Monday, July 21, 2008

Wildfire news, July 21

Oxyoke Fire southwest of Denver forces evacuations

A fire near Decker, Colorado caused evacuations of nearby campgrounds and about a dozen homes on Sunday. Five airtankers and two helicopters were working the 105-acre fire which is northeast of the 2002 Hayman blaze, the largest wildfire in the state's recorded history. That fire burned 138,000 acres and destroyed 133 homes. As of last night the fire was 0% contained. Here is a link to a map, and more information is HERE.

UPDATE @ 1820 MT
As of mid-morning today the fire was 140 acres and 0% contained.

An air tanker drops retardant Sunday on the Oxyoke fire north of Deckers. ( Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Greek and South African firefighters in the U.S.

In addition to the 45 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand helping out with the fires in California, there are four from Greece and two from South Africa in the country. The Greeks are working on the Little Tujunga Hotshots, a crew that has been reconstituted after a 28-year absence. From the USFS web site:
This is the first year of the two-year program for the Greek firefighters from the Hellenic Fire Brigade. This training opportunity was specifically designed to develop hand crews for Greece which had devastating wildfires about a year ago and has similar climate and fuel types with Southern California.

In this photo of the Little Tujunga Hot Hotshots, the Greek firefighters are in blue. Click HERE for a large version of the photo.

The two from South Africa (SA) are senior instructors and crew leaders assigned to the Missoula based Great northern Fire Crew through the middle of September. If fire activity in the Northern Rockies increases, others from SA will be brought over. According to Tim Murphy:
1) 2ea. South African Regional Fire Managers (FMOs) who will shadow state DNRC FMOs in air and ground fire operations

2) Command and General staff personnel from a South African Incident Management Team will shadow our Northern Rockies IMTs to help them continue to implement the Incident Command System in Southern Africa.

3) We also hope to get the Chairman of the Board from the SA Fire Program to look at all risk ICS. He just retired as the SA National Director of Disaster Management.
(Thanks to Chuck for the tip.)

Burn outs continue on the Basin fire east of Big Sur, California

Firefighters are making great progress on the east side, where the only remaining open line is in the Arroyo Seco area, but there is still a lot of work left to do on the north side, east of Big Pines, and in the Los Padres dam area. The fire is 137,260 acres and is 70% contained. From the Monday morning update:
Yesterday afternoon burnout operations were very successful along containment lines on the east side of the fire from Piney Creek south towards Arroyo Seco, and along Chews Ridge.

Burnout operations along Chews ridge will resume this afternoon after the morning's moist marine weather conditions lift. Burnout of small islands and draws in other east side locations will occur where needed.

Yesterday, burnout operations to reinforce containment lines on the north side of the fire along Blue Rock Ridge and Hennickson's Ridge were postponed due to wind direction. National Guard C-130 airtankers dropped retardant just outside these containment lines in preparation for later burnout operations. Airtankers with retardant will continue preparation work today, and burnout operations along these containment lines will begin with favorable wind and humidity.

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