Monday, November 23, 2015

tanker pilots playing some tunes

Well, I was hoping to make my next post in my series on the Soda Fire Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation today, recall that I my first post last Wednesday, November 18th. Now I really to have a draft of this article, but at this point in my day I would be posting a half-baked article, and I don't want to do that. Rather, I am going to take a little more time to do the necessary tweaks and the like. Hopefully I will be able post this tomorrow.  I will be posting this on November 25.

In the meantime have some fun watching a couple of tanker pilots play some tunes.

Direct link to video

Friday, November 20, 2015

Civilian meteorologists receive purple heart 73 years later

I am taking a time out from writing about the Burned Area Emergency Response for the 2015 Soda Fire to honor four civilian meteorologists who gave their lives in service to their country during World War II. Four meteorologists were serving as volunteers on the Muskeget, a U.S. Coast Guard ship that was patrolling the Atlantic during the Battle of the Atlantic in September 1942. The meteorologists were collecting and transmitting weather observations to aid American ships in the North Atlantic. The Muskeget was on its way to southern Greenland when a German U-Boat struck and sank the Muskeget. There were 121 men on board the Muskeget including the four meteorologists. While those in the military who were on board the Muskeget received Purple Heart, the civilian meteorologists did not. There were provisions to award Purple Hearts to civilians but this slipped through the cracks. It was through the efforts of a Purple Heart historian, Robert Pendleton to bring the oversight to light making the award of these four Purple Hearts possible.

Lester S. Fodor (27), weather observer from Cleveland, Ohio
Luthor H. Brady (27), assistant weather observer from Atlanta, Georgia
George F. Kubach (24), assistant weather observer from Sandusky, Ohio
Edward Weber (24), junior weather observer from Brooklyn, New York

May you rest in peace.

Direct link to report (with audio) on NPR

I first read about the four meteorologists in a November 18th Washington Post article.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Soda Fire (2015): Burned Area Emergency Response - Introduction

The Soda Fire, probably caused by lightning on or about August 10th of this year, burned 279,144 acres before it was controlled on August 25th. The fire was declared "out" on September 9th. See the Inciweb page for the Soda Fire and the Soda Fire 2015 Facebook Page for more information. If you are arriving on this page some time after I first posted this article, I am not quite sure how long either the Inciweb page for the 2015 Soda Fire or the Soda Fire 2015 Facebook page, probably for several months.

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today did a great job reporting on the Soda Fire in this post (scroll to bottom for earliest information) and he shared a video of a fire whirl shot by Graig Fluer on August 17th.

Here is some footage of the Soda Fire shot on August 20th

Direct link to video

And a 48 hour time lapse of the fire (August 12th to August 14th)

Direct link to video

Shortly after the fire was contained planning begain for the burned area emergency response. I'll be writing a couple of articles on the plans for the emergency stabilization and rehabilitation of the burned area starting on November 20th. In the meantime, if you want to see my earlier posts on Burned Area Emergency Response, go to this link (posts tagged BAER).

Before leaving, here is some aerial footage of the burned area shot on August 18th.

Direct link to video

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fall 2015 wildfire season continues

The fall 2015 wildfire season continues. Here are some, but not all, smaller wildfires that I have heard about.

Hawaii - 220 acres (Friday November 13, 2015)
KHON2 220 acre brush fire in pasture land burned on Friday November 13th. A helicopter assisted the firefighters on the ground with bucket drops.

Melbourne, Florida (Monday November 16, 2015)
Florida Today A small brush fire was brought under control by the Melbourne and Brevard County Fire Departments today (Monday November 16th).

Carthadge, Missouri (reported on Monday November 16, 2015)
The Carthadge Press Last Wednesday, November 11, 2015) a wind-driven grass fire burned near a hospital in Carthadge, Missouri. There were some power failures. Fortunately the firefighters stopped the progress of the fire before it reached the hospital.

Fairview, North Carolina (reported on Saturday November 14, 2015)
Citizen Times A brush fire was first reported about 2 PM on Friday, November 13th in Fairview, North Carolina burned 30 acres before being contained just before midnight.

Staten Island, New York City, New York (November 13, 2015)
New York Magazine - Daily Intelligencer amd SILiveA brush fire was reported on Staten Island last Friday, November 13th. At least 200 firefighters fought the fire.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tanker history - Conair DC-6 T-48 circa 1990

In my wonderings on Youtube just now I was reminded of this video. from 1990, of Conair DC-6 T-48 getting a load of retardant and then working a fire the Thunder Fire near La Ronge, Saskatchewan in June 1990. This may be a rerun from about four years ago. I enjoyed seeing this video again, and I hope that you do as well. Enjoy.

Direct link to video on Youtube

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Wildfire season not over yet - November 12

Wildfire season is not over yet. Today I am focusing on a sampling of wild fires, brush fires, and grass fires that I have read about yesterday and today. Many of the smaller fires in the Eastern United States that I report on here are related to dry conditions in the east. A reminder that the fall fire season is still very much with a factor in much of the east.

Peabody, Massachusetts
Thirteen acres burned near an apple orchard on Tuesday, Nov. 10th. This brush fire came after some smaller nearby brush fires on Sunday and Monday. The Massachusetts State Forestry Department and local firefighters worked the fire. Massachusetts like other East-coast States has seen dry conditions this fall, contributing to the brush fire danger.

Cape Ann, Massachusetts
A brush fire of unknown size in Manchester, MA damaged an electric transformer on Tuesday, November 10th leading to outages. 

New Hampshire
Dry conditions across New Hampshire contributed to several brush fires across New Hampshire this past weekend (November 7th and 8th).
Union Leader

Lebanon, Pennsylvania
A brush fire of unknown size in Lebanon, PA on Sunday, November 8th.
ldnews- Nov 9th police log (scroll down for story)

Mentor Township, Ohio
On Tuesday, November 10th, A five acre fire burned in a marsh in Mentor Township, Ohio 

Pembroke Pines, Florida
On Monday, November 9th there was a small brush fire (size unknown). 

And wildfire season is still going in other areas of the United States, for example . . .

Oklahoma and Kansas

Strong winds are fueling grass fires across the Oklahoma Plains. A large grass fire near Woodward, OK is under control.

Wind driven wildfires continued in Oklahoma on November 11th

A wind-driven grass fire on the Butler-Cowley county line in Kansas burned on November 11th. Red flag warnings are in place for much of the Kansas City area in Kansas on Thursday, November 12th.

Is there ever not a fire season in Southern California? Southern California, which is bone dry after four years of drought, is again facing an elevated risk of wildfires due to Santa Ana winds and rising temperatures.


A note about the media sources: I accessed all these sites today. Some sites offer only a limted number of free articles per month if you are not a subscriber or the articles may only be freely available for 7 to 10 days. Over the air media usually keep their stories up longer, but eventually the link to the story may be removed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans Day - thanks for your service

I want to take a time out today to remember all of our veterans who served my country, the United States of America, and those veterans from outside the U.S. who have served your country. As I have grown older, I have my respect and admiration for your service in the military (past or present) has also grown. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all veterans from around the world.

There are some of you who are able to spend time in service to your country at military units in your own country and perhaps close to your home, if you are lucky. In today's day and age, you often have deployments to military bases overseas, away from your home, family, and friends. While the internet may make keeping in touch with your loved ones easier than it was 40 years ago, it is not the same as being there.

I am not a veteran and have never been in the miltary. My Dad served stateside after the Koren War ended. No, I don't have a clue what it is like to serve in areas where there is a conflict. Please know that your service and your sacrifice mattered.

Over the years that I have been writing this blog, I know that there are some wildland firefighters both in the air and on the ground who have spent some time in the military. And here you are serving your country once again as wildland firefighters.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Brush fire - Mt. Tom - Holyoke MA and B-17 crew remembered

I have a few websites that I monitor just about every day to get an idea of current news relating to wildfires. As I was reading the news late this morning I came across a newsclip about a brush fire on Mt. Tom in Holyoke MA. I'll get to the eighteen acre brush fire in a moment.

The reason the article on the brush fire on Mt. Tom caught my eye is because Mt. Tom is one of those natural landmarks that stood out to me on many trips up I-91 in Massachusetts on my way to northern New England. It is a ski and recreation area, so there were a couple of bill boards advertising Mt. Tom.  Not only that, but she was a mountain that I always noticed. I regret that I have not yet stopped to visit her. Hopefully there is time for that on a later trip, I'll have to make time.

As I was reading the Wikipedia article on Mt. Tom, I noted that the mention of a crash of converted B-17 bomber in 1946 on Mt. Tom in 1946 killing all 25 on board. Small pieces of the wreckage are still on the mountain and a momument was erected at the site in 1946. For those who are interested, here is a copy of the July 10, 1946 Fitchberg Sentinal article reporting on the crash. They were returning from overseas, going home. They never quite made it. I know that all who died in that crash are flying in favorable tail winds. May you continue to rest in peace.

Back to the wildfire. According to news reports, the brush fire began at about 7 PM on Sunday night, November 8th. Darkness meant that firefighters pulled out to resume fighting the brush fire this morning. The fire, which burned approximately 18 acres is now contained. Speaking of I-91, smoke was visible from I-91 during the morning commute. I am reminded that it is fall here in the east with a lot of leaf litter on the ground with more to come, and it was breezy yesterday. Hopefully all the hotspots are or will soon be out so that fallen leaves will not be a problem. Firefighters from the Massachusetts Forest Fire Control and near by Holyoke worked the fire

News reports on the brush fire on Mt. Tom

Friday, November 06, 2015

Wildfires in Indonesia - update

The Indonesian wildfires that I first reported on October 12, 2015 continue to burn. I am going to share a few links about these wildfires. Respitory problems continue. Schools and businesses are closed. Residents are evacuated from their homes.

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today writes on November 4, 2015 that the United States sent “more than 21 metric tons of wildland firefighting equipment arrived in Indonesia from the United States to assist firefighters who are dealing with what has been described as ‘almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century.' He also provides a good summary of some of the other effects of these wildfires in Indonesia, including the detrimental effects of smoke.

Most of the Indonesian wildfires may be attributed to plantation companies clear land by burning in order to plant timber trees and palm trees. A Huffington Post Australia (11/2/15) article goes into more detail about how this works and elaborating on what was done differently this year:
The companies have cut canals and dried out the peat, the decaying vegetation matter on or under the forest floor, turning a valuable part of the ecosystem into a veritable tinderbox for fire. Coupled with El Nino climate factors, the fires met with the dried peat to spark a firestorm the likes of which have not been seen in Indonesia for some 20 years. The fires have also gone underground, burning and smouldering in the subterranean peat; these fires are all but impossible to extinguish and will burn almost endlessly, unable to be reached by rains or monsoon.
 The Huffington Post Australia article also includes some good photographs, a couple of videos, a map, and some recent satellite images of the wildfires that continue to burn in Indonesia.

More articles:

VoxyNZ (11/5/2015) Wellington Zoo in New Zealand donating $2000 from their conservation fund to help Indonesia fight the wildfires. The article also speaks to all the wildlife that is affected by these wildfires.

UPI (11/5/15) A good article and video from UPI on the closure of Mt. Merapi National Park because of smoke, school and businesses being forced to close and thousands of evacuations, ecological costs.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

CAL FIRE crews in action

Updated on November 13, 2015

The video that I had originally embedded here on CAL FIRE's inmate wildland firefighting crews has been taken down. Keeping to the overall theme of CAL FIRE crews, I am offering another video (from 2009) for your viewing pleasure.

Direct link to video