Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wildfire news, July 19

Fired Hawaii firefighter suspected of arson

A former Honolulu firefighter is suspected of starting three vegetation fires on Thursday. He was fired for trying to manipulate the outcome of his random drug test. The Hawaii Kai fire department put out three fires totaling eight acres that started within a 4 hour period. Police arrested Kenton F. Leong, 41, a 17-year veteran of the fire department, near the scene of the third fire. He was spotted by a policeman walking out of an area where a fire had just started.

South Carolina lookout towers

Only 40 of South Carolina's 160 fire lookout towers are still standing and groups are trying to save at least pieces of some of them for a museum. Most of the remaining towers have not been maintained since 1993 and are literally falling apart. When the towers were built decades ago, even wired telephones were rare and it took a while for fires to be reported. Now almost everybody on the road or out in the woods has a cell phone, so it's like having thousands of "lookouts".

Brush fires in Los Angeles

A couple of brush fires in the LA area received a lot of local attention yesterday, attracting a squadron of news helicopters documenting every pulaski stroke. One in La Tuna Canyon north of Burbank burned 15 acres and a Pasadena fire scorched 5 acres.

Pot growers threaten firefighters

Wildland firefighters have enough to worry about while trying to stay safe suppressing a fire, but a story in the Press Democrat gives several examples of marijuana growers in California threatening or even shooting at firefighters. The group of camo-wearing men that were trapped and burned on the Motion fire on Wednesday were suspected of tending a pot plantation. This is not a new problem. On the Big Bar fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in 1987 we were warned to stay out of a certain area as much as possible because armed men had been seen there, most likely guarding a plantation.

Basin fire

InciWeb has this information, released last night, on the Basin fire east of Big Sur:

Burnout operations between Piney Creek and Arroyo Seco west of Carmel Valley Road began this afternoon and will continue this evening. Smoke is highly visible in this area.

Burnout operations continue east of Devil's Peak on the north edge of the fire, and will continue in the coming days as conditions permit. The northern edge of the fire is backing toward Carmel River inside the containment lines.

Fire activity has increased in the Rocky, Calaboose, and Piney Creek drainages due to dissipating smoke cover from the previous day's burnouts and increasing temperatures.
The Basin fire is 133,270 acres and is 70% contained.

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