Wildland Fire News

Thursday, September 24, 2020

American Farm Bureau Federation calls on Congress to support wildfire legislation

The American Farm Bureau Federation and 13 state Farm Bureaus penned a letter urging lawmakers to support the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. Public Policy Director Ryan Yates says the legislation would provide managers of federal wildlands more resources to fight and prevent wildfires. “The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act represents a great bipartisan step forward in an attempt to give federal land managers additional tools that help them better manage our federal forests, especially out west. And when it comes to looking at a fire season like we are having in 2020, it really identifies the need for continued active management on our federal lands.” Yates says the legislation will expedite forest management, accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation, and remove dead and dangerous wood from national forests. He adds the 2020 fire season demonstrates the need for this legislation.
Norfolk Daily News

Oregon wildfires: Firefighter recounts running out of water during wild 36-hour battle to save homes

Firefighter Brian Weidman was summoned to a grass fire near Ashland that was threatening some homes on Sept. 8, one blustery day after Labor Day. He figured it might take a few hours to put out the flames before heading back north to his fire station in nearby Phoenix. It’d be more like 36 hours before he called it a day. And by then, there was no fire station to return to. The Almeda fire had burned through Jackson County Fire District No. 5's Fire Station No. 3 -- plus more than 2,800 structures, ravaging the towns of Phoenix and Talent as well as parts of Medford and Ashland. Three people are known to have died, in addition to six others statewide. “It moved faster than any other fire I’ve ever been on,” said Weidman, a captain and a firefighter of 10 years. “It was an intense fire fight that lasted for many, many hours. “With limited resources and eventually lack of water,” he added, “it was a very, very difficult thing to manage.”
Portland Oregonian, Hillsboro Argus, Oregon Live.com

Bill introduced to promote prescribed fire intends to reduce fire risk

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would make large sums of money available to increase the number of acres treated with prescribed fire (also known as controlled burns). It has been fashionable during the last two years to blame “forest management” for the large, devastating wildfires that have burned thousands of homes in California. According to a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service the federal government manages 46 percent of the land in California. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection manages or has fire protection responsibility for about 30 percent. Research conducted in 2019 to identify barriers to conducting prescribed fires found that in the 11 western states the primary reasons cited were lack of adequate capacity and funding, along with a need for greater leadership direction and incentives.
Wildfire Today

Idaho pilot identified in fatal air tanker crash

One person is dead after a single-engine airplane fighting the Schill Fire crashed to the ground outside of Emmett on Tuesday evening, according to Idaho Fire Information, which is operated by the Bureau of Land Management. On Wednesday, BLM said pilot Ricky Fulton died in the crash. The aircraft, T-857, was owned by Aero S.E.A.T. Incorporated and was on an on-call contract with BLM Fire and Aviation at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. The crash occurred at around 6:30 p.m., according to FAA spokesperson Allen Kenitzer. Gov. Brad Little issued a statement Wednesday afternoon regarding Fulton’s death. “Tragically, a firefighter died when the single engine air tanker he was flying crashed during initial attack operations on the Schill Fire near Emmett (on) Tuesday,” Little said through a news release.
East Idaho News

Texas Fire Department gains new brush truck for wildland firefighting

Sudan Fire Department added a new 2020 brush truck to their fleet thanks to a $199,800 cost share grant through the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program administered by Texas A&M Forest Service. “We are proud to have received this grant to help purchase an apparatus that will be used exclusively for wildland fires,” said Sudan Fire Department Chief Mike Hill. “It can carry 1,250-gallons of water and is tall enough to get into difficult areas, especially with extensive grassland in the area.” The new apparatus can carry three firefighters and is in service and already used to respond to two fires. "Or service area goes 23 miles south and west so when we get a response call, time is of the essence, "said Hill. “This new truck doesn’t have a warmup time, so it allows us to respond quicker, just crank and go.”
KCBD-TV NBC 11 Lubbock

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Crews from 27 states help fight Riverside Fire in Oregon

Fire personnel from 27 states are helping fight the Riverside Fire burning in Clackamas County. The fire has burned 138,020 acres and is 26% contained. Officials said firefighters are working with partner agencies to mitigate hazards near local communities so that residents can return home safely. According to firefighters, fire continues to smolder and creep, burning in logs, stump holes, standing dead trees, and deep layers of needles on the forest floor, producing smoke visible within the fire’s perimeter. On Monday, officials said the fire grew slightly on the east side, in an area where there’s a 45% slope, which is extremely difficult terrain for a crew to work in. Officials add the safest, most efficient strategy is to monitor the fire where it is burning in rugged area.
KATU-TV ABC 2 Portland

Investigators in California seek public’s help identifying vehicle seen around the time Apple Fire started

Cal Fire investigators have released a photo of a vehicle seen in the area around the same time that the 33,000+ acre Apple Fire first sparked on July 31. Officials said the fire was started by a faulty diesel truck's exhaust pipe. The fire quickly spread due to dry vegetation and winds, burning 33,424 acres, causing an estimated 2,600 residences and 7,800 people to evacuate, and damaging/destroying multiple structures. Investigators are asking drivers who were traveling on Oak Glen Road, between Apple Tree Lane and Wildwood Canyon, on July 31, 2020, around 4:50 p.m. and 4:55 p.m. to call the anonymous tip line at (800) 633-2836.
KESQ-TV ABC 42 Palm Springs

‘It’s a fantastic view of it all’; Colorado fire tower turns 50

Various birds zip and dive around the Benchmark Lookout fire tower as Rick Freimuth scans the horizon with binoculars for any sign of wildfire smoke. His panoramic view encompasses the surrounding foothills and peaks of the San Juan Mountains and stretches to Mesa Verde, the Dolores River Canyon rim and the Abajo and La Sal mountain ranges in Utah. Farther in the distance, Monument Valley and the Carrizo Mountains on the Navajo Reservation can be seen. “I look for smoke, anything different or out of place,” Rick said. “It’s a fantastic view of it all.” This year is the 50th anniversary of the Benchmark Lookout Tower, located in the San Juan National Forest north of Dolores. The 42-foot-high tower sits at 9,262 feet elevation on a high ridge next to Glade Mountain.
Pine River Times

Marines, Sailors Join National Guard to Fight California Wildfires

Marines and sailors deployed over the weekend to the frontlines of multi-agency firefighting efforts on the Creek fire, which has consumed more than 122 square miles in central California. The Marines and sailors assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion – about 250 personnel in all, including about a dozen Navy hospital corpsmen – will form as hand crews with strike teams, each led by a wildland firefighter, for a deployment of unknown length. They will join more than 3,100 personnel fighting the Creek fire, which sparked Sept. 4 and has scorched 278,368 acres of mostly forested land. The fire was only 27-percent contained as of Monday morning, according to fire officials. The deployment is the latest assignment of West Coast-based I Marine Expeditionary Force units to assist federal and state firefighters battling dozens of blazes that were burning across California and the West.

University of Hawaii team to develop wildfire risk system

Recent wildfires ravaging the West Coast highlight the importance of preparation and understanding the threat everywhere, including Hawaii. A team at the University of Hawaii at Manoa will work to improve assessment and communication of unique wildland fire risk the state faces. The UH Manoa Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), the Wildland Fire Extension Program (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources), and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (College of Engineering) secured nearly $1 million in funding for the project. The grant is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through partnership and cooperation with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) and UH Manoa.
University of Hawaii News

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