Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CL-415s scooping - Pioneer Fire (ID)

Here is a nice video that I just rain across, uploaded by Airailimages on August 21st, of two CL-415 scooping out of Deadwood Lake, Idaho in support of the Pioneer Fire. As I write this, the Pioneer Fire has burned 101,922 acres and is at 40 percent containment. The fire, burning eight miles north of Idaho City in the Boise National Forest, was first reported on July 18th, the cause is unknown. According to this August 24th news release on the Pioneer Fire's Inciweb page, evacuations remain in place. Depending on when you are accessing this article, there may be more current news releases on the Pioneer Fire's Inciweb page, you may access the latest news release here.


Direct link to video

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bluecut Fire - San Bernardino National Forest - Update #3

I wrote about the Bluecut Fire (San Bernardino National Forest, CA) on August 17th and August 19th. When I checked out the Bluecut Fire Inciweb page just now, I see that the fire has burned 37,020 acres and is at 89 percent containment. All or most the evacuation orders that were in place last week affecting approximately 82,000 people have been lifted. I-15 is open north and southbound through the Cajon Pass, and many other local roads are now open, in some cases to residents only.
A Damage Assessment Team working under the Blue Cut Fire Unified Command announced today that a preliminary estimate of 105 single family residences and 216 outbuildings were destroyed by the Blue Cut Fire, and 3 single family residences and 5 other structures were damaged (obtained on August 22, 2016 at 5:40 PM EDT from http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4962/ - Bluecut Fire Inciweb).
See this report from ABC News (dated August 22nd) for more information.

Honey CreekFire (Davis OK) contained

While much of the wildfire news of late is focused on various wildfires burning in California and other western States, I was reminded last week about the Honey Creek Fire (Davis, OK) that was burning last week in Oklahoma. The Honey Creek Fire started on Monday, August 15th and by Wednesday the 17the had burned 3,000 acres. Earlier in the week the Turned Falls Park had been evacuated but those evacuations were lifted on the 17th (see this article from Fox25). By Friday August 19th the Honey Creek Fire was contained, having burned 3,360 acres. I understand that aerial resources were used in containing the fire.

When my friend told me about this fire last Thursday, I was reminded that wildfires can crop at anytime, anywhere. I believe that dry conditions in that part of Oklahoma may have contributed to the Honey Creek Fire. I am glad that the fire has been contained, and I am not aware of any injuries or damaged/destroyed property.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Bluecut Fire - San Bernardino National Forest - update #2

I wrote about the Bluecut Fire here with some updates. As I write this at 9:40 AM EDT on August 19th, the Bluecut Fire has burned 35, 969 acres and is at 22 percent containment.

Here are some photos for you of the Bluecut Fire from San Bernardino County Fire

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bluecut Fire, San Bernardino National Forest

August 18, 2016 at 2:30 PM EDT

With better mapping the Bluecut Fire the area burned was downgraded to 25,626 acres, down from 30,000 acres last night. However the latest information from Inciweb's Bluecut Fire page (accessed at 2:30 PM EDT) shows that the fire has grown to 31,689 acres and is at at four percent containment. See this report from ABC7 in LA. Mandatory evacuations remain in place. There is still no count on the number of damaged and destroyed houses.  A few roads have re-opened, including I-15 northbound. I-15 southbound and other local roads in the fire area remain closed.

August 17, 2016 at 7:25 PM EDT

I spent a little time this afternoon watching some live stream coverage of the Bluecut Fire from ABC7 out of Los Angeles. I saw at least two Air Cranes dipping at a Lake and then dropping nearby defending Lytle Creek. In the time that I was watching a couple of tankers dropped on the fire, one of which was BAe-146 T-01 from Neptune Aviation. I understand that the community of Wrighwood is threatened (see this article from ABC7). Mandatory evacuation orders (including Wrightwood and Lytle Creek) along with road closures remain in place. There is still no containment and the fire has burned 30,000+ acres though that could change tonight.

Red Flag warnings remain in place over the Bluecut Fire through this evening local time.

For other media coverage:


August 17, 2016 at 12:25 PM EDT

Yesterday afternoon I got an e-mail alert about what is now known as the Bluecut Fire that started the morning of August 16th in San Bernardino National Forest east of Los Angeles, California. I was watching some live streaming footage of the fire from ABC7 out of Los Angeles. At the time I was watching this footage, about 5 PM EDT on August 16th, the fire had  burned about 1,800 acres up from 300 acres earlier that day. I am no expert on wildfire behavior, but I did have a creepy feeling about this fire. As I watched the footage, I saw at least one structure that was in flames, likely destroyed. And it seemed close to other structures as well. As the camera on the news helo zoomed out, I could see a line of retardant on the hillside. I saw some nice footage of two drops from a DC-10 tankers, one of which was tanker 910.

This morning, I woke up to reports from two other national media outlets, NPR (fire size reported at 18,000 acres earlier this morning) and a weather report from MSNBC (sorry I can't find a link for you, you'll have to trust me). I did find this report (with a video) on the Bluecut Fire from the Weather Channel with a map and a discussion of the drought and the winds. I was listening to a news radio station this morning (again no link) with a brief report on the fire. Point being that this fire is in the news.

As I write this at shortly after noon EDT on August 17th, the Bluecut fire has burned 30,000 acres and is not contained. Residences have been destroyed, evacuations (see below are in place), and there are numerous road closures in the area including but not limited to a portion of I-15.  Evacuation centers for humans and animals have been set up. I'd like to quote from Inciweb's latest incident overview on the Bluecut Fire (in large bold print near the top of the page, what you see may be different depending on when you access the Inciweb page:
There is imminent threat to public safety, rail traffic and structures in the Cajon Pass, Lytle Creek, Wrightwood, Oak Hills, and surrounding areas. Please follow the evacuation instructions, as this is a very quickly growing wildfire. An estimated 34,500 homes and 82,640 people are being affected by the evacuation warnings. (obtained on August 17, 2016 at 12:10 EDT from http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4962/)
I know from Inciweb's latest incident overview on the Bluecut Fire that the following air resources are available to work the fire: two Very Large Airtankers , 8 Airtankers, and eight helicopters.

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today has been providing his usual excellent coverage that I found here (with updates), including coverage of firefighters who were entrapped for a short time with two minor injuries. Bill also has some maps and other links with information about the Bluecut Fire.

There are a few media outlets in the Los Angeles area, I have been checking ABC7, and here is a report on the Bluecut Fire (last updated on August 17th at noon EDT) with a video or two and a photo gallery.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A little more on how IMETs use Weather Balloons

I was writing recently about what a National Weather Service Incident Meteorologist (aka IMET) does when they are assigned to a wildfire, see for example my August 10th article. One of the questions that I had was how an IMET might use a weather balloon and how does the radiosnode attached to the weather balloon transmit data while the balloon is ascending. That is, what might the data look like. Well, I found one answer to this question as I was poking around the internet this afternoon.

Please watch these two videos that I will embed below. In the first video, Ryan Walbrun, an IMET that was assigned to the Sobranes Fire (burned 72,566 acres in and near Los Padres National Forest, CA, and is at 60 percent containment) is interviewed. You will hear Mr. Walbrun discuss what IMETs do and what he did as an IMET on the Sobranes. One of the things that he discusses is that he monitored the height of the marine layer.



In the second video, you will see the IMET and his assistants launch the weather balloon, here about how Mr. Walbrun will use the data from the weather balloon to monitor the height of the marine layer (among other things), and get a chance to see some of the data that the radisnode is transmitting. Very cool, this brings out the weather geek in me.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A flight in EAA's B-17 Aluminum Overcast

I love the B-17 and when I was looking for something different and fun to post today, I came upon a video of EAA's B-17 Aluminum Overcast in flight. The video, uploaded to Youtube by David Sirak shows husband a wife team Ken and Lorraine Morris flying Aluminum Overcast over Orlando, Fl. Great footage from some GoPro Cameras. Looks like fun. Enjoy.


Direct link to video

Thursday, August 11, 2016

NJ Forest Fire Crew demobilized & more on IMETs

After I made yesterday's (August 10th) post , I found out that the New Jersey Forest Fire Service crew (NJS #1) has been demobilized from the Roaring Lion Fire. Not only did I see this reported on social media, but I also saw this reported on the August 10th Eastern Area Interagency Resources Representative (IARR) Crew Report, the latest report is available here. The IARR is, I think, updated a few times a week while crews from the Eastern Area are deployed outside the eastern area, so what you see may be different from the IARR that I saw last night. The IARR is available from the Eastern Area Coordination Center.

I'd like to thank the NJS #1 crew for all the good work that you did working the Roaring Lion Fire which has burned 8,274 acres to date and is at 65 percent containment. I understand that the crew visited the Smokejumper base in Missoula Montana, you may see their photo below.

I'm not quite sure if NJS #1 crew is coming home now or if they are going somewhere else. I'll update this post as I find out what they are doing.



And speaking of the Roaring Lion Fire, recall that I wrote about the IMET, Dan Borsum from NWS Billings Montana yesterday. I was able to get in touch with Mr. Borsum via e-mail yesterday thanks to the NWS Billings MT who forwarded my e-mail to him. I am very impressed by his dedication as an IMET to providing weather forecasts and briefings to keep all the firefighters working the Roaring Lion fire safe including but not limited to those from outside the area (like the NJS #1 crew and other crews from the east) who may have been unfamiliar with the area.

The Roaring Lion Fire is in the Bitterroot National Forest which includes some mountainous terrain. I know enough to know that  weather forecasts involving mountainous terrain such as the mountains in the Bitterroot National Forest can be challenging. I am again left with a renewed appreciation for the complex nature of weather forecasting, including fire weather forecasting. I was chatting with a now retired wildland firefighter last night about IMETs, he commented to me that IMETs save a lot of lives. Nice work Dan! Thank-you all IMETs.

Dan shared a photo with me of a thunderstorm that affected one of the camps at the Roaring Lion Fire one night. He gave me permission to share this with you. Wow. I'm glad that you were there to keep all safe from these thunderstorms.

Thunderstorm impacting Roaring Lion Camp

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Roaring Lion Fire - Incident Meteorologist

I have been writing about the Roaring Lion Fire recently, see my August 3rd and August 8th articles, because the New Jersey Forest Fire Service has a crew that is working the Roaring Lion Fire along with other crews from the Eastern Area. As I write this, the Roaring Lion Fire (in the Bitterroot National Forest near Hamilton Montana) remains at 8,274 acres and is at 60 percent containment, perhaps thanks in part to some cool and wet weather yesterday (see this August 9th report from KXLH 9 with video). Evacuation orders are still in place.

I want to take the opportunity to draw your attention to the very important work done by IMETs, also known as Incident Meteorologists. As I understand it, Incident Meteorologists are National Weather Service Meteorologists that have received special training to provide on-site weather forecasting services to incidents including but not necessarily limited to wildfires. Deployments typically last two weeks or until the wildfire is maintained, see this article on IMETs from the National Weather Service for more information. I am introducing IMETs now because there is an IMET working the Roaring Lion Fire, he describes what being an IMET involves in this video (uploaded on Aug 7th) that I found on Inciweb's Roaring Lion Fire photo page. One of the things that an IMET does is to launch a Weather Balloon with a radiosonde. A radiosonde has a variety of instruments to take upper air readings that Meteorologists use to help them make forecasts. Here is a very short video of the Roaring Lion Fire IMET launching a weather balloon. Here is an article describing yesterday's weather on the Roaring Lion Fire from NBC Montana.

I'd like to thank the IMET, Dan Borsum from the NWS Billings Montana Office, for all that he is doing providing meteorological services to the Roaring Lion Fire, to help the fire crews stay safe and work the fire effectively. Thank-you Dan! I share a brief reflection on what I am learning about IMETs and share a photo that Dan shared with me to share with you in my August 11th post.

Thanks to my friends from the NWS Mt. Holly for helping me with a brief fact check in writing this article.


Monday, August 08, 2016

NJ Forest Fire Service Crews working the Roaring Lion Fire

I wrote in my August 3, 2016 blog article that a New Jersey Forest Fire crew is working the Roaring Lion Fire. According to the latest Daily Managers Briefing from the Eastern Area Coordination Center (EACC, see note 1) this crew (known as NJS#1) was mobilized out west on July 29th. If I am not mistaken, this is a two week assignment. As I write this, the Roaring Lion Fire has burned 8,274 acres and is at 30 percent containment (this inciweb page is updated frequently while the fire is active, so you may see a later version). The cause of the fire, first reported on July 31st, is unknown.

I understand that there were evacuations in place and that some residents are allowed back in to their homes. An update on the evacuations (dated August 7th at 7:30 PM local time) from the Ravilli County Sheriff may be found here. According to an August 5th update from the Ravilli County Sheriff sixteen residences were destroyed and 49 outbuildings and nonresidential structures reported as seeing some level of damage from the fire.

The Missoulian (August 8th) is reporting on additional evacuations and closure of a portion of the Bitteroot River issued on August 8th.

Aircraft have worked the fire, see for example helo photo 1 and helo photo 2.

Additional Media reports on the Roaring Fire:
KPAX8 (August 5th) with photos
KPAX8 (August 7th)
Missoulian (August 7th)

Note 1: this briefing, also referred to as the Morning Briefing is updated daily so what you see may not be what I am referring to. The latest Morning Briefing (also referred to as the Daily Briefing or Managers Briefing) is posted on the EACC Intelligence Page under Predictive Services. If you want to see the latest Morning Briefing, go here.

Updated on August 11, 2016:  neglected to mention that when the Eastern Area Coordination Center has eastern area crews deployed outside the eastern area, that there is report known as the Interagency Resource Representative Report (IARR) that is updated when eastern crews are deployed outside the eastern region. The latest IARR report is available here.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Time for some helos (again)

I have been taking care of some personal business this week which is now resolved. Everything is good. Then I took some rest and recreation this afternoon. Many of you know that I have a special fondness for helo videos, so I am sharing some that came across my desk this week. Enjoy.


Direct link to video


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Direct link to video