Wildland Fire News

Friday, April 3, 2020

National Interagency Fire Center releases prediction for wildfire potential, April through July

Today there is a bit of good news for anyone worried about how firefighters will control wildfires during the current coronavirus pandemic. The wildfire potential outlook issued by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) on March 1 predicted that the coastal areas of Central and Southern California would have above average conditions for April, but that changed in a new outlook released today. As indicated in the Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook map, there are no areas in the United States with forecasts for above normal wildfire activity in April. That is expected to change in May with enhanced potential in southeast Arizona and south Florida. Then in June portions of northeast California and the southern areas of Nevada and Utah will be added to the list. In July firefighters could be busy in Washington, Oregon, and northern California.
Wildfire Today

Prescribed burns are canceled in Utah and across the West as coronavirus meets wildfire season

Fire managers across Utah and the West have canceled prescribed burns, postponed training and are making plans for how to fight wildfires in the age of the coronavirus. The virus is interrupting Utah’s four-year plan with $20 million from the federal government to reduce the risk wildfires pose to communities. Spring is prime time for prescribed burns — setting fires to reduce excessive tree and grass growth — but the U.S. Forest Service on March 17 instituted a nationwide pause on the practice. “Anytime that you do prescribed burning, you put smoke into the air,” said Alyse Sharpe, spokeswoman for the Forest Service’s regional field office in Ogden. “We want to prevent any effects from smoke that might further worsen conditions for those who are at risk in our communities while reducing exposure for employees who might not otherwise need to travel.” Sharpe said prescribed burns will be reconsidered later in April.
The Salt Lake Tribune

Stanford researchers forecast longer, more extreme wildfire seasons in California

In California, a changing climate has made autumn feel more like summer, with hotter, drier weather that increases the risk of longer, more dangerous wildfire seasons, according to a new Stanford-led study. The paper, published in Environmental Research Letters, provides insights that could inform more effective risk mitigation, land management and resource allocation. “Many factors influence wildfire risk, but this study shows that long-term warming, coupled with decreasing autumn precipitation, is already increasing the odds of the kinds of extreme fire weather conditions that have proved so destructive in both northern and southern California in recent years,” said study senior author Noah Diffenbaugh, the Kara J Foundation professor at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.
Stanford University

Nevada: Crews contain wildfire at Wetlands Park in east Las Vegas valley

Crews have contained a wildfire that broke out late Wednesday in Wetlands Park in the east valley, according to a fire official. Multiple calls came in just before 11:20 p.m. about a fire at the park, said Assistant Fire Chief Larry Haydu with the Clark County Fire Department. The first crews to arrive found the fire burning in an area considered inaccessible, and they requested help from the Bureau of Land Management. The park's walking path was able to contain the fire, and crews worked to reinforce the perimeter as it burned about 10 acres, according to Haydu. As of 4:50 a.m. Thursday, Haydu said the fire was contained, but active fires were still burning inside the perimeter. Crews from the BLM and Nevada Division of Forestry would stay on scene through the day, and another hand crew would come in at daybreak to help with mop-up, Haydu said.
KSNV-TV NBC 3 Las Vegas

Coronavirus fears extinguish open burns in parts of central Maine

On Wednesday, Gardiner Fire Chief Al Nelson issued a ban on open fires in the city and said no burn permits will be issued. Some years, dry spring conditions can shut down open burns, but this year halting the spread of coronavirus, the highly infectious virus that causes COVID-19, is also a factor. Not every municipality has shut down spring burns, but as the number of burn permits issued is spiking, local and state fire officials are keeping a sharp eye on conditions. Nelson said the trigger for him was a 5-acre brush fire in South Gardiner on March 21, an indication that fast-changing conditions could cause controlled burns to spread. “The other piece of that was in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions and distancing, I had to call mutual aid, and I had 30-plus firefighters working close to each other to put the fire out,” he said.
Sun Journal

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Interior Improves Strategies to Combat Wildfires across 223 million acres in the Great Basin

Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed a final decision to construct and maintain a system of up to 11,000 miles of strategically placed fuel breaks to control wildfires within a 223 million-acre area in portions of California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Local Bureau of Land Management district and field offices will use manual, chemical and mechanical treatments, including prescribed fire, seeding and targeted grazing, to construct fuel breaks along roads and rights-of-way on BLM-administered lands. The fuel breaks will minimize new disturbance and wildlife habitat fragmentation and maximize accessibility for wildland firefighters. “This is a major step in fulfilling the President’s commitment to western communities by implementing more effective wildfire treatments that will better protect Americans, their property and their lands,” said Secretary Bernhardt.
U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management

Fire analyst: Washington state to experience calm fire season, most fire activity expected in Columbia Basin

With coronavirus spreading like wildfire, it’s good to know that we won’t see that many literal wildfires this spring and summer, according to one expert. On Wednesday, Northwest Interagency Coordination Center Fire Analyst Tim Klukas told iFIBER ONE News what to expect with the fire season time frame fast-approaching. Klukas made a key assertion saying that the end of 2019 and start of 2020 did not have the “drought signature” seen prior to the 2018 wildfire season. Wildfires were a near-daily problem in mid-2018 throughout north central Washington. 2019 was a definitive contrast to 2018 with far fewer wildfires. Klukas says 2020’s wildfire season will likely be weaker than 2019. At this time in 2019, Klukas mentioned that he and his counterparts were expecting another severe wildfire season, but that didn’t happen. This year, he’s expecting the opposite.

Officials at Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest implement emergency fire restrictions and campfire ban

Fire officials at the Apalachicola National Forest are implementing a Fire Restriction Emergency Closure Order that will ban all fires or campfires on the entire forest due to high drought index and lack of rain. Officials say this order is effective starting April 2 to July 31, due to the unseasonably high drought index and lack of rain the forest will experience. The purpose of the Fire Restriction Emergency Closure Order is to protect the health and safety of the public and natural resources. The order prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire on any and all compartments, lands and waters on the forest. Using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), forest officials determined the fire danger on the Apalachicola National Forest is high with the potential for extreme fire danger as minimal precipitation is forecasted for the foreseeable future.
WTXL-TV ABC 27 Tallahassee

Los Alamos Fire Department Wildland Fuels Reduction Mitigation Project Gets Underway in New Mexico

Los Alamos Fire Department will begin work this week on an important wildfire fuels reduction project that will provide much-needed mitigation in several areas of Los Alamos. LAFD has received grant funding for the project, which will include the following areas: Ponderosa Estates Range Road, North Horse Stable Bench, Walnut Bench, Villa Bench, Lower Loma Linda, Camino Redondo and Camino Uva. Starting Thursday, April 2nd, LAFD crews along with crews from Santa Fe County will begin mitigation work in the North Horse Stable Bench area, which includes marking trees to be thinned, chainsaw work and the use of chippers. Residents may hear noise and see activity in the forested areas near this area while work is underway.
Los Alamos Reporter

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