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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rain on the Tinker Mountain Fire

Most of the Tinker Mountain Wildfire received 2 to 2 1/3 inches of rain. This was great news, crews will hopefully complete a bit of mop-up and call this one done.
Here are a few pictures that were taken prior to the rain. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tinker Mountain Wildfire

News Release
For Immediate Release                                                                       July 25, 2011
Contact: VDOF Salem Office            540-387-5461

Tinker Mountain Wildfire

A wildfire was reported to the Virginia Department of Forestry on Sunday and is currently burning in very rough and difficult areas to access. It is located near Troutville in Botetourt County near exit 151 off  I-81 and is burning on private land, County land and National Park Service (Appalachian Trail) lands.

The wildfire is currently 12 acres in size but has the potential to get larger due to the terrain, access, weather and dry conditions. Very little rain fell in the area over the weekend, and no rain at the fire. With temperatures in the 90’s it is very demanding on the firefighters. “This fire is in a very steep and rocky area and is being fought with hand crews and a few engines.” said Jon Willoughby, an information officer with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) on the fire. Summit Helicopters of Cloverdale is assisting with aerial recon and water drops.

There are 36 firefighters on scene, including those from the Virginia Department of Forestry, Botetourt County, the National Park Service, the US Forest Service and an inmate crew from Patrick County Corrections facility under the direction of the VDOF. Firefighter safety is the number 1 priority especially with the heat and rough mountainous conditions. There is only one structure currently threatened and no evacuations are being called for at this time. The cause of the wildfire is under investigation.

This fire will be very visible by travelers on Interstate I-81, RT. 11 and US 220. The public is being asked to stay away from the area and give the responding agencies “room to respond” to the fire. “Many narrow roads leading to the fire will become quickly clogged by sightseers making it more difficult to get people and equipment to the fire” quoted Jason Ferguson, Botetourt County Emergency Operations Coordinator.

The Appalachian Trail will be closed in the vicinity until further notice. Additional information will be provided to the media as it becomes available.

The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians.  Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide service to citizens of the Commonwealth.  VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.

With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 144,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide more than $27.5 Billion annually in benefits to the Commonwealth. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wildfire activity moves into the Gulf States Region

Arkansas maybe the next state were hering from about the increased wildfire activity????

Air Tankers Arrive Early to Help With Wildfires


Air Tankers Arrive Early to Help With Wildfires
Due to high temperatures and drought conditions, the Arkansas Forestry Commission is bringing air tankers in a week early to help fight wildfires.
Air tankers are planes that drop hundreds of gallons of water to help slow the procession of fires.
Crews have put out over 364 wildfires across the state since the beginning of June.
Southern and Western Arkansas has seen the most fire activity, but with continued extreme weather, activity has increased in Central Arkansas as well.
Christina Fowler of the Forestry Commission says the tankers are based out of Hot Springs Airport.
"We currently have one on standby today, and then two planes will be in the state from Saturday until towards the end of September is what they're contracted to be here. However, we do have the capabilities to extend that contract if the fire season doesn't improve."
Fowler also went on to say the most important thing you can do to help prevent wildfires is to follow your local burn ban.
42 Arkansas counties are currently under burn ban.

Friday, July 22, 2011


While fires continue to burn in the South and SE, other parts of the country are begining to experience an increase in activity. UT,WY,SD and ID as well as western Canada all have active wildfires. Other areas of the country may soon be dealing with wildfires also. I just read a report where Maine is preparing for the possibility of wildfires as the danger levels increase.

Weekly statistics 7/19/11
Number of new large fires
States currently reporting large fires:
Number of active large fires
Fires managed for multiple objectives (26)
Arizona (1)
California (1)
Georgia (3)
Idaho (1)
New Mexico (4)
North Carolina (2)
Oklahoma (2)
Texas (4)
Wyoming (1)
Acres from active fires
Fires contained since 7/18/11
Year-to-date large fires contained
Year-to-date statistics
2011 (1/1/11 - 7/18/11)
Fires: 41,930
Acres: 5,866,869
I thought I would provide some info on an aspect of wildfires that many dont think about unless you happen to live in an area which this is fairly common. And that is the additional damage caused by wildfires long after the fire and smoke is gone.

Flooding and mud slides are a real problem in some parts of the country (thankfully not so much here in VA)
Although the picture below is a rather extream example, this is an amazing aspect of wildfire damage and recovery. My first experience was when I was on an assignment in Colorado when we held a public meeting after the first real rain in an area that was recently burned. One lady got up and spoke about how thankful she and her family was that the firefighters saved their home from the wildfire BUT they lost everything as the flodding washed away their home. Rain is definately the two edged sword at times.
There are specially trained teams that work with identifying potential areas of concern and make recovery recomendations, they are  the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Teams.
 The BAER program addresses these situations with the goal of protecting life, property, water quality, and deteriorated ecosystems from further damage after the fire is out.
While many wildfires cause little damage to the land and pose few threats to fish, wildlife and people downstream, some fires create situations that require special efforts to prevent further catastrophic damage after the fire. Loss of vegetation exposes soil to erosion; runoff may increase and cause flash flooding; sediments may move downstream and damage houses or fill reservoirs; and put endangered species and community water supplies may be at risk.
Why is flooding after a fire such a big threat? For one thing, flames consume leaf litter and decomposing matter on the ground that normally soak up water. Additionally, after a fire, the soil itself has the potential to become hydrophobic, or water repellant. Plants and trees have numerous protective chemicals with which they coat their leaves to prevent water loss. Many of these substances are similar to wax. Vaporized by the heat from fires, these substances disperse into the air and then congeal over the soil surface when the fire begins to cool. Like the wax on your car, these substances coat the soil, causing water to bead up and run off quickly. In general, the greater the fire intensity and the longer the fire’s residence time, the more hydrophobic the soil becomes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Who said its the start of "fireseason"?

I have been busy lately and did not get a chance to be “blogging” thanks for all of you who kept checking in. I hope you find this posting interesting.
Saw this headline story in the news ….
The National Weather Service says residents will soon forget the cool, wet spring they've been complaining about, because they are forecasting a warm, dry summer for the entire state. This weekend is also bringing the beginning of the wildfire season.
Well I hate to pop this reporters bubble but this weekend much of the south and SE coast is in the thick of an extended fireseason. But one thing the story does do is let us know there will be plenty of work for firefighters and resources for several more months to come. This seemingly never ending fireseason is really taxing people and things made of “iron”.
Thought you would be interested in a few headlines from my location right now.
WAYCROSS, Ga. -- Firefighters battling a wildfire in south Georgia discovered 339 sticks of dynamite, and a U.S. Army bomb squad was called to detonate the explosives.
FOLKSTON, GA -- A Brunswick mower manufacturer is volunteering its equipment and manpower to help protect Ware County buildings as the 267,900-acre Honey Prairie Fire continues spreading through the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The rain that did come a few days ago was welcomed however after a day of hot dry windy GA weather fire activity picked up.

Anyone for a swim?

These cool QR codes were from a story by one of our great reporters who has been doing a great job covering the massive wildfires. Terry Dickson with the 

I hope you all have a GREAT and SAFE 4th