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July 31, 2008

Telegraph Fire Summary July 31 & Burma Grade Map

 
The midday 209 is much the same as the ICS-209 filed at midnight. One new injury is reported bringing the total to 16. The fire is now 45% contained and 4,496 fire personnel are on assigned to the incident. The acreage is reported at 33,705.

This is a logistical challenge for Mariposa considering the town's population is under 1,500. Mariposa has one main street, Highway 140. It's situated much like Highway 49 neighbor Oakhurst, the other gateway city to Yosemite where Highway 41 serves as "Main Street". A rough guess is 700 vehicles are part of the firefighting effort.

I hope someone is getting pictures.

The map below is the Telegraph Fire perimeter tonight using a Google Earth overlay from Forest Service Active Mapping Service.



Local Mariposan's were kind enough to inform inquiring commenters from the previous post where the Burma Grade Road was located. The grade has been referred to by Telegraph Fire personnel from dozer operators to air attack pilots for days now but the road is not named on any maps.

We can see now the importance of this road. It's a key crossing point of the Merced River that allows resources to access fire grounds on the north bank above the river and beyond.

Another key geographic feature is Black Mountain, also unnamed on available maps. Even tanker pilots have asked for clarification from air attack as to which peak is "Black Mountain".



Update: Again thanks to readers we now know the exact location of Black Mountain in relation to the "Burma Grade" road. For those who want to see a topographic map click here. My experience was it takes some time to load.


Top map south to north aspect. Below east looking west.

Click maps to enlarge


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Threat Eases as Telegraph Slows To a Crawl

 
Updated totals for the Telegraph Fire:

33,705 Acres -40% Contained -4,448 Fire Personnel -51 dozers- 57 Water Tenders 101 Engines -13 Helicopters -12 Fixed Wing Aircraft- 61 Hand Crews Including 6 Camp Crews

Projected demobilization start date: August 1, 2008 0800hrs

Today's observed fire behavior:
"North end of the fire is a running surface fire with occasional single tree torching and short range spotting. The remainder of the incident is experiencing moderate fire behavior.

Significant events today:
Active fire behavior is primarily in the northern and eastern flanks of the fire. Hwy 140 to Yosemite National Park was restricted for a period of time yesterday; CHP will be escorting traffic through one lane only when air operations is not working in the area. Logistical support is now available at Kassabaum Spike Camp. On 7/30/08 at 0700 operational briefings will be held at both camps. The northern portion of the fire is mow in fuel model 10. The incident is now operating in an Area Command (Hodson), with north and south operational areas. ICT 6 will command the north area and ICT 8 will command the south area. The Merced River will be the operational area break. Fire suppression repair has begun. Some residents in Div A, B, and S were allowed to renter this evening

Actions planned for next operational period:
Keep the fire east of Highway 49, north and west of Highway 140 and south of Highway 120. Dozer and hand line will dominate suppression efforts due to the extreme topography and fuels. Air support will be critical in holding efforts. No significant demobilization is planned for 7/31; however plans are in place to demob Type 1 Engines starting on 8/1. Resource orders have be placed to facilitate the demobilization plan. Fire activity may alter this plan"

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July 30, 2008

Telegraph Fire Maps Branch/Division Indicators

 
Thanks to the "Anon" email, much appreciation. The Telegraph incident working map has been as tightly held for some reason. Eisenhower didn't enjoy such secrecy!

Click maps to enlarge

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Telegraph Fire Midday Numbers Update July 30

 
The afternoon incident 209 is out and not much has changed since the previous filing posted at midnight.

Acreage is still 32,060 but the fire is now at 40% containment. 3,790 firefighters on scene.

At the moment the Martin Mars air tanker AND Tanker 910 are lining up to make drops over the fire. All three heavy air tankers parked overnight at Fresno are working the fire as well as 2 MAFFS C-130's waiting in the queue.

Anyone close to the fire is witnessing a quite a show! 13 helicopters and 12 fixed wing aircraft are working the fire today.

Legend included for Patty, click map to enlarge

Notes from the 209 filed noon July 30--

Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?
Likely in the southern area. Still very difficult in the northern area

Remarks:
The communities of Coulterville, Midpines, and Greeley Hill are threatened. El Portal, and Yosemite National Park may be threatened. The fire will continue to cause partial or complete restrictions of Hwy 140 leading to the main entrance to Yosemite National Park. An evacuation center has been established at the Mariposa Elementary School. Kassabaum Spike Camp is now operational. Preliminary damage inspection was conducted by Mariposa County; the incident will continue damage inspection over the next several days.

Significant events today:
Active fire behavior is primarily in the northern and eastern flanks of the fire. Hwy 140 to Yosemite National Park was restricted for a period of time yesterday; CHP will be escorting traffic through one lane only when air operations is not working in the area. There was a town hall meeting conducted by command staff in El Portal to inform residents on the current fire status, over a two hundred residents attended. Logistical support is now available at Kassabaum Spike Camp. On 7/30/08 at 0700 operational briefings will be held at both Base Camp and at Kassabaum Spike Camp. Today the northern portion of the fire transitioned from a fuel model 6 to a fuel model 10. The will be transitioning into an area command at 1200. The incident will have a North operations area (ICT 6) and a South operations area (ICT8).

Over the next 12 hours the fire will continue to grow in Branches III."


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Kat Country Thinking About Fireline Heroes

 
Jim Wells, one of the good guys at Kat Country 103.3fm in Modesto sends a message of good will and an offer to help any way they can to the firefighters working long hours on the Telegraph Fire

In addition to offers of help Jim would like to put a few firefighters on the air to describe what they are dealing with on the fire lines.

Jim can be contacted at KATM.com.

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Martin Mars Tankers Pay Call On The Telegraph Fire

 
The Martin Mars supertankers are set to make drops on the north head of the Telegraph Fire some time today.

Two air attack crafts circling 6,000 ft above the fire were heard discussing plans to use the giant planes to bolster a double wide dozer line on top of (or near) Black Mountain.

The Martin Mars "bird-dog" or lead aircraft is scouting the path of the huge tankers this morning. The lead plane also scouts refilling spots for the tankers. The tankers will dip into Lake Don Pedro to refill their 7,000 gallon tanks. Anyone near the reservoir will be treated to a rare treat today.

The ETA for the Mars craft is approximately 1:30 pm this afternoon.





General information-
They (tankers) can be in the air in ten minutes and, based on historical data, each can make a drop every fifteen minutes. Working in tandem, this equates to 7,200 US gallons (27,276 litres) every seven minutes and each drop can cover an area of up to 4 acres (1.6 hectares). It has often been said that the Mars, with a 60,000 pound (27,216 kilogram) payload of foam, is like ""a huge wet blanket". The highly experienced Mars pilots, working closely with the Incident Commander...

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Telegraph Fire Path Moves Away From Mariposa

 
The midnight 209 offers lots of hope for Mariposa County residents. The fire grew by 10% in the last 24 hours to 32,600 acres. Containment is at 20%.

Damage assessment shows 22 homes have been burned, a downward revision from the 25 reported yesterday. 32 outbuilding have been consumed by flames.

Just under 3,800 firefighters are assigned to the incident. 15 firefighters have been injured since the fire began 5 days ago.


Notes from the report;

Today's observed fire behavior:
North end of the fire is a running surface fire with occasional single tree torching. The remainder of the incident is experiencing moderate fire behavior.

Significant events today:
Active fire behavior is being observed on the northern and eastern flanks of the fire. Hwy 140 to Yosemite National Park was restricted for a period of time today; CHP will be escorting traffic through one lane only when air operations is not working in the area. Logistical support is now available at Kassabaum Spike Camp. On 7/30/08 at 0700 operational briefings will be held at both Base Camp and at Kassabaum Spike Camp. Today the northern portion of the fire transitioned from a fuel model 6 to a fuel model 10.

Major problems and concerns:
There are significant road closures in the area of the fire; specifically Hwy 140 a route to enter Yosemite National Park was completely restricted for a period of time yesterday due to the fire behavior and Air Ops. The power to Yosemite Valley is out. The water supply system for the Mariposa Public Utility District is threatened. The northeast flank of the fire is posing an immediate threat to the Stanislaus/Sierra National Forest within Federal Responsibility Area. Accessibility problems continue to damper suppression efforts due to terrain that is bisected by deep drainages, rock outcroppings and the Merced River Canyon.

Credit good firefighting and expert use of air resources. This fire had hundreds of homes in it's sights. The LA Times should revise their criticisms of the use of air tankers on fires after reviewing how they were used here.

Well done CalFire, hats off to all air attack and all ground forces!

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July 29, 2008

"I Think We Saved Tassajara" A Fire Story Like No Other

 
Tassajara Mountain Center Director David Zimmerman recounts how he and four fellow "fire-monks" faced the Basin Complex Fire as it swept down canyon from four sides on the afternoon of July 10.

We read about preparations for the fire's arrival and circumstances that led to the decision to stay, now we are treated to a remarkable recounting of the day flames arrived.

Read the story here of the "Tassajara Five" here.

The monks were denied help from the Forest Service during and after the fire arrived even as helicopters and tankers circled above. I posted on the plight of the Center here and here. They were abandoned, even as they requested help by phone as the fire raged about the compound.

$80,000,000 was spent on the 162,000 acre Basin Complex fire and the Tassajara Mountain Center was the only structure on the entire east side of the massive blaze!

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Telegraph Fire Maps Evening July 29

 
GeoMAC and MODIS overlay on Google Earth are synchronized at the moment.


Click maps to enlarge



This afternoon the convection column was at least as large as any of the four columns visible yesterday. The plume was visible from the parking lot of Gold's Gym in north Fresno at 3:00 pm today.

Some structure protection strike teams are bedding down in Fresno hotels tonight, more than an hour from the incident base at the Mariposa Fairgrounds. Oakhurst and Mariposa rooms are filled.

Finding rooms for 3,500 firefighters is formidable task.
.

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Telegraph Fire Maps

 
The map shown below does not include the legend. You must follow this Map Link for a legend description. The map is not a fire perimeter map as much as a definition of evacuation warnings and watches.


Click map images to enlarge.

I'm posting another GeoMAC map with some reservation. The map shows activity that somewhat matches scanner traffic. GeoMAC appears to be much more than an hour behind. Take this as well as all material posted here for what it is.

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Midday July 29 Telegraph Fire Challenges Fire Command

 
"We're going to be in for a fight"

This is a direct quote from one Branch Director communicating with another Branch Director minutes ago. This communication follows chatter indicating the slopover I blogged about earlier near Black Mountain was completely lost.
There is reason to believe this fire is still very much in it's early stages if you try to interpret bits and pieces of radio communication. (edited 1400 hrs July 29, possible misleading commentary, Mike)
I put together a few maps from Google Earth. The first map is a view of the Telegraph Fire looking from the north to south.

The map below indicates the fire is approaching the Fergusun (sp) landslide on Highway 140. There's no way to know how accurate MODIS is at this point.


The next map is looking east from Highway 49 towards Yosemite National Park.


This map is an overhead shot looking to the west from over Yosemite Valley.


The afternoon 209 reveals very little news, almost a rubber stamp from the last two. Acreage has not been upgraded. There have been 12 injuries to firefighters since the Telegraph Fire commenced July 25.

Note from afternoon 209-
"The communities of Mariposa, Coulterville, Midpines, Mt. Bullion, and Greeley Hill are threatened. The Merced River BLM Wilderness Study area is immediately threatened. Coulterville, Greely Hill, El Portal, and Yosemite National Park maybe threaten. The fire is moving toward the boundaries of the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests. The fire will continue to cause partial or complete closure of Hwy 140 leading to the main entrance to Yosemite National Park. An evacuation center has been established at the Mariposa Elementary School. Kassabaum Spike Camp will be operational beginning tomorrow at noon. Preliminary damage inspection was conducted by Mariposa County; the incident will continue damage inspection over the next several days."

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Full Air Assault Under Way As Tankers Bomb The Telegraph

 
Telegraph Air Attack is coordinating a massive air assault on a slopover on the northeast head of the fire in the Merced River drainage. A constant string of heavy air tankers and S-2's are running back and forth between the fire and McClellan Air Field in Sacramento and Fresno.


The smaller air attack fixed wing aircraft (generally an OV-10A) is constantly circling the fire. As an eye in the sky AA is like a symphony conductor guiding in air tankers and helicopters to specific spots as requested from ground commanders.

No less than 5 air tankers are bombing (pre-treating) the area in front of the advancing flames tying in with dozer lines that were cut in over night. Once the ground has been painted helicopters will be moved in to drop water on hot spots and support ground crews.

As I am writing this Telegraph Fire Air Attack just requested Tanker 66, Tanker 42 and Tanker 11 to launch from Fresno. Simultaneously they requested the two MAFFS C-130 aircraft based out of McClellan to augment the aircraft already working.

Safe flying fellas.

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Telegraph Fire July 29 Update 29k Acres, 25 Homes

 
The early morning incident report was sobering. Resident were informed at a community meeting that 25 homes have burned so far. 27 outbuilding have been consumed as well. 4,000 homes remain threatened. 9 firefighters have been injured since the fire began on the afternoon of July 25. The fire is 10% contained.

3,458 firefighters are assigned to the Telegraph Fire, half of which are CalFire personnel. A spike camp is being established on the north side of the fire east of Coulterville. Visitors to Yosemite should consider using the south entrance on Highway 41.

Notes from the morning 209-


"The fire is very active on all flanks. Long distance Spotting has been observed on the north, south and west flanks.

The community of Mariposa is being impacted by the fire at this time. A pre-evacuation advisement was issued to the communities of Midpines and Briceburg. Active fire behavior is being observed in all directions primarily in the south and east flanks near the advisement areas. Hwy 140 to Yosemite National Park was closed for a period of time today; CHP will be escorting traffic through one lane only. There was a town hall meeting in Mariposa to inform residents on the current fire status. Kassabaum Spike Camp will be operational beginning tomorrow at noon.

There are significant road closures in the area of the fire; specifically Hwy 140 a route to enter Yosemite National Park was completely closed for a period of time today due to the fire behavior. The power to Yosemite Valley is out. The water supply system for the Mariposa Public Utility District is threatened. The northeast flank of the fire is posing an immediate threat to the Stanislaus/Sierra National Forest within Federal Responsibility Area. Accessibility problems continue to damper suppression efforts due to terrain that is bisected by deep drainages, rock outcrops and the Merced River Canyon. "


Maps not to scale and not representative of actual fire perimeter.

Thank you for all the comments. When I get a chance later I will post some of the important links sent by locals regarding damage assessment and impacted addresses

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July 28, 2008

Wow! I'm Putting In For Camp Blogger

 
First I'll have to conjure up a bid.

The Los Angeles Times fires off part one of a five part series looking into the high costs of fighting fires in California.

I'm envious. Concierge services, (just short of drawn bedding), laundry and catered cuisine dining is tough to read about when we used to lay out a paper sleeping bag on scraped ground after eating MRE's for dinner.

How times have changed.

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Telegraph Fire Update; 3,173 Firefighters On Scene

 
From the Telegraph Fire midday 209:

*The community of Mariposa is being impacted by the fire at this time. A pre-evacuation advisement was issued to the communities of Midpines and Briceburg. Active fire behavior is being observed in all directions primarily in the south and east flanks near the advisement areas. Hwy 140 to Yosemite National Park most likely to be closed.

*There are significant road closures in the area of the fire. The power to Yosemite Valley is out. The water supply system for the Mariposa Public Utility District is threatened. The northeast flank of the fire is posing an immediate threat to the Stanislaus National Forest within Federal Responsibility Area. Accessibility problems continue to damper suppression efforts due to terrain that is bisected by deep drainages, rock outcrops and the Merced River Canyon.

*The communities of Mariposa, Midpines and Mt. Bullion are being threatened. John C Freemont Hospital is threatened. The communities of Mariposa, Midpines, Greeley Hill, Coulterville, Bear Valley, and Mt. Bullion Conservation Camp are under an evacuation advisory. Various roads between Mariposa, Midpines and Greeley Hill are under a mandatory evacuation. Communication towers for television and radio as well as repeater sites are threatened.

Click Images To Enlarge




On a personal note I intended to get close enough to get some photos but stopped short and paid a visit to Hornitos. The smoke was too thick even from there and I saw no point in getting onto Hwy 49 contributing to clogging roads. My general impression is the fire could work up the Merced River drainage east and towards Highway 120 northeast.

There's a lot of equipment available to branch directors. With numerous helicopters on scene it's easier to chase spots before they get too well established. On that subject, according to scanner traffic there are numerous spots developing as the afternoon progresses.

Tanker 910 and other heavies are making drops on the Telegraph. 48 dozers and 89 engines, 41 crews and 30 water tenders round out the manpower on scene.

This is a tough incident to follow. The ICS-209 reports are offered at odd hours and there is nowhere I can find that has official maps of the fire perimeter. MODIS is proving to be slow. I consider the maps I post to be outdated. All the "old media" news outlets seem to be doing is setting up for a remote field report with flame in the background. Not one reporter, (National or Local) has asked a pertinent question!!

Area residents reading this blog should not interpret any information posted here as official.

Update as information becomes available. If anyone has images please send me a note through comment section, thanks!


Update: CalFire posted (finally) a Telegraph Incident Map (PDF) .

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Telegraph Fire Scanner (info/ink)

 
No updates until 4:00 pm as I am in the fire area today. I encourage anyone interested in following the fire to listen on the Telegraph Incident Scanner.

I appreciate all the comments, please keep them coming.


Telegraph Fire Now 26,000 Acres, Minimal Containment

 
The Telegraph fire grew by 40% yesterday to 26,000 acres. Twelve homes have been destroyed. 2,512 firefighters are assigned to the Telegraph with many more en route. Three firefighters have been injured on the Telegraph Fire.

Significant quotes from the most recent Incident Report:

Today's observed fire behavior

*The fire is very active on all flanks. Spotting has been observed on the active flanks.

*There are significant road closures in the area of the fire. The power to Yosemite Valley is out. The water supply system for the Mariposa Public Utility District is threatened. Repeater sites and Mount Bullion Conservation Camp are threatened. The northeast flank of the fire is posing an immediate threat to the Stanislaus National Forest within Federal Responsibility Area. Accessibility problems continue to damper suppression efforts due to terrain that is bisected by deep drainages, rock outcrops and the Merced River Canyon.

*Communication towers for television and radio as well as repeater sites are threatened. Damaged 70kv transmission lines have left Yosemite Valley and other areas without power. The sole source watershed for 2,000 Mariposa residents is being compromised. A majority of the BLM Wilderness Study area has burned and the fire threatens the remainder.

*The communities of Mariposa, Coulterville, Midpines, Mt. Bullion, and Greeley Hill are impacted by the fire. Coulterville, Greely Hill, El Portal, and Yosemite National Park maybe threatened. The fire is moving toward the boundaries of the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests. The fire may cause the closure of Hwy 140 leading to the main entrance to Yosemite National Park. An evacuation center has been established at the Mariposa Elementary School. The Team is planning to establish a spike camp east of Coulterville in the Greely Hill area. All three reported injuries are minor resulting from lacerations and heat exhaustion.




Updates as information becomes available.

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July 27, 2008

Telegraph Fire Pace Slowed, Credit Great Firefighting

 

Upon signing out for the day Telegraph Air Attack reported to Telegraph Operations the fire is doing "much better than yesterday".

He described how earlier in the day they successfully worked from the south then north. He acknowledged he couldn't see through the smoke to give a final overhead impression of the activity occurring in the east and northeast flanks.

Division R is trying to keep the fire from running in to the Rancheria Creek Road and Colorado Road area just west of Midpines.

The evening 209 is not yet published so no new acreage figures are available.

Here is a video taken by a Mariposa resident yesterday. This is what contributed to the 40,000 ft convection column visible from all points in the Central Valley of California. Ash from the Telegraph Fire covered cars in Fresno and Clovis 50 miles away.

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Telegraph Fire: More Evacuations, Mt Bullion Braces

 

View Larger Map

A hard closure is being requested for Jenkins Hill as numerous residents are sheltering in place. Listening to the scanner feeds, (highly recommended), Branch 1 suggests the "Whitlock" and "Blue Oak Ridge" area is looking active and evacuations may be in order, shortly.

General traffic activity suggests the west side of the fire (Bear Valley) is looking better but fire activity on the east is another story.

Structure protection at Mt Bullion Camp is being beefed up. Crews within Branch 1 are chasing spots, supported by engines and helicopters when available. Some crews have been pulled back to safety zones in a hurry in another division.

Latest report is the fire is moving briskly north/northeast deeper into the Merced River canyon. Further evacuations are being contemplated.



If you choose to listen to the scanner (linked above) you will hear air attack and tactical nets.

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Telegraph Fire Update: 18,000 Acres No Containment

 

Quick facts;

Thirteen structures have been lost including 6 homes.
1,922 fire personnel are on scene.
18,145 acres burned
Zero percent containment


From the recent 209;
The northeast end of the community of Mariposa (Avaca Vale, French Camp and Penny Royal Roads) is is being impacted by the fire at this time. A pre-evacuation advisement was issued to the commumities of Midpines and Briceburg. Active fire behavior is being observed in all directions primarily in the south and east flanks near the advisement areas.

The map below shows the active burning areas discussed in the 209. MODIS has not caught up with reported fire movement.

GeoMAC supports the 209 regarding the active burning areas. GeoMAC also indicates spotting well ahead of the main fire to the north.

More from the incident report filed midday today:

*Today's observed fire behavior: The fire has not started major movement at this time, however the fire is very active on the south and east flanks. Spotting has been observed on the active flanks.

*There are significant road closures in the area of the fire. The power to Yosemite Valley is out. The water supply system for the Mariposa Public Utility District is threatened. Repeater sites are threatened. Mount Bullion Conservation Camp is threatened. The northeast flank of the fire is posing an immediate threat to the Stanislaus National Forest within Federal Responsibility Area. Accessibility problems continue to damper suppression efforts due to steep, rocky and isolated terrain.

*The communities of Mariposa, Coulterville, Greenley Hill may be impacted. The Merced River BLM Wilderness Study area is immediatly threatened. The fire is moving toward the boundaries of the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests. An evacuation center has been established at the Mariposa Elementary School.

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Telegraph Fire Not Near & No Threat to Yosemite

 
The national cable news channels are headlining the Telegraph Fire as a "Yosemite Fire".
The fire is burning near and around Mariposa, (population of 1,400, [County 17,000]), 27 miles from Yosemite National Park.
Top local coverage of the Telegraph Fire can be found at the Sierra Sun Times.

Click images to expand.

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Telegraph Fire Spreads North & South Overnight

 
Information on the Telegraph Fire is tough to obtain this morning. The last incident 209 report was generated at midnight. I cannot find any local bloggers with new information and the local newspaper is relying on reports from Telegraph Fire command to this point.

Some amazing images of the fire can be viewed here.

I wanted to get these maps up with current fire numbers but I'll update as soon as the 209 is available.

Today is a defining day for this incident.


To view this fire and all active fires nationwide download Google Earth here. The map above is a KML overlay on Google Earth processed by this US Forest Service office.

The image below is generated by GeoMAC. (The Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group)

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July 26, 2008

Telegraph Fire: From 1k to 18k Acres In First 30 Hours

 
The Telegraph Fire is burning in an area that has no recorded fire activity. The fire has the potential to overrun communities. Midpines on Highway 140 and Bear Valley on Highway 49 are the most vulnerable overnight. No one is sleeping with both eyes closed in Mariposa tonight.

Power has been lost in Yosemite Valley.

This is a multi-headed fire with no containment. Resources are pouring in from all points to augment the force of 800 plus already assembled. 600 of the 800 on scene are Cal Fire personnel.
This is a State fire so Cal Fire will maintain command unless it moves into Federal land. Even if the Feds. assume command Cal Fire structure protection resources will stay as long as a threat exists.



From the updated 209-

Values at Risk: include communities, critical infrastructure, natural and cultural resources:
Next 12 hours: Communities of Midpines, Mariposa, Greeley Hill, Coulterville, Bear Valley, Mt. Bullion Camp 70kv transmission lines that feed the Yosemite Valley are out. Communication towers for television and radio, as well as repeater sites are threatened.

Remarks:

If the fire continues in the current paths, the communities of Mariposa, Coulterville, Greeley Hill, Midpines,and Bear Valley will be impacted. The Merced River BLM Wilderness Study area is threatened. The fire is moving toward the boundaries of the Sierra and Stanislaus National Forest. An evacuation center has been established at the Mariposa High School.


Above you can see the fire burning west towards Bear Valley. The fire will make a run downhill towards Bear Valley and try to cross Highway 49. The fire already breached the east side of Highway 140 near Midpines.

Below is the view as seen from Google Earth looking north from Mariposa. (click image to enlarge)

Here is a picture of the ice cap from above at approximately 5:00 pm local time from RAMSDIS. Click the link and then refresh your browser for an updated image. Mariposa is center/right on the image below.

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Telegraph Fire: Evacuations Pending In Mariposa County

 
The one day old Telegraph Fire has burned 1,000 acres in Mariposa County. The fire is minimally contained and is presenting accessibility problems for incoming equipment.

The fire is throwing up quite a plume. RAMSDIS offers a very clear satellite image of smoke from all active fires in California.


View Larger Map

From the initial ICS-209

If fire continues in its current paths, the communities of Mariposa, Coulterville, and Greely Hill will be impacted. Currently the Merced River BLM Wild and Senic is threatened and will have fire spread there today.

Evacuation Warning to 150 homes with Potential for warning and advisory to 300 homes. Because of diverse topography dozer line and hand line will dominate efforts. Most significant progress was dozer line construction in Branch III, Telegraph Ridge to Telegraph Peak.


Local Images.
More as information becomes available.

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Firefighter Andrew Palmer Dies In Line Of Duty

 
Too young!
A reminder not all our bravest Americans are serving overseas.

YubaNet reports:

"National Park Service firefighter Andrew Palmer, 18, a firefighter with the Olympic National Park headquartered in Port Angeles, Wash. died while en route to Redding, Calif. this evening. He was being transported for emergency treatment of multiple injuries.Forest Service officials learned of the fatality at approximately 5:45 p.m.

"Each and every member of the firefighting community feels a tragedy of this type. We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Andrew, who selflessly served to protect," said Shasta-Trinity National Forest Supervisor Sharon Heywood. "

Condolences to the family and friends of Firefighter Andrew Palmer.

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July 25, 2008

Forest Service Head Pops In On Basin Complex Fire Camp

 
U.S. Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell visited the Basin Complex incident base today. Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley and her command staff also entertained an incident management team from South Carolina who were flown in to observe.
On July 17 Ms. Pincha-Tulley was brought in from another fire to take over for the departing Mike Deitrich.

I stand by my theory she was brought in to smooth out rough edges that emerged between the community and the Deitrich team. These rough edges include the general treatment of Big Sur residents who stayed to defend their homes and more specifically residents of Partington Ridge, Apple Pie Ridge and the Tassajara Mountain Center.

True to form Pincha-Tulley has been visible and available to her firefighters and the community. A person would be hard pressed to find one negative word written about her on any fire she has managed.

So it's not surprising Ms. Kimbell is calling on the Pincha-Tulley camp. The California Interagency Incident command Team 3 (CIIMT3) operates a model USFS camp.

Read how Jeanne Pincha-Tulley earned the respect of the residents of Ketchum Idaho last year here.
(Image as part of linked article)

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Basin Complex Scars 152,000 Acres, End Near

 
Basin Complex command estimates the final total acreage will be 162,818 with a final cost of $78,000,000.
Current containment is estimated is at 79% though a containment line has been around the perimeter for more than a week. Firefighters are burning out any green left inside lines, dropping snags and removing equipment.

Full scale demobilization of the remaining 1,400 fire personnel will begin on July 30.

It turns out the Pico Blanco Boy Scout camp sustained damage. Earlier reports suggested the camp came away undamaged. Firefighters were positioned at the camp as the fire swept through. According to The Californian most of the buildings were saved but some infrastructure and the camp ranger's house burned.

Surely the entire camp would have been destroyed had firefighters pulled out. Kudos to the crews that battled the flames in that canyon.

The combined acreage between the Basin Complex and the adjoining Indians Fire will exceed 240,000. Though the fires merged they will be treated as separate events. It's noteworthy the total area burned between the linked fires place it at number three on the list of largest California wildfires in state history.

While the two fires will keep their own identity they are being managed as one by the Basin ICS team. A reference is mentioned in today's morning report.

"Actions planned for next operational period:
Day Operations: In the areas of Paloma Creek, Miller and River Canyons, continue mop up and patrol. Continue interior burnout operations South of the Los Padres Dam as needed and mop up. Complete burning operations and mop up around Arroyo Seco. Provide contingency resources and mop up for the affected area of Tanbark. The Southern perimeter will be patrolled by air. Begin rehab for the East Basin and continue rehab for the Indians Fire. "

Here is an image from GeoMAC captured at 1700hrs today July 25. You can clearly see how the Basin command are blackening all green areas within the burn.

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July 24, 2008

Tanker 910, California's Best Firefighting Investment Ever

 
...besides the dedicated men and women of CalFire of course.



Box seats at a World Series game seven couldn't equal these ridge top tickets.

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July 21, 2008

Western States Drought Map Summer 2008

 
Maps and graphs from the National Drought Mitigation Center University Of Nebraska-Lincoln .


Click Maps to Expand


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Firefighter Shot and Killed Exiting Engine On Scene

 
Twenty-two year old paramedic/firefighter Ryan Hummert of the Maplewood Fire Department in Maplewood, Mo. was shot and killed as he exited his fire engine at 5:40 am today July 21.
Story, from AP via Yahoo!
A good and decent young man serving his community goes down in a senseless manner. Condolences to Ryan's family.

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July 20, 2008

Tale of Two Learning Centers, U.C. Berkeley & San Francisco Zen Center

 
Both maintain learning retreats in the same forest, both share a similar mission of teaching. Both respect the land they occupy. Both strive to do right by nature and society.

The University of California's Hastings Reserve is one of 36 reserves in the Nature Reserve Systems maintained by the University of California. The NRS mission statement;

"The mission of the Natural Reserve System is to contribute to the understanding and wise management of the Earth and its natural systems by supporting university-level teaching, research, and public service at protected natural areas throughout California."

The San Francisco Zen Center maintains a mountain retreat situated in the Ventana Wilderness called the Tassjara Zen Center. The Zen Center mission includes;

"The purpose of Zen Center is to make accessible and embody the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha as expressed in the Soto Zen tradition established by Dogen Zenji in 13th-century Japan and conveyed to us by Suzuki Roshi and other Buddhist teachers...."

I followed the Tassajara story as they prepared for and then met the Basin Fire with no help. We will continue to marvel at the story of the "Tassajara Five" and the brave defense of their Center.
Here are the firefighting monks that saved the Zen Center as the Basin Fire swept in from four fronts on July 10.


Image Mako Voelkel Flickr

Here are the firefighters and equipment situated as a structure protection force at the Hastings Reserve while firing operations are conducted a couple of miles away.


Images: UC Berkeley Hastings Reserve blog

Two learning centers, two responses. The University of California research center deserves this protective force. The Buddhist center deserved help as well but was denied.

The obvious question is why?

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