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July 31, 2007

14,000 + Wildland Firefighters Working 35 Fires


According to the morning report from the National Incident Information Center,

There are;

" Currently, 35 fires and complexes over 500 acres in size. Yesterday there was one new fire over 500 acres and one was contained."

Resources Committed

  • Crews (20 persons) 315
  • Engines (5 persons) 645
  • Helicopters (7 persons) 138
  • Overhead (individuals) 3751
  • Airtankers 19
  • Total Personnel 14,280


July 28, 2007

More on Heroes Matt Burton and Scott Desmond

Jason of Hamptons Fire Blog blogs the story of the tragic loss of Capt. Matt Burton and Fire Engineer Scott Desmond of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.


July 24, 2007

Feds. Need To Re-Think Killing The 747 Super Tanker

You have to scratch your head in amazement as to why the feds KILLED this project. Is it possible they did not want their budgets impacted by the effectiveness of this amazing tool? When you watch this Evergreen promo video notice the one item missed by them, firefighter safety! Maybe because it's obvious to them. I wonder if the decision makers who told Evergreen NO THANKS considered firefighter deaths and injuries in their equations.
This tool would save lives and it's a shame the project was shut down.

Thank God the CDF, Cal Fire saw the light and signed the DC-10 SuperTanker


July 23, 2007

Captain Matt Burton & Eng. Scott Desmond, Fallen Heroes

SFGate.com reports

"Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Capt. Matt Burton, 34, of Concord, Fire Engineer Scott Desmond, 37, of Brentwood, and residents Delbert Moore, 67, and Gayle Moore, 62, died in the blaze at the couple's ranch-style, one-story home on Michele Drive in the Montalvin Manor neighborhood, authorities said.

The firefighters had managed to pull one victim from the home and were trying to find the other person when they were caught in a "flashover,..."

"...Burton, a firefighter for more than 10 years, was married and had two children. Desmond leaves behind his wife of three years, Carolyn, and their 17-month-old son, Tyler. Desmond was usually based at an Antioch fire station. On Saturday, he and Burton were assigned to the San Pablo station, said fire Capt. Bob Atlas.

"Scott was my best friend," said Atlas, who graduated with Desmond in the same county fire-academy class eight years ago. "He was a tremendous individual with phenomenal skills. Everybody liked him. I don't think there was a single person that didn't have a great comment to say about him. He was a salt-of-the-earth guy."

The firefighters' deaths underscore the dangers they face on the job, Atlas said. "There's no question this is an extremely dangerous job," he said. "When we take our oath to do our job, this is something we love to do. We want to help people. He died trying to make this a better world."



Murphy Complex Fire Satelite View

Image from NASA Earth Observatory

"This image of the Murphy Complex Fire was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on July 22. Places where the sensor detected actively burning fire are outlined in red. The dry grassland and sagebrush terrain appears olive-tan, while the sprawling burned area appears deep brown."

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Murphy Complex Fire

"The Rowland Fire and Elk Mountain Fire have now combined into one fire known as the Murphy Complex. A California Interagency Incident Management Team has taken control of the incident to relieve local resources to be made available for the potential of other fires in the area. Evacuation orders are still in place for residents of Jarbidge, Murphy Hot Springs and the Mountain Home Air Force Training Range. Twelve hand crews, 28 engines, and 11 dozers with overhead staff and air support are working in fire supression. There are approximately 1,300 citizens in numerous small communities without power." Information from Inciweb.org

Hawkins Type I Team
is on the Murphy Complex (ID-TFD-2030)

Personnel: 488
Acreage: 511,000
Containment: 10%
Projected acreage: 1,000,000

Incident 209 information is updated slightly from the Inciweb info above including:

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.

Firefighter and Public Safety. Several communities remain under a mandatory evacuation order within the fire area. Power remains out to several communities (approx.1300 citizens) in Northern Nevada and Southern Idaho due to the loss of a 69KV power transmission line. A major concern remains for the north portion of the fire impacting the Mountain Home AirForce Training Range; which is considered to be the most important training range in America for the United States AirForce. There are numerous ranches on private lands and most of the fire area on both BLM and FS lands are grazing allotments. There is little initial attack capability in the area until current resources assigned to the fire are replaced."

"Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?

Seven to Fourteen days!

I'll update as information becomes available.

Image: NOAA Satellite

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July 21, 2007

Off Topic; Animal World Drama

Humans can learn something from this water buffalo herd.


July 20, 2007

Current Large Fire Map

NIIC Current Fire Map, Over 500 Acres
Click to expand

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July 18, 2007

Inyo Complex Fire Photo Journal

Fantastic fire photo journal Holding On To Independence put together by residents of Independence California following the Inyo Complex Wildfire.

A crew from Neptune Aviation Services laid down a key drop that contributed to saving the lives of two CDF engines crews.

Image Neptune Aviation Services


July 15, 2007

Cal Fire Chief Endorses DC-10 Supertanker

In a recent edition of his Chief's memo California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ruben Grijalva discusses in detail why he signed a three year contract for use of the DC-10 Supertanker, Tanker 910.

The Chief writes at length why he supports this all important firefighting weapon. Here are a few key highlights from his memo.

"in July of 2006, due to intense fire activity in southern California, an evaluation team was formed to determine the feasibility of incorporating the DC-10 into the fire action plan. After an evaluation process, it was determined that the DC-10 could be deployed safely and effectively. A Call When Needed (CWN) contract...."

What they found;

"The DC-10 laid down a continuous line of retardant more than fifty feet wide and .7 to .8 miles long per drop. It would require ten to twelve drops from the S2T to equal the length, and extreme accuracy from the pilots to match the continuity of line. The probability of gaps in the S2T line is very high and the width of the DC-10s drop could not be duplicated..."

Feds refuse to add to their aging fleet;
(See Feds. Kill 747 Supertanker)

"The necessity for this added resource is made more critical with the reduction in availability of the Federal Large Air Tanker (LAT) fleet. Since 2002, the number of LATs has been reduced from 44 to the current level of 18 aircraft. This is a 63% reduction. We are not aware of any planned relief for this shortage in the near future..."

Fire killer;

"The DC-10 drops .7 to .8 miles of retardant per drop, if the aircraft is deployed for a 7 hour day with just one drop per hour, it can directly protect or encircle 2,265 Acres per day..."

Al Gore and his crowd will embrace Tanker 910;

"... the amount of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions that were produced by State fires last year was over 5 million metric tons.....the savings on gas emissions achieved by dispatching the DC-10, the same 1/3 ration was used. That would be 1.5 million metric ton savings for the State and a 6 million ton savings overall. "


"The potential benefits directly to the State by utilization of the DC-10 is estimated at $10,000,000 in reduced fire days, $6,800,000 in saved land and timber value, 119 structures saved annually, and the reduction of 1.5 million metric tons of GHG emissions. The public safety, firefighter safety, and pilot safety issues, while not immediately measurable, may also be significant."

Fantastic news for fire ground personnel. Tanker 910 will change the way wildfires are approached. While Director Grijalva did not touch on it I am sure his people are setting up classes at the Fire Academy for line officers to discuss strategies surrounding ground crew safety and best use guidelines.

Photo attribution Cal Fire as per instructions here.
Firefighter Blog employs best practices when using photos. Please leave a comment if you feel a photo was improperly displayed.

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July 14, 2007

Zaca Fire Into Wilderness

The persistent Zaca Fire moves into the San Rafael Wilderness within the Los Padres National Forest where it could follow the same path as the Wellman Fire in 1966. As the fire heads east into the Wilderness the Feds. will take over relieving the CDF- Calfire resources. From the reports;

A plan for transitioning to a Federal IMT (Gelobter) continues to be developed. Anticipated transition date is 7/17/2007. Estimated containment dates are difficult to establish at this time because of the establishment of the fire into the Wilderness. Our projection of a minimum estimated containment date is 14 days or greater."

Efforts to quell the Zaca Fire will be further hampered as fires within a "wilderness" designated area prevents use of bulldozers and other valuable equipment like chain saws. More from the incident report.

"The fire continues in steep, rocky, and broken terrain. Some engines and crews are being spiked to improve travel times. Aircraft, handcrews, and dozers continue to be important components for successfully keeping the fire within our north and south control objectives. In order to protect wilderness values and characteristics, mechanized equipment other than chainsaws, helicopters, and air tankers are prevented from being used in the wilderness area unless it is for firefighter safety.

"The San Rafael Wilderness is especially sensitive because it is home to the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary. It's not clear how many condor's inhabit the sanctuary as there are so few in the wild but the sanctuary does place added influence on incident biologists adds additional concerns for incident command.

As mentioned the San Rafael Wilderness has seen fire before. In 1966 the Wellman Fire took over 92,000 acres. The fire started when a Cessna aircraft out of Vandenberg AFB crashed and went unreported for over a day. The area history and Wellman Fire are nicely chronicled on SB-Outdoors.org.

"A hot shot crew is helicoptered in to the top of 6,593 foot San Rafael Mountain to build a hand line from there down the north side of the mountain to White Ledge. In a small flat grass-covered saddle known as Hell's Half Acre, brush and trees are cut down so that the helicopters can land with fresh troops. Scores of pumpers and hundreds of firefighters are strung out along Figueroa Mountain Road and the Figueroa Catway from Cachuma Saddle to Zaca Peak. They do not wait passively. Now that they have a secure line that can be held with confidence, the backfiring begins. While the firefighters fan out near the brush to make sure that the flames don't turn back on them, the butane torches are put to work. From the Santa Ynez Valley the first glow of orange-red is frightening; they are sure the fire has broken through.

The backfires, despite their ominous look, are successful in securing this line.
Bombers hammer both the Sierra Madre and San Rafael ridgelines, making scores of drops on each of them from the Cuyama Airport. The heavy bombers make mincemeat of the airport runway, this threatening to ground the planes. But in the night 30,000 square feet of metal landing strip are brought in from Port Hueneme during the night and it is usable again by morning.

The hot shots work their way up into the hottest part of the fire and are able to get above it near McKinley Mountain. While they hack away stubbornly, cutting through the trees and brush at a furious pace, the towering flames lick at their heels. Airdrops put down on top of them help to knock down the fire. There is no time to sleep, and with no place to sleep anyway, the Hot Shots work throughout the night, twenty hours straight, reaching a jeepway connecting with Santa Cruz Peak just after dawn.
Wednesday morning, from Santa Ynez Airport Forest Service Supervisor Bill Hansen confers with Fire Boss Carl Hickerson. In contrast to last night's spectacular flames which burned along the entire western crest of the San Rafael Mountains, that morning all that remain are long plumes of smoke. "On one side, everything was mantled with a velvety-green and the big pines stood thick over the mountainsides,"News-Press reporter Dick Smith says as he surveys the previous night's damage from the air. "On the other, an ashen-gray pallor lay over the land, covering both sides of the Sisquoc, the Hurricane Deck, and surrounding Cachuma Mountain. At Wellman Canyon, where the fire got its night start the wreckage of the plane that caused it could be spotted glinting in the sun."

Coincidentally the Zaca Fire has 2100 fire personnel assigned to the incident, the same number as the Wellman fire 41 years ago. As the fire moves into wilderness the the Zaca command will be reduced to the same firefighting tactics as the Wellman bosses. One tactic shared by both managers is the use of "spiked" strike teams and crews. Spiking crews generally means because of accessibility issues it makes more sense to leave crews on the line where they can break themselves. As they did on the Wellman helicopters resupply spiked forces.

*One tool unavailable to Wellman Fire boss Dick Smith is 10 Tanker, for whatever reason the tool is not in play for the Zaca Unified Command.

Zaca Fire images page from Inciweb.
Map attribution, Inciweb.org.

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July 13, 2007

Franklin Fire 183 Acres, $354,000.00, Why?

"Short Location Description (in reference to nearest town):
7 miles @ 330 deg. from town of Iditarod"

The Franklin Fire 183 acres in size, burning seven miles from Iditarod Alaska no spread, no urgency, why bother? Not being familiar with local weather, terrain or fuel conditions it's difficult to judge if the expense and effort to actively fight this fire was necessary or prudent.

Another Alaska incident , The Big Creek Fire has consumed 3,500 acres and as of today is 50% contained. According to fire records the fire remotely located;

"Short Location Description (in reference to nearest town):
10 miles South East Ruby, Alaska"

No costs estimates on the larger blaze but you have to know with 175 total personnel, 45 of which are overhead that this is a costly, maybe over $1,000,000.

The Fed. Active Fire Page shows a couple of blazes in the Mollie Beattie Wilderness that are burning 61 miles or more from the nearest town. No information is to be found anywhere on these incidents, if you want to call them that so I'll assume they are left to burn.

I'm not in a position to say which Alaska wildfires should be suppressed or left to burn. A close friend reminded me Alaska forest managers keep a lid on these remote fires to prevent a repeat of the 2004 Alaska fire season that claimed over 6 million acres.

I don't know where the environmentalists stand on this issue of burn or suppress. Firefighters want to fight fire no matter where it is and I understand that but there is a balance and some forests should be allowed to evolve naturally and that means at least some fires must be allowed to burn. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a great page on the subject of living with fire.

Finally I want to add these Alaska firefighters are dealing with elements us here in the lower 48 don't often think about. Fire is only part of the danger equation;


July 10, 2007

Inyo Complex Threat Contained, Demob Begins

Source, National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Inyo Complex Wildfire

35,176 ACRES 80% Containment

Expected Containment
Date: 07/11/2007

"The threat to power and water lines (aqueduct and DWP) that supply the Eastern Sierra Front and greater Los Angeles area has abated, but the potential remains a possibility. Forecasted LAL of 6 presents concerns to the west firelines due to potential increased activity.

The Inyo Complex consists of the Seven/ Oak and Sage fires. The incident is managed under a unified command (CALFIRE/ Thompson). DEMOB of excess resources is occurring as long as conditions remain favorable. Very good progress made towards containment. An anticipated areawide weather event may compromise the containment efforts."

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July 09, 2007

Inyo Complex Wildfire Threat Diminishes

Source FamWeb.gov. Taken in part from incident 209 forms.

Size/Area Involved
37,403 ACRE

% Contained
55 Percent

Expected Containment

Today's observed fire behavior (leave blank for non-fire events):
Interior torching with isolated runs during burning period but moderated fire behavior due to lighter winds. Fuel beds remain highly receptive to ignition.

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
Independence water system sustained significant damage that State and County Officials continue to mitigate. No evacuations; State Hwy 395 remains open.

Projected Final Size:

Actions planned for next operational period:
Continue Community protection, perimeter control, and containment efforts.

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.

Scattered ranches remain threatened near the communities of Independence and Big Pine. Interior burning with torching occurred. The threat to power and water lines (aqueduct and DWP) that supply the Eastern Sierra Front and greater Los Angeles area has abated, but the potential remains a possibility.

Inyo Complex consists of the Seven / Oak Fire (29567 acres) and the Sage Fire (7836 acres). The Incident remains in Unified Command (CalFire / Thompson). Very good progress was made towards containment efforts on both fires. Lighter winds and slightly cooler temperatures moderated fire behavior. An IR flight is planned for today at 0730 to obtain more accurate fire perimeters. Some areas may be open to residents at 1000 hrs today.

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Inyo Complex Wildfire

According to CalFire current incident page the fire is 55% contained and had consumed over 34,000 acres.

CDF/CalFire and the Forest Service refer visitors to Inciweb.org for specific information however Inciweb has apparently crashed due to demand. Growing pains no doubt but they should have anticipated the growing hunger for fire news online!

The The Inyo Register in Bishop tells me to expect a full reporting of the incident on their site tomorrow.

ABC30 Fresno reports three injured firefighters from the Inyo Complex were flown in for treatment but fail to follow up on the severity of injuries or current condition of the firefighters. The article also had a fantastic hyped title about Independence being evacuated that begged for more detail. Who wrote that copy and how are those firefighters?
Their disclaimer:
Copyright KFSN-TV, www.abc30.com, and myabc30.com. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without explicit written permission.
No need to worry.

Firefighter Blog Inyo Complex Fire Archive

Update on injured firefighters. KCRA Sacramento reports;

"The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is investigating an incident Saturday afternoon that resulted in
minor injuries to three firefighters. At around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, three firefighters were injured and taken to the Fresno Burn Center by helicopter while fighting the fire line of the Inyo Complex near Independence. The three were assigned to two engines working together.When the fire became critical, all nine firefighters from both engine units deployed their fire shelters. One of the engines was destroyed."

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Milford Flats Fire 300k Acres 0% Containment

ABC4 Utah offers amazing video of the Milford Flats Fire that includes footage of the shell of an 18 wheeler devoured by flames on Interstate 15 near Cove Fort.

From the reporters;

"As of Sunday evening, fire crews had the fire zero percent contained, while high winds and dry grasses continued to fuel the blaze."

The video includes a discussion by fire officials of concerns about reburn, where the fire doubles back on itself feeding on unburned fuel.

Most recent update from Utah Fire Info.

"Structures Threatened: Approximately 330 scattered structures threatened. One summer home (uninhabited) and two outbuildings were burned.

Resources: 200+ firefighters (additional crews ordered and arriving throughout the day), 2 single-engine air tankers, 2 heavy helicopters, 12 engines, 3 water tenders, 2 dozers. Additional crews and resources on order. The Muir National Management Team assumed management of the fire Monday morning at 0600. The Incident Command Post in located in the Kanosh town park."


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Nice Interactive Fire Map Features at Utah Fire Info

With so many fires burning in Utah it's nice to be able to turn to a site like UtahFireInfo.gov. One click on the interactive map and visitors are taken to individual fire information sites like the giant Milford Flat Fire or any one of the smaller fires burning in the state such as the Ant Fire, Neola North Fire, Jungle Fire, Black Rock Gulch, M&M or Slide Fires.


July 08, 2007

Current National Large Fires Map

Details at National Incident Information Center


Western States Fire Activity Overview

A tertiary summary of the current fire situation in the Western States from AP News via Yahoo! News.

"HOT SPRINGS, S.D. - One of dozens of fires across the West raced out of a canyon in South Dakota's Black Hills "with a vengeance" on Sunday, killing a homeowner and destroying 27 homes, authorities said.

Residents of about 50 homes had fled the wildfire near Hot Springs, which also injured two firefighters and closed a section of a state highway, state and federal officials said. An area of roughly 9 square miles has burned since the fire was sparked Saturday by lightning.

One person was killed trying to retrieve possessions from a home. The person's identity was withheld until relatives could be notified, authorities said.

Gov. Mike Rounds toured the area Sunday and noted that the trees around some houses were charred but the dwellings were intact.

"I don't know how in the world you saved some of those homes," he told firefighters at an evening briefing.

More than two dozen homes had no damage because of a high-tech gel made of water-filled bubbles.

High wind near Wenatchee, Wash., overnight spread a brush fire that threatened homes. By Sunday morning, 250 to 270 homes had been evacuated, and at least three outbuildings were destroyed.

In fire-swept Nevada, about 1,500 evacuees from Winnemucca
were allowed home hours after a wildfire destroyed an electrical substation and several outbuildings, shut down Interstate 80, delayed trains, and killed livestock. No injuries were reported....

A fire in Arizona burned at the base of a mountain that is home to several expensive telescopes. A spokesman at Kitt Peak told KSAZ-TV that he was concerned but not alarmed. Tankers were dropping retardant between the fire and the observatory, the station reported.

In Utah, the largest wildfire in state history grew to 283,000 acres on Sunday. The blaze has swept through about 442 square miles of extremely dry sagebrush, cheat grass and pinion juniper in central Utah.

"This fire just ran away from us, and we couldn't put a dent in it," said Mike Melton, fire management officer for Utah's Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands......

Other fires blackened the landscape in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

Quick-moving flames burned through more than 53 square miles in California's Inyo National Forest, skirting the popular John Muir Wilderness north of Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. At least one home was destroyed....

A 45,000-acre fire in Idaho was contained Saturday, officials said. Crews on Sunday raced to repair fire-damaged transmission lines that threatened rotating power failures."

*Thanks to my Brisbane Australia based friend Ross Bradley for sending me this link.


Adrenaline Rush Just Watching

From the YouTube page of Larry R. Erickson. This is a fantastic fire line video from the Summit Valley Oak Hills Brushfire in March 2007. Please notice the homes with requisite defensible space.

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Inyo Complex Wildfire Photos

Inyo Complex Wildfire images with permission Steven Bourelle, SierraVisions

Gates Of Hell

It looks like Inciweb is down (again) and updated information is unavailable.


Inyo Complex Triples As Resources Thin Statewide

Check out the satellite imagery from NOAA. Notice the Plumas Fire and Inyo Complex Wildfire areas. It's not all smoke but the imagery is interesting.

The Inyo Complex Wildfire doubled again during the last shift according to the most recent update from Inciweb.

The report shows no new personnel were added to the incident in spite of the the rapid growth and anticipated spread of the two blazes. Fires elsewhere, Zaca and Plumas are drawing state resources. Forest Service and BLM people are spread out in Utah and Nevada.

Image FireMapper/USDA.gov


July 07, 2007

LA Times Comes Up Short & Late On Inyo Complex

The LA Times decided to cover the Inyo Complex Wildfire a day late but they made up for the lack of timeliness by throwing three journalists on the one page of copy. Read the epic story here.

{"3 Wildfires Close 100 Miles Of U.S. 395

Holiday travelers face traffic tie-ups as lightning-sparked blazes burn unchecked in the eastern Sierra, forcing evacuations.
By Julie Cart, Rong-Gong Lin II and Scott Gold, Times Staff Writers
7:13 PM PDT, July 7, 2007"}

Old news and better late than never but the subject of their article necessitated haste for those affected by the closing of Highway 395. Times readers with families returning to Los Angeles from points North might have used the news to advise their traveling loved ones to seek an alternate route.

Compare the works of the three well paid journalists to the efforts of the blog team at Inciweb or the one man effort at Cal Fire News Blog.

I touched on the subject of newspapers vs. blog coverage of fires with local interest here. We are quickly closing in on a day that blogs will be the readers choice for breaking news that matters.


Two More Firefighter Blogs Added To The Roll

Deaf Firefighter Blog About the Author;

"This is the diary of a deaf man is becoming a volunteer firefighter (aka. Jake). My name is Neil and I started at the Fire Department of Montgomery Township in August of 2003. I’ve started this blog to chronicle my experiences, my achievements and my mistakes (probably more of the latter) so others can learn from them."

Neil is one of the first Firefighter Bloggers. Read his Father's Day post, his kids are lucky lads.

Firefighter Hourly About the Author;

"Jay Lowry has written for Fire Engineering, Fire Chief, American Fire Journal and other major fire service journals as well as magazines covering aviation, safety, and construction. He is a past or present Principal Member of 4 National Fire Protection Association Committees .

Prior to the fire service he served as a Fast Action Situation Team Member on board nuclear submarines where his collateral duties were to plan and coordinate responses to fires and flooding. Jay began as a volunteer firefighter and transitioned to a paid department serving from firefighter to Fire Marshal."

Wow, Jay hit the ground running with almost a dozen posts in the first week. This is a very slick blog and most likely a prototype for firefighter Blogs in the future.

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Inyo Complex Wildfire Races

Inciweb reports news of the rapidly growing Inyo Complex Wildfire comprised of the Sage Fire at 5,000 acres and the now merged Oak and Seven Fires that together have claimed a total of 12,000 acres. Just under 500 fire personnel are on the fires at the moment with more en route.
Structures threatened, this one bears watching but don't expect the national news to get wrapped up in this one, it's just not sexy enough and that's a shame.

Continuous coverage from Cal Fire News.

Image from Inyo National Forest

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July 06, 2007

Inyo Complex Wildland Fire, 4000 Acres, Running

Report from Inciweb.org on the lightning caused Inyo Complex outside Independence California.


A thunder and lightning storm moved quickly through the Eastern Sierra Friday afternoon, July 6, 2007,igniting approximately 10 fires being managed as the Inyo Complex. As of 6:00 pm Friday evening, the three biggest fires are:1)The Oak Fire burning up the north fork of Oak Creek out of Independence. 2) The Seven Fire in the Seven Pines area up Independence Creek out of Independence. 3) The Sage Fire up Big Pine Canyon in the vicinity of Upper Sage Flat Campground.

The following areas have been evacuated: Oak Creek Campground, Lower Grey's Meadow Campground, Onion Valley Campground, Seven Pines and Glacier Lodge.

Independence is where Copter Chick Desiree Horton is stationed. Her bird and crew were assigned to the Zaca Fire near Santa Barbara yesterday according to her recent blog post. It's tough to be away from your home station when an incident breaks out.
From a personal perspective I'll add the smoke from the fires near Independence is blanketing the West side of the Sierras. It's odd seeing smoke from the East side of the range over here. 110 degrees here in the California Central Valley and the weather on the eastern slope of the Sierras is almost as bad with no let up in the near term forecast.

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July 01, 2007

Expect To See More Of This

California's Tulare County has assumed fire protection control from CDF(Cal Fire). According to The Fresno Bee;

"Fire and county officials have spent 18 months creating a department they say will save the county about $1 million a year. The move also gives the Board of Supervisors control over labor negotiations.

Building a department in less than two years is no small feat. Tasks ranged from monumental -- hiring more than 80 fire officers and chiefs -- to mundane -- developing an employee handbook...."

"...Cal Fire firefighters pleaded with the county to maintain its contract. Many claimed savings figures were exaggerated and the county would struggle to retain employees because it couldn't compete with state pay."

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CalFire Blog, Raw, Breaking Fire News

If you want the best up to the minute fire news, links and images click over and bookmark California Fire News. The blog is firefighter operated and is packed with fire information.

In his own words;

"California Fire News - Breaking Fire News And Photos From California and around The World - Firefighting related News Stories

California Fire News
- Breaking Fire News And Photos From California and around The World - Firefighting News Stories with a focus on delivering up to date California Fire incident news in a real fire line format, mixed with a hometown feel featuring local Firefighter related news articles and of course the inside scoop from sources all over the State of California.
California Fire News finds the stunning photos, field reports, the hard facts delivered without embellishments."

More than once during the Angora Fire I found myself consulting the site for up to the minute maps and briefing re posts. Great resource!


CDF Website: 100 Feet Defensible Space

Great page on the CDF Website. From that overview site check out the Homeowners Checklist Page and check out the interactive visuals linked on the bottom of the page.

"The CDF Homeowners Checklist is your tool for fire safety inside and outside your home. Print it out and use it as a handy guide to check safety measures room by room. Then head outside and make sure you have taken all possible precautions against wildfire."

Some of the 220 plus homes lost to the Angora Fire might still be standing if homeowners had taken appropriate preventative measures. (Tahoe Regional Planning Board be damned).
It's really not a tree hugging issue as much as the safety of fire personnel and saving personal possessions.


Incident Blogging, What The Angora Fire Showed Us

The Angora Fire at Lake Tahoe sent tens of thousands of searchers to the web searching for information on the fire. Nothing new, it's where we go for breaking news, fresh information and photos.

What's new is how search engines are appreciating blogs and promoting some to the front page of the search results. Last week searchers seeking updates, maps and general information on the Angora Fire were served results mixed from local or national news agency websites and Blogs.

Firefighter Blog stood next to CNN.com and FoxNews.com on query terms like "Angora Fire Map", "Angora Fire" and "Lake Tahoe Fire". For the term "Angora Fire Map" Firefighter Blog held the top spot for a time on Google and MSN. Thousands visited daily and what they saw was a map of the fire, links to the map source, videos and links out to the news agencies with reporters on the ground.

In previous fire seasons blogs were relegated to blog search engine results on the back pages. Searchers had to be a bit more sophisticated to get the fresh information blogs provided, few searched there and that's a shame. Some of the best and most interesting information comes from persons blogging with insider perspective. One Lake Tahoe resident blogged on the fire coming towards his street, he described the wind, the ash and the general feel in his neighborhood. That's one way blogs are useful, providing front line personal observation.

Firefighter Blog and Cal-Fire Blog are not so much personal but oriented more for fact gathering for quick display. The thousands of visits both sites received from this incident prove there is a thirst for quick info. Now that the search engines are appreciating blogs we have to ask where does incident blogging go from here?

Incident command teams, like ICT 6 might employ a full time incident blogger. Who better knows the incident? The public information officer on most incidents generally comes out at varied times daily but that is not nearly enough information for a news hungry world.

FEMA CERT teams might want to consider adding a blogger as well.

Mainstream media outlets will have to adopt the term "blogger" at least to some extent. The most comprehensive news media source for the Angora Fire was the running commentary from the Tahoe Daily Tribune. They provided great "updates", sometimes hourly but each new update was archives as "past articles" that required too much mouse activity. It was a blog but they did not want to call it that. Stubborn old media! Old media must accept the term "blogger" is not a slur.

We are close to a point where blogging is becoming a go-to media for news hungry readers. I see the day when on scene blogs are consulted first by people seeking fresh information. Unless mainstream media gets with it they may find themselves viewed as Johnny-come-lately or worse a repository of old news.

Post update; Surfing the net about this subject I came across an interesting article from Editor & Publisher commenting on fire coverage by The Tahoe Daily Tribune.