Wildland Fire News

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Cause of 130,000+ acre Moose Fire in Idaho determined

US Forest Service investigators have determined the 130,000-acre Moose Fire was caused by an unextinguished and unattended campfire, which spread to adjacent vegetation on the afternoon of July 17th. "A wildland fire investigation team comprised of U.S. Forest Service Special Agents and Law Enforcement Officers, aided by local law enforcement, conducted numerous interviews along with forensic processing of the origin area," a news release states. The fire began on a small flat commonly used as a dispersed camping area, across from the Moose Creek drainage, between Salmon River Road and the Main Salmon River, approximately 5.6 miles west of North Fork, Idaho. Investigators believe the fire may have been left smoldering in a rock fire ring from the previous night.
KXLH-TV NBC 9 Helena

‘It’s the Jeep Wrangler of the sky’: New CAL FIRE helicopters are game-changers for firefighting at night

VIDEO: Until this wildfire season, all the air attacks CAL FIRE has launched with its own planes and helicopters have been limited to daylight hours only. A new fleet of Sikorsky S-70i FIREHAWK helicopters is changing that for California’s statewide firefighting department, allowing CAL FIRE to douse flames in the dark. At CAL FIRE’s Aviation Management Unit at McClellan Park in Sacramento County, ABC10 met up with CAL FIRE’s Helicopter Program Manager and Chief Helicopter Pilot Ben Berman, who gave us a tour of the new CAL FIRE HAWKS. “It’s the Jeep Wrangler of the sky,” Berman said with a smile. CAL FIRE has nine of the HAWKS now, with three more being built and money for four additional ones approved in this year’s state budget, at $25 million each.
KGTV ABC 10 San Diego

Weather History: The 1881 Heat & Drought with Massive Great Lakes Fires & Smoke in September

Massive wildfires swept through the forests of Michigan & Wisconsin, engulfing the Midwest & East, then northeast U.S. in a yellow sky & blue sun from the smoke. Known at the "Thumb Fire" the entire thumb of Michigan's forests were burned. Entire towns burned, killing at least 282 & causing upwards of $65 million (inflation-adjusted) in damage. 3400 barns, homes & schools were destroyed. 15,000 people were reportedly left homeless. It is amazing the death toll was not higher as it burned more than 1 million acres in less than one day. This ranks up with the Minnesota Hinckley Fire of September 1894 (another big drought year that lasted through 1895), Great Fires of 1871 as some of the most destructive in Great Lakes history. Massive wildfires swept northern Newton & Jasper counties in early Fall 1895.
WLFI-TV CBS/CW+ 18 Lafayette

Third week of Bolt Creek Fire in Washington brings challenging conditions, new evacuation warnings

Very dry conditions and a red flag warning on Monday are adding to the challenges presented by the Bolt Creek Fire. The blaze that started Sept. 10 is now in its third week, relentlessly burning near Skykomish just west of Stevens Pass. So far it has scorched more than 11,200 acres and continues to grow. About 150 firefighters are working to slow it down. The dry conditions led to bumped-up evacuation warnings, just after U.S. Highway 2 fully reopened over the weekend. Now, evacuation orders are: The west side of the Money Creek Tunnel to milepost 48 and Forest Service Road 65 are under Level 3 orders — that means you need to leave now. Skykomish, Baring, Grotto and U.S. 2 east of the Money Creek Tunnel are under a level 2 notice — everyone in those areas should be ready to go in case of an evacuation order.
KIRO-TV CBS 7 Seattle

Montana: Governor, city leaders tout forest management efforts after Mt. Helena fire

All up and down the side of Mount Helena, you can see large brush piles. They’re reminders that the area has been undergoing wildfire fuel mitigation work – and state and local leaders agree that work made a big difference as firefighters tried to get control of a fire on the mountain last month. On Monday, Gov. Greg Gianforte joined Helena city leaders on Mount Helena to tout the value of active forest management in addressing wildfire risk. Brad Langsather, the city of Helena’s open lands manager, said August’s wildfire showed the public just how real the threat of fire is. “They not only got to see the tactics that were deployed, but the citizens got to see the effect of active forest management and the impact that it can have on fire behavior,” he said.
KTVQ-TV CBS 2 Billings

Monday, September 26, 2022

Firefighter assigned to the Moose Fire in Idaho dies after suffering a medical emergency

Firefighter Gerardo Rincon, who was a crew boss battling the Moose Fire near Salmon, Idaho, died after a medical emergency on the morning of Sept. 20, according to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Forest Supervisor Charles Mark. Rincon served as a wildland firefighter since 1994. During his career, he was a Type 2 firefighter, engine captain and crew boss. According to Mark, he was highly recognized for his performance by his employers and crew members enjoyed working for him during many fire assignments. The USFS worked with the incident management team and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to return Rincon to his home in Oregon on Sept. 24. There was a procession from the Jones and Casey Funeral Home though downtown Salmon and to the Lemhi County Airport.
KHQA-TV CBS 7 Quincy

Wildfire season leaves its scars across Montana

A wildfire season has left its scars across the Treasure State. Now as cooler temperatures slow down fire activity, state officials reflect on this season’s impacts. “We saw the high pressure heat really set in in July and August that put our fire danger on a pretty steep climb, and we moved from that moderate fire danger to very high and extreme in just a number of weeks,” Montana DNRC fire protection bureau chief Matt Hall said. You can see the aftermath from the Elmo 2 Fire near Flathead Lake. These scarred lands are part of the roughly 120,000 acres burned to date this year, and smoke-filled Montana skies throughout the summer, but this fire season saw less activity than last season. “We did see that moisture move through June, where the previous year, we were already well into fire season in June, and so that late moisture did help push fire season activity till later in July and August,” Hall said.
KECI-TV NBC 13 Missoula

Oregon sees 63% drop in wildfire acres burned in 2022

As the 2022 wildfire season in Oregon nears its end, it seems fair to say this season has been decidedly different than recent years. “While the last 20 years have seen difficult-to-control large wildfire activity each year, this year has been different for the PNW,” the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center tweeted Sunday night. “So far this year we’ve seen fires totaling 549,093 acres. This is a 63 percent drop from 2021 with 1,503,027 acres.” That’s right — a 63% drop in acres burned in Oregon year-to-year. (Generally, wildfire season in Oregon lasts from mid-May to mid-September.) But there are still plenty of wildfires burning in Oregon at this time. It’s just that they’re smaller (for the most part) and relatively contained. The state’s largest fire, the Double Creek Fire, began August 22 by a lightning strike. Officials said the fire grew 6 acres over the past day, and 518 personnel are assigned to fight it.
KOIN-TV CBS 6 Portland

Evacuations updated as winds continue to spread Bolt Creek Fire in Washington

Changing weather patterns have increased the threat of the Bolt Creek Fire, causing a series of new evacuations as officials say the fire could get more volatile rapidly due to heat and dry conditions. The fire, which has been burning since Sept. 10, has gone from 96% contained down to just 7% contained. As of 5 p.m. Sunday, some areas east of Skykomish, along with residences north and south of US Route 2 are under a Level 1 evacuation notice, meaning to start preparing to leave. Level 1 evacuations—’get ready’—are also in effect for Beckler River to FS Road 66, north and south of US 2, including Foss River Road and Index. Skykomish, Baring, Grotto, and the area along US 2, east to the Money Creek tunnel are under a Level 2 notice, meaning to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
My Northwest

Bringing Indigenous fire practices back to New Hampshire

Decline in air quality. Danger. Damage. The latest headlines about wildfires emphasize its potential for large-scale destruction, but there’s a positive side to fire that has long been used by Indigenous people as a way of caring for the natural landscape. Now Abenaki leaders are working alongside the U.S. Forest Service to research this practice and return it to New Hampshire. Unlike wildfires, controlled fires can benefit the landscape, allowing species to thrive and depositing necessary nutrients. But for many years, those practices were suppressed out of a fear of fire and desire to protect the commercial value of timber. “Fire became kind of viewed as an enemy, as a danger,” said John Neely, an assistant fire management officer for the White Mountain National Forest.
New Hampshire Bulletin

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