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September 28, 2007

Cal Fire Hiring Firefighters and Fire Apparatus Engineers

Want to become a member of the greatest wildland firefighting force in the world?

Job listings for Firefighter

Job listing for Fire Apparatus Engineer

Final filing date: November 8, 2007

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September 27, 2007

Halo 3 Has Invaded My Front Room

My two teenagers are video game fanatics. My high school junior has waited for the release of Halo 3 since the release of Halo 2 so Tuesday was a big day in our house. Since I don't play video games the significance of the day was lost on me.

My motto is as long as they get straight A's and manage homework I feed their video game entertainment appetite, I just don't need to understand it all.

So 10:00 am Tuesday we (mom and dad) are in a line of about 40 adults and assorted 20 somethings standing outside Game Stop to pick up our pre-ordered Halo 3 game. The line was 9 to 1 guys to women. The only women in line were moms picking the game up for their sons.

Freshman son gets home an hour before Junior son so he tore into the package, took the XBox 360 into his room and began playing on his little 12 inch tv monitor. I warned him when his older brother comes home there will be a Halo 4 battle in the house if he refuses to give it up. "No problem Dad," he knew the consequences.

When I picked up older son from school he could not wait to get home. Days before he asked me if he could use the big screen in the living room the first few days after Halo 3 arrived. Sure I said.

Gets home, secures Xbox 360 from brother's room and begins transforming the front room and the 58" Mitsubishi. Halo 3 is best played with an Internet connection but for some reason the wireless network in the home doesn't work on our XBox Live so he ran a 20 foot cable to the box from the router.

I watched with amazement as whiz kid set up the game with lightning quick reflexes, settings, names, registration, blah blah blah.

Now down to the game. He checks to see if his comrades from afar are on board, he has a headset and is barking out ideas with the friends on line.

By the way there are 661,600 other players online at the very moment he is starting.

The action begins and while I'm doing my computer stuff I am watching the action on the TV screen beyond and it's nothing short of amazing. The graphics are near real like, damn cool, but to the kids it's just background, they are there for one reason, one reason only, and that's to kill.

They enter zones like forests and deserts and while I'm totally taken aback by the art of the sets the players are blind to the graphics. It's just a setting to them. Not once did I hear "can you believe this scenery?"
By 9:00 pm the game is moved to his room to the 32 inch Sony we retired from front room duty years ago. Can't get Internet back there from the wireless so he's on his own but it's no deterrent.
11:30 still at it and he's shut down. Day one of battle is complete, the soldier sleeps.

Day two after school, "Dad, can I use the big TV until 6?" Ok I say, besides I'm liking the opening music with this pretty cool Benedictine monk chanting. Back to battling with the online friends but I'm tiring as it's only about killing and shooting.

Years ago my kids advised me they had no intentions of becoming actual mass murderers. It's their entertainment, they read, get A's and figure the game play is the reward. It could be worse, they could be watching MTV so this is the lessor of evils I tell myself.

So the battle for control of the front room is on.

I admit I tried Second Life and found it kind of fun but there was too much lag and when I teleported from one world to the next I really didn't know up from down. In fact I was stuck in space for 10 minutes once and was spinning around when someone from the ground came up and asked if I was alright. How did I know? So when I got down she (presumably a she) asked me to follow her to her place. Not understanding jack about the game I followed and she sits on a chair and says sit down. How the hell do you sit, I had no clue then she/he went on to say isn't this a great apartment.

This is fun?

I left never to return.

I prefer Yahoo! chess or a poker tournament now and then.

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September 21, 2007

Sponsor Seeking A Worthy Cause

Firefighter Blog is honored to welcome Ahern & Brucker Fine jewelry
as a sponsor. Ahern & Brucker Fine jewelry is producing a limited edition Firefighter ring seen here and in the image below as well as on the sidebar.

Celebrate a Tradition of Self Sacrifice and Honor

As you see in the graphic 10% of sales will go to charities that support firefighters. Ahern & Brucker has asked me to send out word that they are looking for the right charity to support.

If your department has a firefighting/firefighter based cause that needs support, or if anyone reading this can nominate a cause or foundation please email mikeswebmail @ gmail .com.

Will update once one or more charity is determined.

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Another Vanity Post?

A couple of weeks ago I responded to an interview request from Blog Interviewer. Flattered of course, I hammered out some answers in the digital interview form, sent it off and today they posted my interview.

Thank you BlogInterviewer.com


September 20, 2007

Butler II Fire Contained

The way this potentially disastrous incident was doused should act as a case study in wildland firefighting. CDF/Cal Fire and responding agencies at their best!

From CDF / Cal Fire

* Last Updated: September 20, 2007 7:00 am
* Date/Time Started: September 14, 2007 1:51 pm
* Administrative Unit: San Bernandino National Forest
* County: San Bernandino County
* Location: Northwest of Big Bear/Fawnskin
* Acres Burned:
* Containment 93% contained - 14,039 acres
* Full containment expected September 20.
* North of Big Bear
* Phone Numbers (909) 383-5688 (Butler #2 Fire Information)

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September 19, 2007

"Fusee" Frank Wildland Firefighter Topics

Direct from firefighters who battled the current blazes in Idaho the guys at Fusee hold nothing back as they discuss the Cascade Complex Wildfire, the ICP burn-by (burn over) and the efforts to save the small community of Yellow Pine.

The essential point made in the Idaho fires related series of blog posts is why put firefighters at risk to save cabins and homesteads of those that subvert (snub) defensive space ordinances.

Some excerps from their series of posts on the Idaho wildfires of 2007 (to date);

"Everyone tasked with fighting these fires reaches three basic conclusions:
1. Once these big fires become established, no amount of firefighting will stop them 'until the snows fly'.
2. We are fighting these fires because some people live in these woods, and nobody wants to be the person who burned them out, and,
3. After 50 years of saving Yellowpine, we could have paid Big Sur land prices to buy out each and every hermit between Yellowstone and Oregon, and still come out ahead."


"Most of the characters that I met in Yellowpine look like they would be happy living in the 19th century. That's fine with me, but we should recall that the West of the 1800s had no organized wildland fire suppression, and that frontier towns burned to the ground on a fairly regular basis. As much as I would hate to deprive Yellowpine's residents of an authentic historic experience (wildfire burning their town), I am even less excited about putting wildland firefighters in there to chase spotfires through hazmat shacks, ammo caches, and tire fires as the big one rolls in. [for photos of Yellowpine, click here]

Now don't get me wrong: I have nothing against people living in the hills, being off-the-grid, or collecting a personal treasure-trove of 'might-come-in-handy-someday' car parts, old trucks, snowmachines, old barrels of acid, or junk lumber. The personal junkyard is a Western Institution, and I would be a hypocrite to advocate for its abolition; just don't expect me to put my ass between your junkpile and a running wildfire."

Hear hear, take a few minutes to read this well presented material. Bookmark them and consult their work often, I will. It's refreshing to hear the guys from the trenches speaking the truth.

Don't just stop at the blog, Fusee's mission statement says it all;

"FUSEE promotes safe, ethical, and ecological wildland fire management. We inform and empower fire management workers and their citizen supporters to become torchbearers for a new paradigm in fire management." Fusee.org

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September 18, 2007

Butler II Fire, Snow Possible Later In Week

I finally found a scanner link to air and ground nets for the Butler 2 Fire. Containment is at 53% and revised acreage is around 14,000. 2,400 firefighters are assigned but the main actors on this show is air attack and their cast.
These experienced pilots worked together to choke out the fire before it could stuff Fawnskin. Make no mistake, Fawnskin would have been barbecued had it not been for the directed attack by air tankers and helicopters.

Listening to the (amazingly addictive) scanner traffic you hear the dozer operators piping in once in awhile, detectable by the clatter of their diesel engine and steel tracks. This is a familiar and welcomed sound if you are a ground slug. They generally work on slopes under 60 degrees. Hand crews cut line on the steeper slopes.
Bulldozer operators don't get a ton of credit by media but they are possibly the smartest guys on the fire line. They cut where necessary relying on intuition, mostly work alone and give the best bang for the buck than any other piece of equipment in the forest. Unsung heroes for sure. Also if a dozer is on a fire they are working! You don't catch them breaking off for a coffee fire.

Watching the evening news from Los Angeles two channels focused on one of the Fawnskin restaurants where the workers have been feeding idle (bored) structure protection engine crews free of charge day and night as a sign of appreciation.

The restaurant profiled is;
39226 North Shore Dr, Fawnskin, CA
(909) 866-5879

If I am ever in Fawnskin they have my business!

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Cascade Complex; What Happens In The Forest

.........stays in the forest?

Wildlandfire.com admin. posted the text of the official report of the Cascade Complex ICP burn over on August 12. It's a great read, what it says in part;

"On the afternoon of August 12th 2007, two individuals funded through a wildland fire resource order were moving roll-on garbage dumpsters from a spike camp. The couple was involved in a motor vehicle accident within the closure area of the Cascade Wildland Fire Complex. The accident disabled their vehicle and apparently resulted in non-life threatening injuries to both occupants. Following the accident the individuals left their vehicle and began hiking towards the Cascade Complex Incident Command Post. During or shortly before this time, the road they were on was closed due to fire activity. While hiking along the closed road, the individuals were overrun by the wildland fire. The individuals took shelter from the fire in or near a culvert. It does not appear that either individual was injured by the fire. Several hours later the couple was discovered along the same road by other contractors who then transported them out of the fire area........

For reasons unknown at this time, the
facts surrounding this entrapment were not reported to the Washington Office until September 13, 2007.

On August 13th the Cascade Complex Incident Command Team implemented a Stay-In-Place plan as the Cascade wildland fire burned around their Incident Command Post. The Stay-In-Place plan, the decision to implement the plan and the decision to remain in place for several days following the event resulted in several unintended consequences including the fact that
numerous individuals were subjected to elevated levels smoke and carbon monoxide resulting in acute respiratory symptoms and illness."

You can see the offending smoke and action about the camp as the fire made its run in this PDF photo essay compiled by the Great Basin National Incident Command Team there at the time.
You can see the non fire personnel with paper air filters over their mouth sitting in the middle of the camp in one image.

I find it interesting this report is not posted on Inciweb, but that would only happen if the incident command team places it there. I sense a bit of a "circling the wagons" defense developing here. These command teams don't want to shed a negative light on one another and since the fire is two months old up to 5 teams have rotated through.

By not reporting the accident and entrapment that led to the two contractors nearly becoming ash they opened the door to other questions about safety by Occupational Safety and Health Program Manager Randy Draeger and his people.

I don't pretend to know if they could have evacuated the camp support personnel safely but those folks should have been afforded a ticket by helicopter or truck to a main road at least.

I've followed the Cascade Complex Fire since late July and even called it "The Full Forest Employment Fire of 2007."

Not too sure I'm wrong.

On August 17 the fire had nearly 1,150 firefighters assigned to the (then) 155,000 acre blaze. The fire was 16% contained and the costs were $13.5 million to date.
Today the fire is 28% containment, 950 firefighters are assigned, the acreage is 299,000 and the costs to date are over $50 million.

The same evacuations are in place for some of these small communities like Yellow Pine and Johnson Creek.

Here is transcript of the Incident 209 sent to me this morning;

"Johnson Creek, Yellow Pine and Warm Lake residences are now in a Level II evacuation. Power lines to Johnson Creek and Yellow Pine are still shut down due to fire spread. Ditch Creek Bridge was burned and is still unsafe to cross. Coordination with East Zone continues for actions in and around Yellow Pine. The Salmon-Challis N.F. will take management action on areas east of the Middle Fork, in coordination with the Cascade Complex, but will still be reported on Cascades 209. Updated acres include: Monumental – 299,932. Acreage summaries are based on "administered forest" boundaries: Boise National Forest 205,011 Payette National Forest 34,223 Salmon-Challis National Forest 60,698 Private 272. No acre change due to trouble with the IR flight on 9/16 with only Middle Fork done. IR request on 9/17 is in areas of Curtis Creek and Yellow Pine."

Finally and most important is 12 more firefighters have been injured since August 17. This "managed" fire approach is not only costly in dollars but risky to the health of firefighters and affected communities.
In light of the revelations outlined in the report above, the injuries to 16 firefighters, the extended evacuation orders and health concerns for outlying communities I hope the Forest Service big shots in Washington commission a team to pick this one to pieces for the benefit of firefighters that follow.


September 17, 2007

Butler 2 Fire Tanker 492 Down, NO INJURIES

The scanner transcription from Rim Of The World included in the last 30 minutes;

1:12 PM "{pilot} "just had a engine failure, over the lake, going to put it in the field"; {another broadcast} "I think we just had an engine failure in one of the SEATS"

1:21 PM "Tanker 492; no apparent injuries"

1:25 PM "No injury; Medivac is not needed; we have paramedics on scene; pilot is ambulatory; kind of a hard landing plane is generally in one piece; wet the ground around it"

SEAT - Single Engine Air Tanker, generally a contract tanker
(pic above is not tanker 492)

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Butler II Fire Crews Facing Wind Challenges Today

Butler II Fire perimeter map

(From Butler II ICP)

The graph below is from an experimental wind model run by U.C. Santa Barbara in concert with NASA. The model predicts winds at 20 MPH this evening.
Fire Location; Latitude and Longitude Lat: 34° 15´ 18" Long: 116° 59´ 59"

Wind graph UCSB/NASA

Check the transcribed scanner traffic on Rim Of The World .

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September 16, 2007

Battle For Fawnskin Underway

Scanner traffic being caught by Big Bear local media outfit Rim Of The World is indicating firefighters are waging hand to hand combat with the Butler II Fire as it tries to invade Fawnskin on the north shore of Big Bear Lake.

Apparently the webmaster picked up the air attack tactical net and is recording the "action" as it happens.

The transcription is riveting.

Entry 4:30 "Punch a line from just west of fire station straight south. (Fawnskin)"

Entry 5:57 "They're doing structure protection in Fawnskin; running tankers in the sse corner, so a little coordination would be great"

The map below shows the location of the of the fire station in Fawnskin.

View Larger Map

To all fire personnel, please be safe!

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Resources Beat A Path To Big Bear

Following this thread on Wildland Fire you get a sense of the urgency surrounding the Butler II Fire near Fawnskin. Last evening Central Valley crews were amassing at Fresno air attack base, as well strike teams were moving down from Shasta. Prado staging ground in Chino was busy with equipment and firefighters arriving before assignment.

It looks like the revised acreage is under 16,000. Wind pushed the fire away from the resort community of Green Valley Lake and the evacuation order has been lifted for residents there. The incident 209 still shows 600 structures in danger but it looks like Fawnskin is OK for now. This is a tribute to the expert ground and air attack crews that hit the fire hard last evening and through the night.

With Inciweb (based in Idaho) down again and I'm wondering if maybe the Forest Service should hit up Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or Amazon for some upgraded server space. Small trade off might be an ad or two?
It's a shame this system is not better administered, flick some switches guys.

Here is a satellite image I received by mail --> (Thanks Risk S.) You can see why the residents of Las Vegas were getting choked out by the smoke.

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September 15, 2007

Angel Fire, Links Updates, Cams, Forums

Webcam View of Angel Fire near Julian in distance, evening 8/15

WildlandFire.com Forums. Updated by firefighters close to the incident.

San Diego Local News Video. Reporter describes multiple fronts.

Inciweb Angel Fire updates . Be warned; sporadic outages

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Angel Fire, 500 Homes Threatened Near Julian

The Angel Fire started this afternoon and has already consumed 500 acres.

According to the Imperial Valley News,"Subdivisions of Julian Being Evacuated - in face of what's being described as a "Very Big Fire" this fir was initially spotted at 1:35 this afternoon. Fire crews and equipment have been diverted from the Big Bear Lake fire. The fire has exceeded 500 acres

Roads into Julian are closed as aerial tankers and ground crews are being rushed to the area.. A huge plume of smoke is visible throughout the region.

State Route 78 has been closed between Julian and Scissors Crossing, 20 miles to the east. "

This looks like a CDF / Cal Fire show all the way. Cal Fire has their hands full tonight. Does this combination of fires in Big Bear and now Julian remind anyone of the one-two punch of October 2003?
The big difference between then and today is the conflagrations of 2003 were Santa Ana wind driven.

Southern California, October 2003

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Butler 2 Wildfire, 18,000 Acres In 24 Hours

This one exploded overnight. The fire is threatening more than one community near Big Bear.

Inciweb update:

The fire is currently about 18000 acres. Mandatory evacuations have been called for the Fawnskin area from the Big Bear Dam to The Discovery Center north of Hwy 38. An evacuatiion center has been setup at the Big Bear High School in Sugarloaf.

New Evacuations--Sept. 15, 230 pm--The entire community of Green Valley Lake is under mandatory evacuation orders. An evacuation center is being established at Rim of the World High School.

The fire has destroyed multiple residences so far. ABC Channel 7 in Los Angeles showed overhead video with multiple dark plumes emanating from the fire ground.

Tanker 910 on scene.

MORE as details come clearer.

View Larger Map

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The Maltese Cross

"Firefighters wear the Maltese Cross to symbolize their willingness to risk their lives to save others" Local 1259 IAFF

The cross, which is considered sacred, represents the principles of charity, loyalty, chivalry, gallantry, generosity to friend and foe, protection of the weak and dexterity in service.

Other sources label the eight principles as:

  • Loyalty
  • Piety
  • Frankness
  • Bravery
  • Glory and honour
  • Contempt of death
  • Helpfulness towards the poor and the sick
  • Respect for the church


3 Million Acres Burning In Paraguay

Russian supertanker called to help. U.N sending aide as well as neighboring countries.

Image Waterbomber.com

From the Los Angeles Times:

"BUENOS AIRES -- -- Wind-blown fires scorching the parched Paraguayan countryside have scarred almost 3 million acres of forest, brush, pasture and farmland, officials said Friday, forcing the evacuation of 15,000 people and threatening nature reserves.

A protracted drought and the common practice of burning land for agriculture have contributed to the disaster, which some authorities have called the worst fires in Paraguay's history.

"The complexity of the situation is well beyond human control," Jose Key Kanasawa, chief of the National Emergency Secretariat, told Inter Press Service. "The only thing we can do is contain it, resist it, stop it from spreading and pray that the rain comes."

Authorities have blamed an explosion of separate blazes largely on peasants who routinely use fires to clear pasture and farmland, especially to plant export crops such as soy beans and cotton. Hot, dry and windy weather has fanned the blazes.

But experts cite other culprits: illegal loggers seeking access to protected forest areas, clandestine marijuana farmers and illicit hunters opening paths. Many of the affected regions have few police officers or other authorities."

Hindustan Times reports;

"Paraguay declared a national state of emergency as wildfires have burned more than 600,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land......

The Ilyushin plane can carry 40,000 litres of water per flight and was expected to be deployed for about five days, the Ultima Hora newspaper reported.

The fires are burning in the departments of Concepcion, San Pedro, Amambay and Canindeyu. Amambay and Canindeyu have important national parks containing endangered plants and animals.

Many of the fires have been blamed on land clearing by peasant farmers, a common practice in Paraguay. They were spreading rapidly because of a long-time drought, and meteorologists estimated that rain would come to the fire areas in 20 days at the earliest."

Precise satellite images for Paraguay specifically are hard to locate. The image below is from RapidFire-Nasa. Paraguay is not labeled, it's a sliver of a country on the map between Argentina and Brazil but the image is close.

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Desiree's Zaca Fire Photo Array

If you follow this blog regularly you know I am a huge fan of Copter Chick Desiree Horton. As you may know Desiree and her crew spent many weeks on the Zaca Fire. Click here to view her unbelievable images of the Zaca Fire from the air.

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September 12, 2007

Cascade Complex, 2 Months, 300k Acres, $50mil.

Map from Inciweb.

The Cascade Complex wildfire had been burning since July 17. The fire has now burned close to 300,000 acres. The fire is burning in parts of the Boise, Payette, Salmon-Challis National Forests.

Acreage to date per Inciweb is as follows;

"Updated acres include: Monumental - 286,205. Acre summaries are based on "administered forest" boundaries: Boise National Forest 197,037 Payette National Forest 32,277, Salmon Challis National Forest 56,670, Private 221.."

30% containment, yes, after 2 months it's 1/3 contained. They should just rename this fire "The Forest Service Full Employment Act Fire Of 2007".

Think I'm wrong? From the Incident 209 yesterday we read this;
"Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?

The current strategy is open-ended, some containment objectives are being achieved and threats point protection targets are being reduced but full containment is not the current strategy. The current strategy will likely not change until a season slowing event is reached."

That means SNOW. This sucker will burn until it snows!

However once you read on and see the fuels involved it makes some sense.

"Fuels/Materials Involved: Heavy Logging Slash"

So this is a managed fire feeding off the transgressions of the logging industry. Nearly 1,000 firefighters and nearly $50 million spent so far to clean up the slash left by loggers.

We should note that 15 firefighters have been hurt to varying degree over the last 2 months.

I recall a fire we responded to in a virgin redwood grove in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We accessed the fire smoldering in a logger slash pile and I have to tell you the scene was out of a science fiction post nuclear war film. I can't figure out how the logging crew left such a mess.
There were craters and mud bogs, stumps and slash everywhere. This had to be the work of wood poachers. We shocked some pot farmers ferrying 55 gallon water barrels to their gardens and I asked them who created this mess and they were no help. They were polite because they were scared someone in a uniform was so close to their hidden operation. Surely they didn't want tree cops snooping around after my crew left so they were mum, but they knew.

Bottom line is loggers often leave a mess and the forests involved in the Cascade Fire sound like they are getting cleaned up. Sounds strange but thinking of it this way helps to rationalize the $50 million price tag.
No price can rationalize the 15 injuries though. Maybe the Whalen ICT, with help from forest managers can trace back the responsible lumber companies for some help in suppression costs. Concentrated logging slash/trash is unnatural.

How many of these 15 injured firefighters were hurt because of the unpredictable fire activity contributed by these piles in the forest?

Surely though all 286,000 acres is not slash, maybe they should put this one out before the first snow.

A commenter below asked what defines slash! Here you go.

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September 11, 2007

343 Remember


On September 11, 2001 FDNY Firefighter Tommy Dunn was on his way into WTC Tower II with his engine company as it collapsed. His accounting of the day is permanently posted on Firefighter Exchange.

Please take a minute and click over the read Firefighter Dunn's incredible story of that tragic day.

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September 10, 2007

NorthTree Fire Maps The Moonlight Fire

The map below was constructed by NorthTree Fire.
Image URL

NorthTree Fire is a private mapping outfit that contracts for fires and other large-scale events.
To access their works you have to download Google Earth. NorthTree is clearly the leader in fire mapping and you can see why by the image above.

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September 09, 2007

Moonlight Fire Maps & Links

Blogging local fires by local media is catching on. Earlier this summer the Tahoe Daily Tribune covered the Angora Fire in blog form but refused to call it a blog even though "posts" were laid out in blog form. The Santa Barbara Independent ran a great semi-blog covering the monster Zaca Fire.

The Moonlight Fire is getting full blog style coverage from Plumas County News who operates multiple print newspapers in the Plumas County area. Not only great coverage but up to the minute. They offer some great images that locals sent in as well as maps dragged from around the web.

I guess newspapers don't have to cite (credit) material?

No matter, if you want to get the freshest info and great photos click their link.

The following map is built by Google Earth Data conversion by Zeke Lunder from NorthTree Fire International using KML in Google Earth.

The map following it is from Inciweb. The Google Map shows the fire area. The second map shows the hot spots. Do your own overlay to get an idea of where the hot spots are.

View Larger Map

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Moonlight Fire Day 7, 52,000 Acres To Date

Estimated Fire Area
(Map from Inciweb)

Moonlight Fire command is predicting troubling N/E winds today and into Monday. While the fire has only grown by 2,000 acres in the last 24 hours according to
Inciweb the chance for a significant increase in acreage should be expected with this wind change.

Here is unedited text from the Incident 209 this morning;

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

Steep, rocky terrain, heavy fuel loading, long range spotting, erratic high winds, extremely low live and dead fuel moisture levels all are contributing to extreme fire behavior. An East wind event is predicted for Sunday. Open abandoned mine shafts and associated hazardous materials, are a safety concern that is constantly being addressed. Heavy smoke limits visibility.

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):

Evacuation orders remain in effect in the North Arm of the Indian Valley and for small, isolated parcels to the East, including Taylor Lake, Wilcox Valley, and Franks Valley. Precautionary alerts have been delivered to residents of Taylorsville, Genesee Valley, and North Valley Road to Pecks Valley in Greenville. A Forest closure is in place to ensure safety in the vicinity of the fire.


Injuries are up too. 10 firefighters have been injured to date on the Moonlight Fire, the extent of injuries are not available. (the right people haven't asked) Old media would be granted that information if they wanted it. Bloggers don't count enough YET to get that info.

Moonlight Fire command has been consistent in requesting dozer supervisors. They have been making this call from the first day of the fire.
As the wind changes today everyone associated with this fire will be tested.
Be safe guys!

Post Update (2 pm): Wildlandfire.com postings on this thread of deteriorating conditions on the Moonlight Fire.

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September 08, 2007

Spotlight on Moonlight Fire

Map Image Inciweb
(click map to enlarge)

Facts from morning sit report 0700 hours today September 9

34,100 ACRES
% Contained
or MMA
16 Percent
Total personnel assigned

Injuries To Date:


Fire made a significant run to the Northeast and East last night. It made it to the Browns Cabin area,and Lone Rock Valley. Acreage and any structure loss is being evaluated this morning. Dozer Bosses are needed for contingency efforts and direct/indirect attack. Air tankers are critical to slow advancing fire. With active fire behavior throughout the night time hours, air tankers are critical during the morning. Type 1 crews and Division Supervisors are critical for holding of established line, construction of direct line and burnout operations. The fire was very active in the Diamond Mountain area and pushing Northeast to the Red Rock Lookout.
Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):

Fire made a significant push towards Antelope Lakes area. Antelope Lake campground was evacuated. Evacuation orders remain in effect in the North Arm of the Indian Valley and for small, isolated parcels to the East, including Taylor Lake, Wilcox Valley, and Franks Valley. Precautionary alerts have been delivered to residents of Taylorsville and Genesee Valley, and North Valley Road to Pecks Valley in Greenville. A Forest closure is in place to ensure safety in the vicinity of the fire. All major highways remain open, however most Forest roads are closed to access.

Summary from Inciweb;

"A favorable shift in wind patterns has allowed firefighters to make progress on the Moonlight Fire. While containment is still 8%, growth was kept to a minimum overnight.

Prevailing light winds coming from the southwest are expected for the next 3-4 days and will provide some fire stability. Residents in Susanville, Janesville, and the Doyle areas should expect to be inundated with smoke. However, residents in Greenville, Taylorsville and the North Arm area should see significant smoke leaving the valley during the day with some settling in the evening."


The winds are constantly changing presenting some interesting challenges. The good news is no high winds are predicted. Coincidently the Moonlight Fire is burning only miles south of Hamilton Mountain as seen on the map above. As we know the Lick fire is burning only miles south of Mt Hamilton.

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Lick Fire Bosses Gain Ground

Lick Fire Incident Commander Bob Whallen, his command team and the 1,900 firefighters assigned to the incident have turned a corner. The weather helped as humidity and winds worked to their favor.
According to the morning report from the incident the fire is at 39,585 acres and is 45% contained. Demobilization of some of the resources begins today.

Other facts from the Incident 209 report filed at 0700 hours today;

to Date: 4

Actions planned for next operational period:
Indirect line construction in lighter fuels, burnout operations planned, Mop-up and secure completed line.

Today's observed fire behavior (leave blank for non-fire events):
Active fire runs with short range spotting, complete consumption of dead fuels.

Fuels/Materials Involved:
4 Chaparral (6 Feet)
Heavy brush and Oak Woodlands, some timber

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.
Access to remote areas very difficult, road conditions are deteriorating

Projected Final Size:

Estimated Final Cost:

Image Mt Hamilton Webcam

The Hamcam is not pointed towards the fire ground however you can see the Santa Clara Valley is socked in with fog. I believe that's smoke above the low lying clouds.

Click HERE for a topographical map of the Lick Fire area.

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September 07, 2007

Revisiting The Inyo Wildfire Complex

This post by the administrator of Wildlandfire.com draws attention to the injured CDF/Cal Fire firefighters hurt in the burnover on the Inyo Complex in July.

Firefighter Blog followed the Inyo Complex Fire from beginning to end but I never heard details of the burnover other than up to 7 firefighters were injured to varying degrees. The injured firefighters were evaced to Fresno for treatment. Local (Fresno) news reported their arrival but the reporting ended there and no further information on the condition of the men has been mentioned publicly since.

I assumed the burns were minor but the thread on Wildland Fire indicate an engineer may have permanent lung damage.

CDF/Cal Fire does not cover up injuries or accidents. An accident investigation team has certainly been assembled and the team will review every step leading up to, during and after the incident.

Various accounts confirm the pilots of a P2V from Neptune Aviation Services made a crucial, possibly life saving drop on the crews that at a minimum mitigated their injuries.

Something very dramatic happened during that time line and I am hoping you can read about it here, in time.

I'm also in agreement with the suggestion the persons involved should not sign any papers until the full review is completed, and then only under the supervision of legal counsel.

If any parents or concerned parties wish to share information anonymously or otherwise.

Mikes web mail @ Gmail dot com


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11 Croatian Firefighters Die In Line Of Duty

Two were 17 years old.

From BBC International;

"The blaze, which broke out on Kornat island, killed six firemen on Thursday last week when a sudden change of wind direction trapped them in the flames.
Five more firemen have now since died in hospital.
Police have detained a national park receptionist on suspicion of causing the blaze with a discarded cigarette.
The wildfire is the worst incident of its kind in the country, wreaking havoc on Kornat island, 30km (20 miles) south of Zadar.
Kornat is the largest of a group of islands that makes up a national park in the southern part of the Kornati archipelago.

Another two firemen remain in hospital in critical condition."

The two teenagers were Karlo Severdija and Mario Stancic. The fire commander has been arrested for sending under-trained fire personnel into a region with 'erratic winds predicted'. It's also reported he did not evacuate injured fire personnel nor did he send adequate backup even though he knew conditions were deteriorating.

These poor kids were looking for an adventure and to make a few bucks. Their lives were just beginning. Someone should be held to pay.

One thing for certain is this two-bit fire chief won't be trotting out an ACLU type lawyer with a pr company as supporting cast to defend him. They mete out old school, old world justice in that quarter and unless he is able to hide under the skirt of a paid off general he's looking at some serious time on a chain gang, or worse and so be it.

In the USA you need a 40 hour basic wildland firefighter course and be able to yell out the 10 Standing Firefighting Orders and 13 (18) conditions that Shout Watch Out before you can get on a fire line.

So much went wrong with this Kornati Island fire that it's hard to avoid the obvious point that some Croatia fire commanders lack even basic knowledge of wildland firefighting.

Hopefully the deaths of these 11 firefighters can come to mean something, maybe what can be learned from their deaths will help prevent future tragedies.

More about Croatia.


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Lick Fire Chars 27,000 Acres So Far

On September 3 the Lick Fire Incident Commander took a good look at the scene and estimated the fire could grow to 30,000 acres. This estimate was based on existing fire breaks, natural barriers and the weather at the time. According to last night's official Incident 209 report the fire has already taken out 27,000 acres.

Winds and smoke have both helped and hurt fire command. Winds initially worked to push the fire away from populated areas which minimized the potential for property damage while at the same time moved the fire to areas with limited access.

Smoke has hampered the fight as well. Once the wind died down smoke blanketed the fire ground making it difficult to put the assembled air force to work. Smoke from the Moonlight Fire near Lake Almanor added another layer of smoke on top of the Lick smoke that shut down air attack.

The fire is too large to fight effectively on the ground alone so fire command is fighting the fire with one hand tied behind their back. Once the wind clears some smoke the 1,800 + contingent will hit this thing with all cylinders firing.

Here is a video of the DC-10 Supertanker, Tanker 910 making a drop on the Lick Fire. (date unclear)

Below is a great shot of the Supertanker making a drop on the Lick Fire Tuesday September 4.

Lick Fire and Moonlight Fire updates later!


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September 06, 2007

Moonlight Fire Midday Update

Have a look at this animated weather loop and notice the Mono Winds or East Winds are still driving this fire. Last report the fire was at 19,000 acres with 8% containment.
The satellite image below is from yesterday but you can see from the weather movie above the wind is driving smoke towards the Bay Area and as far down the central valley as Visalia.

Image Earth Observatory

Of course the larger concern is the status of Greenville as we noted in an earlier post. The Moonlight Fire is burning in a fairly remote region of California, not a glamour spot like Silicon Valley, San Francisco or Santa Barbara so front line reports will be limited. A dramatic story may be unfolding in the Plumas.

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Vanity Post


Firefighter Blog made the front page of Blogger "Blogs of Note"!

Thank you Google Blogger Team

About Blogs of Note at Blogger Buzz

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Moonlight Fire Bearing Down On Small Town

Moonlight Fire bosses ordered up State OES engine strike teams for structure protection for the town of Greenville California, population 1,100. According to Wikipedia there are over 450 homes in the town.

View Larger Map

From the Incident 209 report;

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
Mandatory evacuations in effect in Greenville and Greenville Ranchera area. 5 local engine strike teams and 5 emergency need OES engine strike teams in place and ordered for structure protection. Efforts to re-establish control lines lost last night will take place today.

The Moonlight Fire facts are as follows;
24,300 ACRES
% Contained
or MMA
8 Percent
Short Location Description (in reference to nearest town):
6 mi. NE of Greenville
Growth Potential - Extreme
Difficulty of Terrain - Extreme
Today's observed fire behavior (leave blank for non-fire events):
Active downhill crown fire and long range spotting ( up to 2.5 mile). Active backing fire was also observed. Strong northern wind pushed fire in southern direction.
Incident Commander

Bill Molumby and his team just went from bad to worse this fire season. You will recall he and his command team took over the Zaca Fire early on. They were later feted at a "going away" reception in upscale Montecito.

If he saves Greenville he will be toasted with Budweiser and treated to a down home backyard BBQ. Something tells me he and his crew will like that more than the fuss made in Santa Barbara.

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September 05, 2007

Satellite Image of Lick Fire Smoke Trail

S.F. Bay Area, Monterey Bay Area and Central Valley residents are seeing and feeling the effects of smoke from two major wildfires. The Lick Fire east of Morgan Hill has burned 11,000 acres and the Moonlight Fire north of Sacramento has burned 15,000 acres. Both fires are less than 20% contained. If you look at the image below it appears the Lick Fire smoke has entered the central valley and hooked north around Mt. Hamilton. In fact the smoke invading the Bay Area is from the Moonlight Fire. Monterey Bay residents are receiving smoke from the Lick Incident.

Satellite Image ActiveFireMaps.fs.fed.us
(Click Image to enlarge)

The Lick Fire as seen from Mt Hamilton (Hamcam) 4:30 today.
Although there's not much of a smoke column you can see the smokey conditions firefighters are working under.


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Lick Fire Midday Update, Day 3

San Francisco's CBS 5 reports on their Bay City News Page that the National Guard has committed resources to the fire.;

"Cal Fire has now utilized 155 engines, 24 bulldozers, 34 crews, nine air-tankers and eight helicopters, including two Nevada National Guard and three California National Guard helicopters. About 1,298 firefighters have been deployed to combat the blaze."

Henry Coe area weather is cooperating so far today but winds are projected to stiffen later this afternoon.

This is a textbook CDF/ Cal Fire operation. Don't look for biologists to be flown in from Maine or any ICP tours here. No touchy feely kiosks or wine and cheese going away receptions either.

This is how fires are fought.

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Lick Fire Day 3

One of the unique aspects of the Lick Fire a webcam from above points at the action. This morning the camera shows us a sleeping beast waiting for it's wake up call from nature. Just beyond the peak in the foreground are a few hundred men and women scraping the ground on a steep grade. Daybreak on the fire line is a special time. A time to stop for a moment and look around. Later as the day heats up and the winds perk up a different mood sets in.

The fire has consumed 10,000 acres. CDF/Cal Fire has assembled an army of 1,700 to combat the flames.
More as the day progresses.

8:00 AM Wed. Sept. 5
(click to enlarge)

Read all Lick Fire related posts here!

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September 04, 2007

Lick Fire Update: Tanker 910 Spiked In Sacramento

KPIX 5 News reports the Lick Fire is now over 7,000 acres. The news channel also brings news on the DC-10 Supertanker, Tanker 910 is now pre-positioned in Sacramento.

""The DC-10, known as Tanker 910, is normally based in Victorville in Southern California. The new Sacramento-area refueling and resupply station will allow the tanker to be much closer to the Lick Fire and other wild fires in Northern California, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant.

Tanker 910 made one drop on the Lick Fire on Monday evening and firefighters on the scene are hoping for additional drops from the behemoth.

"It drops about 10,000 gallons of slurry,'' Hoyt said. "It'll lay down a large swath of slurry that's very effective, especially in structure protection.''"

In other Lick Fire news, the Mt Hamilton webcam (Hamcam) is back up and delivering more spectacular images of the fire currently burning downwind from the telescopes at the massive Lick Observatory complex. This indicates to me CDF/Cal Fire is kicking some butt in some very tough terrain. More when the incident command post's their evening report.

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Lick Fire Quadruples Overnight

From Michael Shirley-Donnelley/ Flickr.com

According to the Incident 209 report the Lick Fire has grown to 5,000 acres. The fire is moving to the S/E generally. The IC claims the fire is 10% contained.

As only they can CDF/ Cal Fire amassed an army of nearly 800 overnight to battle the flames that they expect to eat through 30,000 acres.

The webcam on Mt Hamilton has been shut down (since midnight) so a live view of the fire is unavailable. I suspect their servers were hit hard by viewers pointed to their unique fire view. I hope they boot it back up later this morning.

The good news is the fire is moving away from populated areas.

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September 03, 2007

Lick Fire In Henry Coe State Park

Update: 700 acres, moderate rate of spread, spotting in all directions.

This is an updated image (20:10 Hrs) from the Mt Hamilton webcam facing South.
(link below)

They tilted the webcam on Mt Hamilton to give us a view of the Lick Fire burning East of Morgan Hill in Henry Coe State Park. The San Jose Mercury News has information that 10 CDF engines are on scene as well as Tanker 910, the DC-10 Supertanker CDF/Cal Fire has contracted.

You'll recall the firefighting supertanker responded to another South Bay fire last week above Cupertino and helped contain that fire to 150 acres even though initial attack brass suggested that one could go to 3,000 acres.

The Lick Fire is currently at 200 acres. From personal experience I know this country has not burned in 30 years or more and most of the country it's headed into is inaccessible.

Prayers for all the responders.

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September 02, 2007

Linda Graffagnino Is a Hero Too

Linda lost her husband Firefighter Joseph Graffagnino two weeks ago in a fire in an abandoned building near ground zero. Also losing his life was Firefighter Robert Beddia, a 24 year veteran of the department.

Linda is not playing the victim role as she speaks out against the city and those responsible for placing her husband in the dry building. Her powerful words should be heard;

From Gothamist.com

"With the city, it's really all about money; it's not about human life. Now who is paying the price? Me, my in-laws and my children. The firefighters, they're the good guys, and it's the city's responsibility to protect them...

Someone screwed up major...You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know if there's no water in the building, you get the people out of there as fast as you can...

If you don't have water to put a fire out, I don't know how you're going to put it out. I don't know who you're going to save...

Has this country not learned anything from 9/11? You would think after thousands of people died, someone would learn a lesson, but it just didn't happen...

It's sad to say that my husband had to die for someone to take notice and take action, but if I could maybe change someone else's life and save another firefighter's life down the road so they don't have to go through this, that will make me feel some peace.

She added, "This is the worst thing that could have possibly happened. I'm 33 and now I'm a widow and I have two small children. I never thought that I would be here."

Linda's kids were living with two heroes.

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September 01, 2007

Castle Rock Fire Air Assault Video

If you like to see air tankers at work then check out this video shot by Forest Service crews atop Bald Mountain above Ketchum August 28. I got this video from a webcam page link on SunValley.com.

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Castle Rock Fire, Some Work, Some Host

Today the Castle Rock Fire Command will host tours of the "fire camp." The fire is 55% contained and weather appears favorable. However while hand crews hike, dozers carve, engine crews prep their equipment, air tanker and helicopter pilots fly dangerous missions and field overhead work to keep them all safe, some are hosting tours of the comfortable base camp.

From Inciweb
ANNOUNCEMENT Tour the Castle Rock Incident Command Post Saturday and Sunday
When - Saturday and Sunday, September 1 and 2 at 11am and 2pm, UNLESS the tours are cancelled due to fire activity - Where - Meet at the Incident Command Post located at Highway 75/Serenade Street.......
Follow the signs to the parking area and meeting location All tours will take 60 to 90 minutes. Please wear comfortable shoes and be ready to walk on uneven surfaces

The weekend events will fall between Bart Simpson shown here staring at Smokey and this tour reception menu parody.

By my accounting this is the final weekend for Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley. Her 14 day stint will time out this weekend so the party and tour will serve a duel purpose. Recall the thunderous applause she received from grateful area residents for doing her job.

Sun Valley is celebrity filled at times of the year so it's conceivable she may get a going away surprise reception as Zaca Fire Commander Molumby did when the legendary Comedian Jonathan Winters toasted him at a going away reception in Santa Barbara.

I'm not party pooper or a killjoy but my guys are on the line, never see the command center and generally don't sleep well. If anyone deserves anything it's them. I'd be surprised if the poor schmoes in the field even get a mention today or tomorrow by the tour guides or those serving finger food.

Here is what I would like to see. If the local communities want to thank the guys who really worked this fire they can can get creative by handing out season passes for Bald Mountain or divvy out some free weekend condo packages. Maybe that is impractical, certainly not expected by the guys and gals but with a little creativity the residents could come up with something for the real heroes.

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