Wildland Fire News

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Hundreds of firefighters train for wildfire season in Washington state

Hundreds of prospective wildland firefighters gathered in Gleed over the weekend to dig fire lines, learn about fire behavior and experience firsthand what conditions are like while fighting a wildfire. Every year, the Department of Natural Resources hosts wildfire training academies that include multiple firefighting agencies to increase interagency coordination during wildfire season. Grace Debusschere spent the past several days in the classroom — 12 hours a day — learning about weather, methods of fire suppression and the culture and the leadership style of wildland firefighting. “We’re basically applying everything that we’ve been learning in the classroom to the ground,” Debusschere said. The academies offer basic to advanced courses in wildland firefighting skills, which students receive a certificate for upon completion.

Lightning starts 50-acre wildfire in Georgia

A lightning strike Saturday ignited a fire on Cowhouse Island in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge that torched about 50 acres over the weekend but is now close to being contained, according to a press release from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Folkston. The fire was between Georgia Highway 177 and Swamp Road, said Capt. Brian Varnadore of the Ware County Fire Department. As of 6:37 p.m. Sunday, the fire was nearly fully contained after a bulldozer line had been plowed around it by government fire crews. At their disposal were four dozers, one engine, one helicopter and one fixed-wing aircraft. Operations around the fire were limited Sunday afternoon but evacuations were not necessary, said Teri Land of the U.S. Forestry and Wildlife Services. The Okefenokee Swamp Park was to be open to the public today but mop-up on the fire continues, Land said.
Waycross Journal-Herald

Camera systems help Oregon Department of Forestry detect wildfires sparked by lightning strikes

VIDEO: When lightning strikes in the summer, the concern for wildfires heightens. Sometimes detection of the fires is more challenging because witnesses aren't always around. A quick response is key to containing a wildfire quickly. That's why the Oregon Department of Forestry, ODF, says cameras in the forest come in handy when detecting a wildfire. “It’s a great resource for us it allows us to get to these fires quicker,” Marcus Kauffman with ODF says. He says six cameras can be found in Lane County and about twice as many in Douglas County, since they're operated by the Douglas Forest Protective Association. Kauffman says ODF uses the camera feed to help find locations of wildfires, which is especially helpful after a lightning storm. “We go and chase down every single smoke, but we don't have enough people when we get thirty lightning strikes, so we send people to the ones we know we can find, and then we use the detection system to identify the other remaining smokes,” Kauffman says.

Cal Fire announces the start of wildfire season

VIDEO: May 20 marks the beginning of wildfire season in California and Cal Fire gave advice to the public on how to prepare and stay safe. John Gaddie, Fire Captain with Cal Fire, offered tips on what to do. He has worked with fire crews in Butte County for nearly 25 years. Although fires are not completely preventable, he says people can reduce the amount of damage they cause. "Do it now, before it gets hotter and drier. If you haven't prepared, get a go-bag, or get ready to evacuate if necessary," Gaddie said. Evacuation is key in a fire emergency, because it not only saves the life of the person, but the lives of the firefighters that would otherwise be sent in to rescue them. This is especially important for people who live in rural or grassy areas, because those spots are more prone to fire.

Could U.S. wildfires be contributing to heart disease?

The destructive force of wildfires in the U.S. is well documented. Every year, on both the east and west coasts of the country, and due to both environmental and man-made factors, fires rage, and homes and habitats are destroyed. But beyond the obvious dangers, these fires cause other, more invisible damages. Certain nanoscale particles in the atmosphere known as organic aerosols—particles released when organic materials like trees and other plant matter are burned—have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, and even death. hese particles don't just pose a threat to the region where the fire burns. Until now, most models of atmospheric particle movement have made certain assumptions about how these organic aerosols will affect human health based on how they react with the atmosphere.

Monday, May 20, 2019

New Mexico-based ’air tanker’ company fights fires all over the world

VIDEO: What were once passenger planes are now helping put out wildfires all over the world, and the demand for these massive air tankers is growing fast. "What we've done has sort of changed the game," said John Gould, President and CEO of 10 Tanker Air Carrier. The company moved to Albuquerque six years ago and has since gone from a one-plane company to a four-plane fleet. Gould says the need for the company is growing as wildfire seasons continue to get worse. "They're worse. They're hotter fires than they were when I was a young man fighting fires. It's a different world out there and they are using us more," said Gould. Gould says his company has helped fight every major fire in the United States over the last several years. That includes the devastating Camp and Woolsey fires in California and the 416 and Ute Park fires in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

Wildfire in Alberta burns more than 100,000 acres

The Chuckegg Creek Fire southwest of High Level, Alberta continued to spread rapidly to the north Sunday afternoon and into the night, running across and becoming well established north of Highway 58. The Town of High Creek advised their residents Monday morning: As of 9:00 a.m. May 20, 2019, the town remains in no immediate danger, but residents are recommended to remain vigilant and be prepared to evacuate if conditions change. The eastern flank of the fire had slow growth over night. The HLFD will begin Sprinkler protection operations today May 20, 2019, in town and at the Tolko mill. Our very unofficial estimate of the size, based on satellite imagery at 5:18 a.m. May 20, is that the Chuckegg Creek Fire has burned approximately 150,000 acres (60,700 ha). Strong gusty winds are in the forecast again for Monday, which should produce continued growth of the fire. Alberta Wildfire has 64 firefighters, heavy equipment, and helicopters and air tankers working to contain the fire. Additional resources have been requested.
Wildfire Today

’Firefighter’ or ’forestry tech’? And why it matters in Idaho, Montana

AUDIO: Here’s a riddle: When is a wildland firefighter not technically a firefighter? Answer: When he or she works for the federal government. That’s because the feds designate them as "forestry technicians." That irks many firefighters who put it all on the line as a changing climate means wildfire seasons are now longer and fires burn bigger and hotter. "Firefighters are called 'firefighters' by the press, the public and the politicians, most often when they die. They’re classified by the Office of Personnel Management as 'Forestry Technicians'." That’s Casey Judd, president of the Federal Wildland Fire Services Association. Judd and a handful of Idaho and Montana firefighters met with U.S. Sen. Steve Daines Friday at Missoula’s Neptune Aviation. They were there to discuss legislation the Montana Republican is poised to introduce when Congress reconvenes next week. One bill focuses on firefighter classification.
Montana Public Radio

Trump threatens to cut millions from fire departments in California after deadly wildfires

Officials in California are crying foul over a Trump administration plan to slash firefighting assistance payments to the state, which could amount to millions of dollars in lost income for fire departments. The U.S. Forest Service, in turn, is accusing the local fire departments in the state of over-billing the federal government as part of a federal-state partnership, the California Fire Assistance Agreement (CFAA), that was inked in 2015 and expires in 2020. The disagreement between state and federal fire officials now threatens to upend negotiations to extend that agreement, which state Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Marshall said is essential to combat not just wildfires, but other natural disasters in California. “Local government fire departments respond across jurisdictional boundaries every day,” Marshall told McClatchy. “We cannot afford for this agreement to expire, that would have a devastating effect on the California wildfire system.”
The Tribune

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