Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sixteen Mile Fire, Poconos PA: Update #1

Update: April 26, 2016 at 9:40 AM EDT (scroll down for later updates)

I wrote on April 25th about the Sixteen Mile Fire that started near Wilkinson Lake in Monroe County, PA last Wednesday (April 20th), and has burned south and east into Pike County, PA. The wildfire has burned over 7,800 acres and is at 35% containment as of the evening of April 25th. Investigators have determined that this fire along with a second fire which is now contained were intentionally set. In an update to their Facebook page, Pennsylvania Forests wrote late in the day on April 25th (go here to read the full post):
The fire is estimated to be at 35% containment, but low humidity, rugged terrain, combined with highly flammable fuel types will continue to be problematic factors in controlling the fire. The region may receive up to a half-inch of rain through Tuesday morning, so that precipitation may benefit firefighters somewhat. ... Fire investigators have determined that the now contained Bear Town fire, as well as the continuing Sixteen-Mile fire were intentionally set. The Bureau of Forestry is offering a $5,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible for setting these fires. Anyone with confidential information can call 717-362-1472 or 570-895-4000. 
A public meeting is schedule for 7:30 PM on Wednesday April 27th at the East Stroudsburg North High School, see this Facebook post from Pennsylvania Forests for more information.

The Pocono Record (Howard Frank; April 25th) continues to report on the Sixteen Mile Fire with updates on the evacuation orders and wildland firefighters coming from around the U.S. to help. Residences under the April 24th evacuation order are seasonal homes with only one resident affected by the evacuation order who is being assisted by the local Red Cross. A hotshot crew from New Mexico, the Smokey Bear Hotshots team has been called in as well as a Type 2 Incident Management Team from Wisconsin.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over the wildfire until Thursday, April 25th at 12:30 PM UTC, from the surface up to and including 5,000 ft AGL. As I write this information on the FAA TFR may be found here, when the TFR expires, the link will no longer work. The TFR is in place to allow for safe operations of firefighting aircraft (two SEATs and helos as well as any observation aircraft).

Some rain, under 1/2 an inch fell at the nearby Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport the night of April 24th/25th. I understand that some rain or showers with the possibility of thunderstorms are forecast over Pike and Monroe Counties (PA) today (April 25th). Any showers will help, but I don't know if it will be the type of rain that will help the wildland firefighters.

Update: April 26 at 4:50 PM EDT

According to the latest update from 69 WFMZ News (April 26th 2:35 PM EDT) the Sixteen Mile Fire has burned an estimated 8,030 acres and is currently at 40 percent containment. Eleven structures are reported to be destroyed including three seasonal homes, two cabins and six outbuildings, One person has been injured, no information is available.

There is a very short update (with photos) from the morning briefing to wildland firefighters on the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Facebook page that may be found here where DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn thanked all the firefighters (local and out of state) who are working to contain the wildfire.

The Pocono Record has a short article on the fire, written on April 26th ( by Kevin Kunzmann, last update at 3:25 PM EDT). Kunzmann spoke to Jim Hyland of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about the efforts to contain the fire:
Two-thirds of the fire in its southern region has “good containment,” Hyland said, while its progressing blaze in the north has been the most difficult to contain. ...
The focus of work has been on creating containment lines, Hyland said, with plans to connect lines from east and west before burning out fields. Although rainfall Monday night was beneficial for the crews, the effect was minimal. 

... Hyland said the reason for slow development on containment is due to the DCNR's required assurance that an area is absolutely fire proof before confirming containment. 
Once it is 100 percent confirmed that the fire cannot cross a portion of the land, the area is considered contained (Despite rain, 16-Mile Fire still burns by Kevin Kunzmann, Pocono Record, April 26 2016; obtained on April 26, 2016 from http://www.poconorecord.com/news/20160426/despite-rain-16-mile-fire-still-burns)
Stay safe everyone!

April 26th at 9:26 PM

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today has posted an article on the Sixteen Mile Fire earlier this afternoon (April 26). Bill also has the Fire Aviation Blog. Earlier today (April 26th), Gabbert posted a nice photograph taken by one of the pilot of one of the SEATs working the Sixteen Mile Fire of a second SEAT also working the same fire. According to Gabbert, both SEATs are AT-802s operated by New Frontier Aviation.

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