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Saturday, August 13, 2011

FIRE & SMOKE plenty of both!

Last week every one of our regions saw some wildfire activity, thankfully these fires have been quickly suppressed by the efforts of the local fire departments and the Virginia Department of Forestry. By Virginia code the Department of Forestry is the responsible agency for the suppression and management of all wildfires on non-federal lands HOWEVER the VDOF can NOT do this alone and it is because of the collaboration and efforts of the volunteer and paid fire departments all accros the Commonwealth that we all can be proud of our records.

Yesterday Nationally there were 149 new large (over 100 acres) fires 37 of them being in the South.

The following will provide an update on the Lateral West Fire in the Great Dismal Swamp and the wildfires in TX, which continues to deal with the drought and wildfires.

There is fire, actual flames, on this fire and plenty of them. But the big story is the smoke right now. The flames may be having a direct impact on the firefighters, the vegetation and the wildlife within the 110,000 acre swamp but the smoke is impacting hundreds of thousands of people.

And there is PLENTY of SMOKE! There are reports of smoke impacting the public up to 150 miles away.

The following was taken from a story online from the Daily Press

10:53 p.m. EDT, August 12, 2011

 Here's a more detailed look at the fire, its effects, and why it's burning faster than a similar blaze in 2008:

The fire's size
At roughly 5,585 acres, the fire Friday covered an area slightly larger than the city of Williamsburg.

While it's the refuge's largest ever, it's much smaller than wildfires further south and west. For example, more than 300,000 acres are burning at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. Also, nearly 17,000 fires have scorched more than 3.4 million acres in Texas this summer. MORE ON THE TX FIRES LATER

It took about one month for the 2008 Dismal Swamp wildfire to burn 4,884 acres, said Catherine Hibbard, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman. The current fire, which covers much of same area, burned 5,000 acres in a week.

In addition to hot and dry conditions, the current fire is fueled by large amounts of dead and downed trees — remnants of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and the 2008 fire. There are also plenty of grass, brush and peat — decomposing vegetation that can accumulate up to three feet thick, Hibbard said.
"You have the perfect conditions," she said.

Effect on humans
Smoke from wildfires contains particulate matter, which are tiny airborne particles that make it difficult for people with respiratory ailments to breathe.

Communities in Suffolk, Isle of Wight County and further west along Route 460 may be placed under a Code Purple conditions Saturday, state Department of Environmental Quality meteorologists said. Under such a scenario, the air is considered very unhealthy and people are advised to avoid outdoor activity.

Winds are expected to shift Monday with smoke blanketing much of Hampton Roads again, the DEQ said.

 For more please refer to the full story at the link below.... 

Great Dismal Swamp fire sets records

The blaze scorched 5,585 acres, an area slightly larger than Williamsburg, Va.

And now for an updat on the TX fires ....

Texas Fires 2011 Fact Sheet
(All figures are from 15 Nov. 2010 to 12 August 2011, unless noted.)
Days on incident: 269
Personnel currently on incident: 1,079
States that have sent firefighters or other personnel:
48 plus District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands
Total fires in Texas since Nov. 15, 2010: 18,068
Total acres burned in Texas since Nov. 15, 2010: 3,430,734
(exceeds previous record of 2,105,361 acres set in 2005-2006)
Fires in Texas in 2011: 16,062
Fires nationally in 2011: 47,502
Proportion of total national fires in 2011 that have occurred in Texas: 33.8 percent
Acres burned in Texas in 2011: 3,367,880
Acres burned nationally in 2011: 6,332,554
Proportion of total national acres that have burned in Texas: 53 percent
Ten-year U.S. national average acres burned: 4,771,423 acres/year
Four of the 10 largest wildfires in Texas history occurred in April 2011.
Total Aviation Hours: 11,220
Total aviation drops: 32,601
Gallons of fire retardant dropped: 4,208,846
Gallons of water dropped: 16,316,547
Did you know that if you added up all the water and retardant dropped it would fill about 35 Olympic sized swimming pools!
Most flight hours recorded in a single day: 238.39 (20 June 2011)
Most gallons of water and retardant dropped in a single day: 792,393 (20 June 2011)
(Note: All air operation figures are from 21 Dec. 2010, when record-keeping began.)
Texas counties where Texas Forest Service has fought wildfires: 192 of 254
Homes and structures saved: 34,666
Homes saved: 23,438
Homes and structures lost: 2,481
Homes lost: 625
Texas counties with burn bans: 249 of 254
(Exceeds previous record of 221 set in 2006)

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