Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wildfire news, August 19

Ellreese Daniels' sentencing

A reminder.... the sentencing is tomorrow,Wednesday, August 20 at 10 a.m. in Spokane. Daniels plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges of making false statements to investigators for actions on the Thirtymile fire.

We will have the results of the sentencing here as soon as it is available.

August 20, a big day in wildland fire

Not only will Ellreese be sentenced, but...

It is 20 years after the single biggest day on the Yellowstone Area Fires. From the IAWF's Wildland Fire Event Calendar:
In the summer of 1988 numerous fires burned 793,000 acres of Yellowstone National Park as well as large tracts of land surrounding the park.

Half of the acres burned inside the park resulted from fires that started outside the boundary. Nine of the fires were human-caused, and 42 were started by lightning.

On the worst single day, August 20, 1988, tremendous winds pushed fire across more than 150,000 acres. Throughout August and early September, some park roads and facilities were closed to the public, and residents of nearby towns outside the park feared for their property and their lives.

Yellowstone’s fire management policy was the topic of heated debate, from the restaurants of park border towns to the halls of Congress. Following this event, the National Park Service and other federal land management agencies rewrote their policies affecting how they managed fires with less than full suppression strategies.
And, it is 98 years after the Big Blowup of 1910 in the northwest:
As the fires scaled up, the fledgling U.S. Forest Service, barely five years old, tried to match them. It rounded up whatever men it could beg, borrow, or buy and shipped them into the backcountry. The crews established camps, cut firelines along ridgetops, and backfired.

Over and again, one refrain after another, the saga continued of fires contained, of fires escaping, of new trenches laid down. Then the Big Blownp of 20-21 August shredded it all. Farms, mining camps, trestles, hobo camps, and whole towns cracked and burned. Those on the lines heard that savage thunder and felt a heat that could melt iron and buffeted in winds that could scatter whole trees like leaves and stared, senseless, into smoke too dense to see their own hands before them. Crews dropped their saws and mattocks and fled.

That day seventy-eight firefighters died.

Bridge Creek fire

This wildland fire use fire in central Oregon that blew out on Saturday and Sunday, burning outside the Ochoco National Forest, slowed on Monday due to more moderate weather. The incident management team is calling it 3,000 acres.

Redding Jumpers set record

The Redding smoke jumpers have done 562 individual jumps as of Monday, which breaks the previous season record of 523
“We have been busy — consistently busy,” said Scott Smith, a smoke jumper at the base. “Normally there is a lull.”

Not this year, jumpers said.

The California Smokejumper base, the only smoke-jumper base in the state and one of only nine in the country, has a regular staff of about 40 jumpers during the fire season. That number goes up and down depending on the amount of fire activity. In June, it went way up.

“At one point during the summer we had 140,” Bente said of the jumpers working out of the base.

Those extra jumpers came from Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington — from all of the eight other bases in the country.
Hawaii tourists evacuated from fire via watercraft

A vegetation fire on the Hawaiian island of Kauai trapped 35 hikers who had to be evacuated by firefighters using jet skis and a Zodiac boat. The fire which started early Sunday morning has burned about 50 acres. More details are HERE.

iPod "wildfires"

According to Register Hardware:
The long dry* summer wears on, rendering habitats parched and flammable as tinder. Pockets containing iPods are one such habitat and the annual outbreak of gadgetry-related conflagrations is under way.

A particularly severe pocket wildfire epidemic is raging at this moment in Japan, where Reuters reports that roaring infernos have erupted following terrifying iPod-centred meltdowns on at least three recent occasions.

Nobody was injured during the three fires, leading to speculation that these occasions may have seen the partly-nibbled-fruit branded musical gizmos docked, lying artfully strewn on coffee tables or perhaps pocketed in robust, flame-resistant Nipponese garments of some sort. However, it appeared that on at least two other occasions iPod users had suffered "minor burns", presumably to the trouser region - though this was not confirmed.

The latter incidents bring to mind the horrific, eye-watering incident last year in which an inferno gutted the underpants of an airport worker in Atlanta, with the flames "reaching his chest", according to his distraught mother. On that occasion, with smoke belching from his trousers in an airport, iPod owner Danny Williams was considered fortunate not to be mistaken for a suicide bomber and riddled with bullets by jumpy plods.

Returning to this week's gadget fireball outbreak, it appears that a "semi-governmental" Japanese agency specialising in incidents of this type will look into the matter in cooperation with Apple. It seems that certain iPod Nanos sold in Japan from September 2005 to September 2006 have been fingered ahead of the probe.
Flooding in Grand Canyon, update

The Grand Canyon National Park helitack crew was heavily involved in this massive rescue. From the National Park Service:
The evacuation of people from Supai Canyon following this weekend’s serious floods continued yesterday. Another 85 people were airlifted from Supai Village to the Hualapai Hilltop area on Monday morning, while other drove to the American Red Cross evacuation center located at the tribal gymnasium in Peach Springs. Seven helicopters from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the National Park Service and the Arizona National Guard were employed in the operation.

Rescuers are continuing their efforts to determine if anyone is still missing and are conducting extensive air and ground searches in efforts to locate everyone. Supai remains closed to all campers and tourists.

It’s believed that a number of weather-related events contributed to the flash floods in the canyon. According to the National Weather Service, the Coconino Plateau experienced significant rainfall on Friday afternoon, Saturday afternoon, and again on Sunday afternoon.

It appears that the flooding in Supai late Saturday night and early Sunday was the result of heavy rainfall on Saturday afternoon. Water levels in the canyon remained high through Monday morning due to additional rainfall that fell on Sunday. Total rainfall for the period of Friday through Sunday was relatively light in the Supai area, but as high as six inches 20 to 40 miles upstream.
Montana: Canyon Creek Fire, 20 years later

The Great Falls Tribune has an excellent article about this historic, if not legendary, fire. Orville Daniels, who was the Forest Supervisor of the Lolo National Forest at the time, has been very open about the fire, making presentations and answering questions from reporters. The article is HERE.

The rest of the story: 230 homes burned, not 80

On Monday Wildfire Today covered the fire on Travis Air Force base northeast of San Francisco that officials said burned 80 unoccupied homes. Apparently they were wrong, according to the AP.
The military says a wind-whipped fire at a California air base damaged more vacant homes than previously thought — at least 230. Air Force Maj. Vanessa Hillman said Sunday that the 190 homes and 40 duplexes burned in the fire at Travis Air Force Base were slated for demolition anyway.

The blaze started as a grass fire Saturday and quickly spread to a development that once housed service members. Officials had said at least 80 vacant homes burned. Residents of nearby homes were not evacuated, but Hillman says some buildings were still lacked natural gas service Sunday.

The blaze scorched more than 10 acres of the base about 40 miles southwest of Sacramento.
A 10-acre fire and 230 structures slated for demolition burn. And the military at first says 80 houses burned, and then it turns out that three times that many burned. Hmmmmm. It makes you wonder WTF is going on.

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