Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wildfire news, August 5

"What is Red is Dead"

On August 3 we posted a video and some information about the bark beetle outbreak in Colorado. CBS News did a story and shot some video footage months ago that never made it to the air, but it is posted here. The article mentions that you can see the "red" pine beetle damage on Google Earth. I checked it out and it's true. Look on Google Earth 30 miles west of Boulder, Colorado, long/lat: 40 00' 54", 106 21' 37". This is the area that I saw a week ago, where there were some tracts of hundreds of acres with 100% mortality. There are other similar areas across the western U.S. and also in Canada.

The Gunbarrel fire between Yellowstone National Park and Cody, Wyoming is burning in an area with 50-80% bug mortality. Sunday evening the fire made a 4.5-mile run in three hours. Is this a taste of things to come?

More dry lightning?

Thunderstorms, some initially with dry lightning, are expected over portions of northern California and southern Oregon this afternoon and evening.

Turkish fire under control

The fire that burned 12,300 acres near some main tourist hubs is now under control. It broke out between the towns of Serik and Manavgat on Thursday and pushed by 43 mph winds and 104 degree heat killed two men and destroyed 60 houses.

Firefighter injured by grizzly doing OK

The firefighter that was roughed up by the grizzly bear while working on the LeHardy fire in Yellowstone National Park is back at work.
Tony Allabastro, a member of the Lewis and Clark Forest Service hotshot crew based in Great Falls, reportedly saw the bear over his shoulder, coming from where his crew had been doing controlled burns, Sandy Hare, public information officer for the LeHardy fire, said Monday.

Before he had a chance to get his bear spray, the grizzly pounced on him and “roughed him up,” Hare said. The bear was “acting instinctually.”

“(The bear) just wanted out,” Hare said. “There was something in its way, and it happened to be a human.”

Allabastro got away with minimal injuries. He was treated at the Yellowstone Clinic in Lake, Wyo., for scratches and bruises Sunday and released.
Allabastro, who has fought wildfire for three seasons and served on a hotshot crew for one, was tackled by the grizzly while working on a burnout near Fishing Bridge.

The burnout is intended to put a buffer between the LeHardy fire and Fishing Bridge, an enclave of campgrounds, gas stations and other amenities in the park. As crews resumed that work Monday, people traveling on the park’s Grand Loop Road were again treated to views of giant plumes of smoke from their cars.

Between 500 and 600 grizzly bears are estimated to call Yellowstone home, according to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Bear sightings by fire crews is a common occurrence, Hare said.

But “firefighter-grizzly conflicts are pretty rare,” she said. “That’s why they carry bear spray.”

To boot, wildlife experts consider the Fishing Bridge area “the core of bear country” in the park, Hare said.

On Monday the LeHardy fire grew from 4,700 to 7,335 acres and is 5% contained. More details are here.

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