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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

News out of TX and yes Virginia the Dismal Swamp Fire is still burning!

Before I talk about a Texas fire here is a bit of an update on the Dismal Swamp Fire.
oh yea the video clips later on in this post might take a bit to load but are well worth the wait.

Recent thunder storm brought very little rain and less relief to those batteling the Lateral West Fire. The fire continued burning actively overnight on the south and west flanks.
With winds shifting to the west today, the fire is expected to continue threatening Dismal Swamp State Park. Crews will continue to reinforce the bulldozer line already completed in the northwest corner of the park, near the intersection of Corapeake and Forest Line Ditches.
As the fire continues to burn through roots under the peat, falling trees remain a significant hazard for firefighters.
Firefighters will continue to pursue the strategy of flooding the swamp to put out the fire. As Incident Commander Mike Quesinberry put it, "The primary goal for us is to get these ditches completely filled." Once water has been pumped from Lake Drummond into the ditches, it can then be pumped from the ditches into the burning peat.

This fire whorl is but just one of the indicators of the extreme fire behavior which is occurring on the fire. This picture also shows the excessive fuel build-up from the 2008 fire. The current fire has all but burned completely through the same foot=print of the 2008 fire and is continuing to expand. Early on an Information Officer who has been on fires all across this country quoted “I’ve never seen a smoke column like this, it was truly amazing. Must have gone up 30,000 feet”.

 Now to TX.

The Horseshoe fire in Lender Texas is but yet another reminder that fires don’t have to be huge and don’t have to be burning in heavily timbered areas to be devastating. Any home that burns is a tradgey, a million dollar home or a trailer they are all the same in the eyes of the firefighter. What makes a difference to the firefighters is weather a home has defensible space or not, do they have “a chance” to save the structure or are the fire conditions and the situation to dangerous.
This fire was small, only 30 acres but it was in a very bad location. It was within the small community of Leander, over 200 homes were impacted with 15 being destroyed.

This was classified as a grass fire, there were some wooded areas but for the most part the fast moving burned in extremely dry fine fuels creating very dangerous conditions. Homes and structures can be re-built lives cannot and this fire could have been deadly, 1 resident was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and 4 firefighters treated for heat exhaustion.

The Texas Forest Service and 14 fire departments along with air tankers and helicopters responded and are credited with saving lives and the nearly 190 additional homes within the community.

TX is in the midst of unprecedented drought, climate data shows the Lone Star State is in its driest ten-month period EVER. Check out this very cool video clip showing the KBDI over the last 30 months in Texas.

Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI)

Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is an index used to determining forest fire potential. The drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of 8-inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion.
The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions.

Many places are curerently recording indecies of over 700....THATS dry!!!!

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