Friday, September 19, 2008

Wildfire news, September 20

Croatia: fires force evacuations
Croatian authorities ordered the evacuation of parts of the southern Adriatic resort of Makarska on Saturday because of advancing forest fires, state radio reported. The blaze near Makarska, 440 km (275 miles) south of Zagreb, started on Friday evening and has been fanned by a northerly wind reaching up to 150 kph (95 mph).

Croatia's Adriatic coast is often hit by fires during the summer months.

Some 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of pine forests have been burnt and several hundred firefighters were tackling the blaze. Several nearby villages were without electricity. 
From Reuters

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Fewer Indian fire crews available
Wildfire fighting officials say the number of Indian firefighting crews has dwindled in recent years.

Darryl Wallace is a fire prevention crew boss for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Zuni Agency. He fondly reminisces about his crews from the Zuni Pueblo of New Mexico, praising their work ethic and dedication to the job.

He says that 20 years ago, the Zuni Pueblo tribe would routinely have as many as 14 20-person crews ready for the summer fire season. But he says now he's hard-pressed to recruit crew members, and the tribe was able to field only six crews this year.

Lyle Carlile is a Cherokee and director of the fire management branch at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. He says that generally the number of Indian crews has dropped by half.
From AP

Historic structures survive Gnarl Ridge fire

On Sept. 18 Wildfire Today told you about the fire on Mt. Hood in Oregon that came back to life after sleeping for weeks.  At that time it was unknown if some of the structures survived.
The historic Cloud Cap Inn and structures at the Tilly Jane Compound, which had been threatened by wildfire on the flanks of Mount Hood, are safe, the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said Friday.

Crews weren't able to check on the buildings as the Gnarl Ridge fire, which kicked up earlier this week and advanced to within a quarter-mile of the Cooper Spur Ski Area, blocked access. The smoke also obscured their aerial view of the buildings, said Jeree Mills, spokeswoman for the coordination center.

But by late Thursday, they confirmed that all the buildings were intact, she said. Firefighters plan to lay down sprinklers when they can get to the areas, she said. Another 100 firefighters from the Southwest were flown in to help combat the fire.

Firefighter describes hurricane aftermath

An engineer from a Nevada fire department describes his experiences while being assigned to the hurricane response.
"You saw most of the devastation because it was out in the open," said Mark LePino, 47, a Clark County Fire Department engineer, describing Galveston and other hurricane-ravaged cities.

By contrast, Katrina's destruction was hidden beneath floodwaters while he was there in 2005, LePino said. LePino was one of 34 local government workers who spent almost three weeks in the Gulf Coast, helping with search-and-rescue efforts after hurricanes Gustav and Ike hurled a brutal one-two punch on the region.

The workers were part of Nevada Taskforce-1, a team designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help out after natural disasters. Workers returned home Thursday and Friday.

There are 28 such teams across the country put on regular rotation, said Alan Osborne, the county's deputy fire chief.

Of the 34 team members who went to the Gulf Coast, 24 are firefighters from Clark County, Henderson and North Las Vegas, he said. The team deployed three weeks ago to help with search efforts in Louisiana after Gustav's siege. Then workers were sent to Houston, where they were housed in Reliant Stadium until Ike passed before helping to find survivors of that storm.

Sam Fowler, 39, a county fire-prevention officer, told of how displaced families approached him, saying they were hungry, thirsty and in need of medication.

"When you see kids, that kind of gets to you," Fowler said. "They talk to you about not having food and water."

Fowler said the hurricane damage far surpassed wildfire destruction he had seen in California. Houses were torn from their foundations, he said. Boats were strewn across the freeway. LePino recalled seeing floodwater lines etched 35 feet high across apartment buildings. His job was to find survivors inside dwellings, using four Labradors trained to sniff out humans and dangerous carbon monoxide gases, he said.

That was different from when he was part of a helicopter crew that pulled Katrina victims from the rooftops of houses surrounded in water.
There's more at lvrj.com

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