Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wildfire news, August 26

Callabasas, Calif: Classic urban interface fire

It only burned 30 acres, but when firefighters stopped this fire near Mailbu Creek State Park in southern California this afternoon, it had structures on the perimeter and an island of them in the center. The reports we have seen do not mention any homes being destroyed. This is amazing. From looking at the photo below, a lot of credit should go to the firefighters who had urban interface almost everywhere on this fire, and the homeowners who must have had good clearance as well.

Between 225 and 250 firefighters worked on the fire, along with 5 water dropping helicopters.

East Slide Rock Ridge fire, northeast Nevada

This fire started on August 8 and was managed as a Fire Use fire until August 23 when it was declared a suppression fire and Paul Summerfelt's Type 1 incident management team assumed command. Monday morning it was 18,250 acres but it made a huge run later in the day. Pushed by strong winds in front of a cold front it grew by over 9,000 20,000 acres and is now mapped at 28,000 38,600 acres. It burned towards the northeast and crossed the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest boundary in three places onto private land. It has now approached to within 2 miles of the Idaho border.

Gunbarrel fire

Paul Broyle's Type 1 Incident Management Team will assume command from the Fire Use Management Team on Wednesday. This fire which is between Yellowstone National Park and Cody, Wyoming is now 55,471 acres. It is 24 miles (east/west) by 10 miles (north/south). HERE is a link to a map of the fire.

From the incident management team at 8:00 a.m. MT this morning:
Firefighters are anticipating Red Flag conditions today. The warning was extended by the National Weather Service until 6:00 pm today for high winds. Strong dry winds predicted today, coupled with continued warm and dry conditions, are expected to increase fire growth on the northeast side of the fire today. Structure protection is in place for residences and firefighters expect to be busy defending homes in upper portions of the Jim Mountain, Jim Creek, and Big Creek areas; and cabins and lodges on the fire's west end in the general area of Libby Creek.

Yesterday the fire made advances in the Goff Creek and Gunbarrel Creek drainages where structure protection is in place. Due to the potential for the fire to spread towards Elephant Head Lodge, the lodge was placed under an evacuation advisory. The fire also grew on the east side, spotting onto the east side of Trout Creek.

An update from the incident management team at 11:30 a.m. MT this morning:
Currently wind on the Gunbarrel fire is blowing at sustained speeds of 15-20 mph, with gusts to 30-40 mph. A cold front is passing over the northwest corner of Wyoming this morning.

The wind is causing the fire to spread very readily. Spot fires thrown ahead of the fire front are among the most challenging consequences of the strong wind.

The fire is very active in its northeast corner, in Trout Creek. Managers believe it is likely this edge of the fire may move a few miles today. There is also significant fire activity in the head of Big Creek. Last night the fire was most active in Libby Creek; this area is more sheltered from upper level winds than the fire’s east end, but still is expected to be challenging today.

Firefighters are working in each of the areas where fire is close to homes. They include Elephant Head Lodge, Star Hill Ranch, Jim Mountain, Mooncrest Ranch, and others.

The wind currently is too strong for fixed wing air tankers to fly, and too strong for all but the two largest helicopters. An aerial observer is having a turbulent day today but so far still is able to fly safely.

The red flag warning for strong wind remains in effect until 6 p.m. this evening.

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