As we continue into the holiday season around the world it is winter in the United States and Summer in Australia. Summer in Australia means bushfire season and State of Western Australia has a few tankers and helicopters available to help the firefighters on the ground including two Black Hawk Helicopters that I believe are from Coulson Aviation. Their bushfire season has gotten off to a busy start with 1,611 bushfires since October. I saw this fun video from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA which they shared on their Facebook page with some holiday music showing featuring some firefighting helicopters and tankers. Unfortunately, when I embedded the video, I was not able to share the text accompanying the video which should be found here, hit the see more link in the top right to read the full text.
Friday, December 08, 2023
Wednesday, December 06, 2023
I do have a fireplace in my house which I have not used in years partly for various reasons. But when I did use the fireplace, I admit to improper storage of the ashes from my fireplace. I used to store them in my garage in a large metal bucket without a lid. I was lucky. I have been thinking about fire safety of late and what I can do as a homeowner so when I saw a post on Facebook from District A1 about the safe storage of cold ashes from you fireplace, woodburning stove or grill I knew what I wanted to post today.
Monday, December 04, 2023
In the years that I have been writing this blog on aerial wildland firefighting and related issues, I have frequently come upon the term "wildland urban interface (WUI)", put simply the wildland urban interface is when residential or business development exists next to or in close proximity to undeveloped lands. For example, I have frequently read about the problems caused by residential development in the WUI in areas such as the western United States and in the mountains or large undeveloped lands in the east. The problem posed by the development in the WUI is not just a problem in the west or in the mountains, the WUI can be found across the United States in all States to varying degrees.
Just because your State may have a smaller percentage of development in the WUI does not mean that the problem of wildfires in or near the wildland urban interface is non-existent or minimal. For example, I live in what I call a semi-rural neighborhood in central New Jersey. My neighborhood has many residences but there are some undeveloped areas on or near my street. My risk of being impacted by a wildfire in this undeveloped area is lower than out west or in the mountains, but there is a slight risk. Moreover, if there were such a wildfire in my neighborhood that started in one of these undeveloped parcels of land, unlike in remote and difficult to access locations, first responders and the NJ Forest Fire Service would have easy and quick access.
There is a nice website from FEMA devoted to the wildland urban interface that may be found on their page on "What is the WUI?". They have some important facts on the extent of the WUI including a map from the U.S. Forest Service showing the Number of houses in the WUI relative to the total houses in the state (%) for the lower 48 States. Here are some important facts about the WUI from FEMA's WUI page:
- More than 60,000 communities in the United States are at risk for WUI fires.
- Between 2002 and 2016, an average of over 3,000 structures per year were lost to WUI fires in the United States.
- The WUI area continues to grow by approximately 2 million acres per year.
Friday, December 01, 2023
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Following up on the article I wrote on November 27th about Coulson Tankers heading to Australia, Tanker 133, a C-130H tanker, arrived in Richmond, New South Wales (NSW) Australia on Monday. Australia likes to assign nicknames to air tankers, Tanker 133 is known as Froy. She is ready to help the NSW Rural Fire Service. Tanker 137, a 737 Fireliner, will be arriving soon and will start a contract on December 1st as a large airtanker available nationally to all of Australia to work bushfires. For more information see this November 27th article from Australian Aviation (I used one of my three free articles, so there is a paywall).
Froy, which was recently converted can carry up to 4,000 US gallons of retardant See this March 2023 article from Skies Magazine for some more background on Coulson's airtankers including tanker 132 (see below). Some information for Coulson has information on each aircraft in their fleet of firefighting aircraft on their fleet page.
Coulson Tanker 132, also a C-130H tanker, landed in Australia on or about October 21st.
She worked her first bushfire about a a few days later, flying out of Richmond NSW.
Monday, November 27, 2023
As Coulson finishes fall maintenance on their airtankers, those that are on contract or otherwise committed to Australia for their summer bush fire season are being sent to Australia. Tanker 133 is on her way to Richmond New South Wales Australia
Tanker 137 departed yesterday for Australia. I am not quite sure where exactly in Australia Tanker 137 is going, but I know that she will serve where needed. Nor do I know the exact details of how many more tankers Coulson is sending to Australia.
Thanks to Coulson, the tanker pilots and support staff for helping out our friends in Australia during their summer bush fire season.
I continue reporting on the Matts Creek Fire that was first reported on November 12th (see my November 22nd post for past updates.
Friday, November 24, 2023
I have been reading a book about women in in the very early days of aviation: Before Amelia: Women Pilots in the Early Days of Aviation by Eileen F. Lebow. While many women were involved in ballooning and dirigibles, including some of the first female airplane pilots, the women that I have read about flew airplanes. The first women to obtain a pilot's license was the Raymonde de LaRoche (from France) on March 10, 1910, earning license # 36 issued by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. I must note that she was not the first female airplane pilot but she did obtain the first pilot's license issued to a women.
P.S. (added on November 27th) I think but am not certain that Raymonde de Laroche was not born into being a Baroness, at some point someone called her Baroness and it stuck.
Thursday, November 23, 2023
As I pause today to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family I am taking time to remember all that I am grateful for. I post this in thanksgiving and gratitude for wildland firefighters on the ground and in the air along with those that provide invaluable support behind the scenes. I remember the structure firefighters who may provide structure protection along with the other first responders such as law enforcement and EMTs. Some of you are away from your family and friends working on the fireline so that we may be safe. I write this so that you know that I am thinking of you today as you work the fireline or doing behind the scenes work or are on call as first responders. I want you to know that what you do matters and I know that you are sacrificing your time with your family and friends to do this important service. I pray for your safety.
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
I continue reporting on the Matts Creek Fire that was first reported on November 12th (see my November 20th post). At the time that I write this, the Matts Creek Fire has burned 11,020 acres and is at 57 percent containment. A substantial rainfall last night (about 3.5") aided the efforts of the firefighters who took a dat off of the fireline for training and the like. The firefighters returned the fireline today to continue working the fire. See this November 22nd update. The Blue Ridge Parkway is now open but the heavy rainfall last night may lead to some debris spills in the fire area.
The map below was created on November 21st.
|Obtained on November 22, 2023 from Matts Creek Fire Nov 21st Fire Mapping on Inciweb|
Monday, November 20, 2023
A friend of mine contacted me early this past weekend to ask me if I knew about a wildfire that was burning in or near the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia because she had been in touch with a friend who lives near that wildfire. She told me that at the time it was at 2 percent containment and her friend was reporting that the nearby schools were closed due to smoke. I believe, but am not sure that the wildfire my friend was telling me about is the Matts Creek Fire that at that time was at 2 percent containment. I promised my friend that I would keep an eye on the Matts Creek Fire, hence this post.
The video that I embedded above was done prior to the latest update (November 20th) from incident command which reports that the Matts Creek Fire has burned 10,106 acres and is at 27 percent containment. There are road closures in place, and trails in and near the fire area are closed. Here is an excerpt from the November 20th update:
In the northeastern portion of the fire, near Snowden, crews continued to improve fire lines and the area is looking very good and forward progression has stopped. Crews will search for and extinguish any “hot spots” in logs, stumps and under the ground.
In the southeastern portion of the fire near Big Island and Powells Store, fire activity was minimal. Firefighters patrolled the area and removed fire-damaged trees.
In the southwestern area fire lines have held well, increasing containment to 27 percent.
Firefighters continued to watch the Hercules Fire, a small fire that started yesterday across the James River. A local volunteer fire department had responded and contacted crews on the night shift for additional help. The fire was slightly under one acre in size. Crews will continue to monitor this fire throughout the day.Here are some maps starting with two Google Earth images. The fire is near Snowden, Virginia. I then share a map of the Matts Creek Fire.
|obtained on November 20, 2023 from https://inciweb.wildfire.gov/incident-maps-gallery/vavaf-matts-creek-fire|