON'T burn ?

Smoke from the NC fire are impacting folks in VA. The VDOF has taken several calls from concerned citizens and govt officials.

The Juniper Road Fire in Pender County, which has burned more than 18,200 acres, prompted some voluntary evacuations of homes west of U.S. Highway 17 between the Onslow County line and Sloop Point Loop Road. A shelter was opened at Topsail Elementary School at 17385 U.S. Highway 17 in Hampstead. 
Name: Juniper Road Fire
Location: Pender County.
Size: 4,800 acres
Containment: 0%
Number of Personnel Assigned: 36
Responding Agencies:NCDF; National Weather Service; Pender County Sheriff Department; The Nature Conservancy
Summary: Transition will be taking place tonight and tomorrow with a NC Type II Incident Management Team. Pre-suppression lines and contingency points are being established.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wallow Wildfire in AZ Nations LARGEST at 519,319 acres

Do you know just how big 519,319 acres is?
If you had a plot of land a football field wide (100 yards) it would go from San Fransico to New York        5 times.

Strong southwest winds have caused the Wallow Fire to breach containment lines along US 180, on the east side of the fire. The fire is burning toward Luna, New Mexico.
Power has been interrupted in the towns of Nutrioso, Alpine and The Blue, AZ. and Luna and Reserve, N.M. for further information see the Navopache Electric Cooperative web site.
 Planned Activity Today .....
Zone 1- Continue point protection and mop-up and re-hab. Zone 2- Structure protection and constructing and securing control lines in Branch VI. Continue securing lines and burning out from Strayhorse down to Blue River. Patrol for and attack any spot fires found across the Blue River. Zone 3- Check fire spread south in Branch XII and mop-up and patrol in other branches.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is scheduled to visit Springerville tomorrow, with visits to the Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Supervisors Office and the Zone 1 ICP. IHC Crews remain a critical resource for Southwest Area Command. Acres burned by ownership are as follows: USFS = 478,131 ac. State of Arizona = 4,531 ac. Private = 6,284 ac. San Carlos Indian Reservation = 9,200 ac. Fort Apache Indian reservation = 12,972 ac.
Growth Potential  Extreme
Terrain Difficulty  High
Temperature 72-88 degrees
Humidity 8-9%

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Special update on the Bearing fire in TX

According to a TX PIO “Bad day in TX.  Lots of new fires.  air resources are getting very short.  They need more type 2 tractor plows.  Jim is catching hell on his fire.  Around 4000 acres now.  Lost some homes.  3 communities evacuated. This fire is just south of lufkin as seen on the map below, just one of several in the vacinity.

The Texas Forest Service and numerous volunteer fire departments, including Hudson and Diboll, are out assisting on the Polk/Trinity fire being called the "Bearing Fire," said Karen Stafford, Regional Urban Wildland Interface Coordinator with the Texas Forest Service. Fires get their names typically from a community or street name, Stafford explained.
The Bearing Fire had burned 4,000 acres as of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, although it was first reported at 12:30 p.m. Friday as a two-acre wildfire. As of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the fire was only 20 percent contained, compared to 80 percent contained Friday night, Stafford said.
"Once the winds picked up and the humidity dropped, the conditions were unfavorable. It was like we had everything working against us," she said.
Homes were being evacuated Saturday north of FM 2262 and in the Trevat and Sulphur communities

Incident Overview
This fast moving fire is burning in multiple aged pine plantations. Hunting camps have been threatened and impacted.

Significant Events  Resources redeployed from direct attack to defensive posture/structure protection.

Basic Information
Date of Origin Friday June 17th, 2011 approx. 12:38 PM
Location Vicinity town of Carmona, Texas
Planned Actions Structure protection.
Growth Potential
Terrain Difficulty
Current Weather
Wind Conditions 25 mph SW
Temperature 105 degrees
Humidity 29%

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today were taking a look at Georgia. And How Do Wildfires Get Named?

The following are the major fires currently burning in Georgia, Virginia resources are assigned to the Honey Prairie Complex. The definition of Complex: Two or more individual incidents located in the same general area which are assigned to a single incident commander or unified command.

Honey Prairie Complex (Okefenokee NWR) 16,487 acres new growth reported. 5 miles NE of Fargo, GA. The fire is being managed by the SA Type 1 Red Team (Wilder) under unified command with Florida Department of Forestry, Georgia Forestry Commission, and USFW. Transition with SA Type 1 Blue Team (Quesinberry) began at 0800 today, June 16th. Comprised of 9 fires. Numerous hot spots. Active burning and high rates of spread in Divisions L, M, and J. New start in Division N for approximately 1,600 acres. Burnout operations in Division M are ongoing. Continue to control, hold and mop-up. 251 residences, 10 commercial properties, and 347 outbuildings threatened. 49% contained.

Racepond (Georgia Forestry Commission) 1,350 acres new growth reported. 10 miles SSE of Waycross, GA. The fire is being managed by a Georgia Forestry Commission Type 3 IMT. Burning in southern rough. Continue to improve lines and mop-up. 90% contained.

Sweat Farm Again (Georgia Forestry Commission) 2,100 acres. 12 miles West of Waycross, GA. Active fire behavior in southern rough with crowning and 1-mile spotting. Made wind-driven runs and threatened local population. 20 residences threatened. 1 residence destroyed. Continue control lines. 20% contained.

Waverly (Georgia Forestry Commission) 600 acres. 3 miles East of Waverly, GA. Burning in southern rough. ½ mile spotting with crown fire yesterday. 10 residences threatened, 2 destroyed. 90% contained.

Rayonier Pasture (Georgia Forestry Commission) 450 acres. 15 miles South of Jesup, GA. Burning in southern rough. Spotting and running. Continue to improve lines and mop-up. 95% contained.

Officials directing operations have decided to let the fire burn inside the swamp and contain it once it reached the boundaries of the 430,000-acre refuge. But at times the fire taxed that strategy riding southerly winds into places officials didn’t want it to go.
Below is a map showing the progression of the Honey Prairie fire:

Honey Prairie: 193,962 acres, 49% contained. Fire activity was high on the Honey Prairie yesterday, on all fronts as the afternoon sea breeze arrived, changing wind directions and speeds. All fire lines held along the east side of the Honey Prairie, as line construction and reinforcement continued with bulldozers and heavy equipment. Strategic firing operations took place in the Kingfisher Landing area, along the Swamp Edge Break. Strategic firing operations also took place ahead of the flanking edges of the fire as needed. The fire along the northeast Swamp Edge Break, called the Sawfly Fire, continued to burn south into the Refuge. In the southwest portion of the fire, fire activity became extreme as the fire jumped the line in the Sapp Prairie area, moving towards the west. The fire stalled as it reached the gum swamp east of Turkey Nest. Line construction continued in preparation for strategic firing operations as necessary. Areas of reburn occurred off Highway 177 in the vicinity of Harpers Hammock, causing several spot fires west of the highway. Crews worked to construct lines around the spots as the fires emerged. Langdale and Superior Pine assisted throughout the evening and night to control the fires.
Below are a few pictures from the Honey Paririe Wildfire.

Fom local landmarks, mostly. The Paxton Paxton Fire started near the top of Paxton Peak, the Purgatory Fire started and burned most of Purgatory Mountain, the Gone Fishing Fire was named by a firefighter who was called to work from a planned day of fishing. In general, naming rights go to the group or individual that makes the "initial attack" on a fire. The commander on the scene often uses a nearby geographical feature to describe the fire, but is not bound by any official rules..
A few years ago firefighters named a Pacific Northwest blaze the Sour Biscuit fire because it was near Sourdough Gulch and Biscuit Creek. It later became part of the much larger Florence fire, which started near the Florence Creek. But authorities backtracked when the mayor of Florence—an unrelated town 100 miles away—complained about the bad publicity. The Florence fire became the Biscuit fire.

One of the worst wildfire disasters in U.S. history, a 1994 blaze that killed 14 firefighters, has become known as the Storm King fire after the mountain where the crew died. Officially, the blaze was known as the South Canyon fire.

 Smokey Bear wants to thank ALL firefighters EVERYWHERE for keeping up the fight and working so very hard under such difficult conditions to protect us and our natural resources.
Please Stay Safe, well do our part and not let any more wildfires start due to human carelesness.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today It's TEXAS

A couple of very interesting facts from TFS PIO's this morning.

To many times we focus on the negatives, look at these numbers for structures SAVED. A BIG THANKS goes out to all those firefighters no matter what logo they have on their uniform for the hard work and dedication it took and takes. You all are amazing!

# of homes saved: 14,011
# of other structures saved: 8,936
Total # saved: 22,947

# of homes lost: 474
# of other structures lost: 1,368
Total # lost: 1,842

# of aviation drops to date: 18,755
# of gallons of water dropped: 8,632,406
# of gallons of fire retardant dropped: 2,725,960

(note: all air operation figures are from Dec. 21, 2011, when record-keeping began)
LOTS of water to bad mother nature is not helping add to the numbers. So just how much is 11.3 million gallons.

Do you remember watching Michael Fred Phelps (bet you didn't know his middle name was Fred) win all those gold medals? Well the olympic size swimming pools hold about 600,000 gallons so that means that so far TFS has dropped a tad over 19 olympic size swimming pools worth of water and retardant.

Virginia has several what is referred to as single resources in Texas. A single resource (usually people) is individuals with expertise in specific areas that supports either directly or indirectly the suppression efforts.
There is also a Wildfire Prevention and Education Team being deployed to East Texas this weekend. No Virginia folks are assigned to this team, but some assistance may be provided remotely.  Some might say it’s a bit late for prevention with all the wildfires currently burning. However now is a very good time for this important work! Any wildfire that can be prevented will only reduce the stress and pressure on resources assigned to current wildfires. Also that one fire prevented just might have been that killer fire or one that burned up numerous homes, businesses, other properties and changed the lives of many Texans.

Below is a list of the more notable wildfires currently burning in Texas.
Additional information can be found at

Name of Fire and Acres
Springer Ranch1,200
Encinitos 3,200
S Curve 2,000
Burdett 1,502
Dos Amigos 19,391 
Canyon 16,803
Lamar 250
Bolt 1,300
Tejano Canyon  12,311

A few quotes from local papers out of TX this morning ...

It's adding up to a potential nightmare scenario, fire experts say.
"It's scary for us what the late-summer conditions could look like," Spencer said. "Our winter-spring fire season has basically merged with our late-summer season.
"2011 as it stands is a record year, and it stands to be even more so. There's no relief in sight -- it's only going to get worse."
Wildfire potential will be very high or extreme in areas where very dry or partially dormant vegetation exists due to the drought. A red flag warning is in effect today for far western Oklahoma and adjacent parts of north Texas.

PALO PINTO, Texas - The drought and the heat have fires burning in Palo Pinto County again. Residents there are still recovering from the catastrophic wildfires that scorched much of the county less than two months ago.
The TFS said the largest fire was started by a campfire. It has burned about 1,900 acres and destroyed two vacant homes. The second fire ignited by lightening has burned at least 200 acres.


Everything is big in TX even the snags. OK you guys/gals out west they might not be as big as yours!!

Lighting it from one hand and fighting it with the other.

Who said rock wont burn! Sure looks that way, I guess its so dry the rocks will burn in TX.

Man o man look how dry the fuels are!!!!

 Fire behavior , a bit extream wouldn't you say!

 Where there is moke there is usually some sort of aircraft trying to slow down the fire.
Big aircraft and little aircraft. Thanks RR