Search This Blog

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An American Hero dies and Wildfires Rage On

Before we talk about Wildfires I would like for us to take a moment and think about a true American Hero that passed away yesterday. Neil Armstrong was an explorer that many of us wished we would one day be. There are only a few pictures that when you see them they not only bring back the moment in time of where you where, what you were doing when it was first viewed. Pictures that need no captions, pictures that we all feel we are part of, pictures that shaped the future. This is one of those pictures.


Wildfire Headlines in today’s newspapers ….

Growing wildfire destroys 84 buildings, threatens 900 others in Northern California

Fast-moving wildfire forces evacuations in Montana

Serbia evacuated thousands of villagers on Saturday and called in the army to help fight wildfires raging through the drought-hit western Balkans.


Yesterday’s info from the National Incident Command Center

Saturday, August 25, 2012 – 0530 MT
National Preparedness Level 4
National Fire Activity
Initial attack activity: Light (151 new fires)
New large fires:  12 (*)
Large fires contained: 10
Uncontained large fires: ** 27
Area Command Teams committed: 1
NIMOs committed: 2
Type 1 IMTs committed: 8
Type 2 IMTs committed: 10
** Uncontained large fires include only fires being managed under a full suppression


Cache Creek, Wallowa-Whitman NF. IMT 2 (Rapp). Forty-one miles northeast of Enterprise, OR. Brush and grass. Running with short-range spotting. Structures threatened.

Chips, Plumas NF. IMT 1 (Opliger). Twenty miles northwest of Quincy, CA. Timber and brush. Moderate fire activity with short-range spotting. Communities threatened. Evacuations in effect.

North Pass, Mendocino NF. IMT 2 (Wakoski). Twenty-five miles northeast of Covelo, CA. Logging slash. Active fire behavior with torching. Structures and communication site threatened. Evacuations and area closures in effect.

Bagley, Shasta-Trinity NF. IMT 2 (Whitcome). Seven miles west of Big Bend, CA. Timber. Active fire behavior with torching and spotting. Structures and high voltage power lines threatened. Creeping and smoldering. Structures threatened.

Trinity Ridge, Boise NF. IMT 1 (Quesinberry). Transfer of command from IMT 1 (Harvey) to IMT 1 (Lund) will occur today. Seven miles northwest of Featherville, ID. Timber. Active fire behavior with group tree torching and spotting. Numerous structures threatened. Evacuations and area closures in effect. 

Halstead, Salmon-Challis NF. NIMO (Houseman). Eighteen miles northwest of Stanley, ID. Timber. Crowning. Numerous structures and power lines threatened. Evacuations in effect. Area closures in effect.

SO MANY WILDFIRES are caused by CARELESSNESS and one such careless actions is leaving a campfire UNATTENDED or FAILING to EXTINGUISH it properly. This is something so easy to do so lets take the extra 10 minuites it takes to make sure your campfire doesn't become a wildfire. PLEASE !
The following is one of the better write-ups I have seen about Campfire Safety...PLEASE read it and put it into action the next time you go camping.

Make sure your campfire doesn't become a wildfire

With Labor Day just around the corner, many individuals and families will be headed to the forest, ocean, mountains or high desert for one last summer camping adventure.

State fire officials are asking those folks to be extremely cautious with their campfires given current conditions. The National Weather Service forecast for the weekend calls for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation across the state.

Campers are reminded that recreational fires are not allowed on many public lands except in approved designated campgrounds.

“Rules/Regulations change every day and vary widely. I would advise people to check before you go and again when you arrive at your camping designation.

Here are some reminders Smokey Bear and Friends to make sure you don’t start a wildfire.


• If you’re in the backcountry, and especially during high-risk times, it’s best to avoid having a campfire altogether. Oftentimes campfires are prohibited above a certain elevation or near certain bodies of water.

• If you must have a fire, follow the Leave No Trace principles:

Make sure to check and follow all regulations. In some areas, regulations change depending on the season because of fire danger.

Use only established fire rings, keep your campfire small and never leave a fire unattended.

Use small pieces of wood gathered only from the ground and never break branches or cut down trees for a campfire.

After a campfire is completely out and cool to touch, and after all the wood has turned to coal, scatter the cool ashes.


• Make sure a campfire is allowed. Check to see if there is a burn ban in your county.

• Find a shady spot away from dry logs, branches, bushes, needles or leaves.

• Make sure there are no overhanging tree branches near the fire.

• Use existing fire rings where it is safe to do so. Don’t build fire rings in roads.

• Keep campfire rings small, and use wood no bigger than the ring.

• Never leave a campfire unattended.

• When leaving, make sure your fire is dead out. Very carefully feel all sticks and charred remains. Feel the coals and ashes. Make sure no roots are smoldering.

• Drown the campfire with water, and stir charred material.

• If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Idaho, California, Hawaii, Washington, Oklahoma, Texas, Spain, Greece, France, and Bulgaria

What does Idaho, California, Hawaii, Washington, Oklahoma, Texas, Spain, Greece, France, and Bulgaria all have in common?
Wildfires, Forest Fires, Range Fires whatever you want to refer to them as! These locations along with many others are experiencing one of the most active "fire seasons" in recent history.
Virginia along with resources from all accross the country are responding to the request for help to many of these locations.


Firefighters across the West on Monday kept battling a summer-long series of raging wildfires, with the latest round sparked mostly by lightning strikes that added to an already torrid mix of dry conditions and gusty winds.

The Trinity Ridge 91,000-acre (38,800-hectare) wildfire in the Boise National Forest closed in from three directions on an Idaho mountain town on Monday as authorities worried about the safety of roughly 30 residents who have refused to evacuate.
The Elmore County Sheriff's Office ordered evacuations over the weekend as thick smoke from the Trinity Ridge Fire posed a health hazard and limited visibility on the single road to Featherville, a popular summertime resort at the foot of the Trinity Mountains on the South Fork Boise River.
"It puts everyone in higher danger. Firefighters will have to worry about the safety of people who are left behind instead of fighting the fire and saving homes," U.S. fire information officer Mary Christensen said.
Fire crews prepared to defend hundreds of homes in Featherville, where second homes and rental cabins cause the summer population to swell to roughly 1,000, as well as structures in the nearby community of Pine.
"We hope those residents will reconsider and get out of there," Christensen said.

A great look at an Air Force tanker making a drop.
 If homeowners prepared their homes and property firefighters as shown in the pictures above and below might be able to devote efforts elsewhere. Removing pinestraw from around the homes and from off the roofs along with moving bags of mulch from up next to the home to a safer location all takes time and lots of folks to accomplish it quickly as the fires are bearing down on them.

Its hard dirty nasty work. A big thanks to those who answer the call.

Which way to the fire?


Embers are reported to have set fires up to 1/4 to 1/2 a mile in front of the fire.

A flare gun is used to set fire in difficult to get to locations.

Trinity Ridge ICP.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the "Big Blowup"
The Great Fires of 1910 (The Big Blowup) - August 20th

“This Day in History” is a brief summary of a powerful learning opportunity. You can use this summary as a foundation and launch point for further dialogue and discussion.
Apply these lessons learned to yourself, your crew, your team and your unit.

One might say what good is Smokey Bear and all the talk about wildfire prevention when so many fires are raging in so many locations. Even with these challanging times it is critical to use Smokey's messages and let folks know what they can do, how they can take an active part in protection and prevention. From the smallest act of talking to a neighbor about the current dangers to organizing a community event these all just might prevent  that next fire from starting and it could be that fire that if not prevented might be the one that destroys homes, property or turns deadly. It just takes one fire ... so lets work togther to prevent that one fire!!!!


Monday, August 20, 2012

VDOF attends the VA State Firefighters Expo

The 126th annual Virginia State Firefighter's Association & Auxiliary Conference/Expo was held this past week at the Hampton Roads Convention Center.
The following pictures were taken at the Virginia Department of Forestry's display area. There was a steady flow of folks (young and old ) who came by to play a couple of games, pick up some prevention and education material, learn about Smokey Bear and VA Firewise and to just talk about wildfires. One older gentleman talked about his work as a member of a Keep Virginia Green Crew back in the 50's.

Our new Smokey was a big hit all 8' of him.

Smokey's corn hole toss was played by young and old alike.

Steve Counts look on as a young girl spins the wheel for one of the nicer "prizes".
These two kids must have put the puzzle togther a dozen times.

Lots od Smokey related school supplies (rulers, pencils, erasers etc) were picked up "for the grand kids".

This young girl was so proud of her Smokey Tat!

I refurbushed an old (1960's) display and it was a big hit, who says it has to be electronic to be fun?

This young man must have tossed a corn bag 1,000 times till he won his Smokey Bear doll.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wildfires erupting all across the west and mid-west as the drought continue to expand.

With 12 of 14 type 1 incident management teams assigned to incidents and firefighters  and resources being stretched the outlook does not look well for the next several weeks. Wildland agencies east of the Mississippi are stepping up to the call for assistance.
For the first time this summer, the Virginia Department of Forestry is sending fire-fighters to aid in the suppression of wildfires in the west.  Eight (4 full time and 4 part-time) employees will be part of an interagency 20 person crew that is heading to Idaho. The remainder of the crew will be comprised of USFWS and America corp. employees.  From the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. According to the National Interagency Fire Centre there are currently 63 large fires burning involving over 1,273,351 acres.  We are reminded all too often that it does not have to be a large fire to cause serious damage and even be deadly. A USFS fire-fighter was killed on a 48 acre wildfire in ID when a tree fell hitting her.

(CNN) -- Blistering hot temperatures will blast the normally tepid Pacific Northwest again Thursday as dozens of wildfires burn across large sections of the western United States.
The mercury is expected to soar near triple digits in Portland, Oregon, with Seattle forecast to reach the lower 90s, the National Weather Service said. The coastal region is roasting under an excessive heat warning.
At least 70 large fires were burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. California had the most with 13, followed by Nevada with 12 and Idaho with 10, the center said.
The Marines joined the fight on Wednesday, with helicopter units from California joining U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and California in fighting the fires by air. The Marine units will help fight fires around San Diego.

Wildfires raging in 13 Western states
In California alone, 8,000 firefighters were fighting a dozen fires, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wednesday. The state issued a burn ban, saying only some campfires are allowed.
Conditions could worsen in some places over the next few days. The National Weather Service said a weather pattern developing in parts of Oregon could produce conditions favorable to "explosive fire growth."

SAN FRANCISCO—Officials were concerned that thunderstorms and strong winds expected to hit Northern California early Thursday could make the work of firefighters more difficult as they scramble to shore up containment lines at several raging wildfires.
"That's the biggest question," fire spokeswoman Alissa Tanner said. "If the thunderstorms will just be rain and not gusts of winds that will be a real blessing. If not, then it could spread the fire in many different directions."
Among nearly a dozen major wildfires burning across the state, a 66-square-mile blaze in Plumas National Forest has proven problematic given the remote, rugged location. More than 900 homes were under threat, and authorities have urged residents to leave.
The National Weather Service expected isolated thunderstorms for the remote area, but only a 20 percent chance of precipitation. Crews re-established containment lines on Wednesday, but officials were concerned about the stormy forecast, Tanner said.
Some 8,000 firefighters were battling California's largest wildfires, said state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. Fire officials issued a statewide burning ban Wednesday that will stay in effect pending a significant change in the weather or the end of fire season.
Elsewhere in Northern California, firefighters made significant progress against a wildfire in Lake County, despite dry weather and triple-digit temperatures. Hundreds of evacuees were allowed to return
home after the blaze burned more than 12 square miles and threatened nearly 500 homes in the Spring Valley community.
"We're definitely getting the upper hand on this fire," Berlant said.
In Southern California, wildfires threatened dozens of homes in the midst of a brutal heat wave.
In rural San Diego County, a group of five wildfires caused by lightning burned more than 24 square miles of wilderness, state fire Capt. Mike Mohler said. Evacuation orders covering about 180 homes and 400 residents were issued for the communities of Ranchita and Santa Fe.
The two largest fires were above the desert floor in an area subject to erratic winds. Forecasts called for a return of monsoonal moisture that could create thunderstorms with even more erratic winds Thursday, Mohler said.
Meanwhile, a 4 1/2-square-mile blaze in the foothills of Riverside County's San Jacinto Mountains threatened 47 homes, though officials lifted an evacuation order Wednesday. The fire near the community of Aguanga, east of Temecula, burned four structures, including at least one home.
A resident living in a trailer was seriously burned and a second resident received lesser injuries after the fire broke out Tuesday, authorities said. Two firefighters received minor injuries.
Elsewhere in Southern California, military helicopters dropped water on two fires that blackened more than 12,000 acres in the rugged Kern County mountains above the Mojave Desert about 80 miles north of Los Angeles. The fires forced the Bureau of Land Management to temporarily close about 20 miles of the popular Pacific Crest Trail, which runs through three western states between Canada and Mexico.
Berlant said officials were concerned that wildfire season began earlier than usual in the state.
"We have definitely seen an increase in fires this season in comparison to previous years," Berlant said. "Most of the damaging fires happen in September and October, not during the summer months."
He said the rest of the region also has been hit with fires relatively early in the season.
"We're starting to see the same level of activity that's been occurring in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico," Berlant said. "We're just like the rest of the West; We continue to be hot and dry, just like them."


Daily statistics 8/15/12
Number of new large fires
States currently reporting large fires:
Number of active large fires
(number includes full suppression and resource managed fires)
Arkansas (3)
Arizona (6)
California (13)
Idaho (10)
Montana (6)
Nevada (10)
New Mexico (1)
Oklahoma (2)
Oregon (2)
Texas (6)
Utah (2)
Washington (1)
Wyoming (1)
Acres from active fires
Fires contained since 8/14/12
Year-to-date large fires contained