Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

I want to pause on this Memorial Day to remember all who have served in the military. Thank-you for your service. I will never forget.

I'd like to share with you this 1944 documentary (color) about the Memphis Belle. She was just one of the many B-17 Flying Fortresses who served in World War II. And there were many other aircrews flying various bombers, fighters, etc. Some came home and some did not. And of course, the troops on the ground. And of course, we had air crews in World War 1, Korea, Vietnam, and in currently in the Middle East. I won't forget.

Direct link to video on Youtube (uploaded by The Best Film Archives)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Fort McMurray Alberta wildfire burned into Saskatchewan (May 27 update)

It has been over two weeks since I last wrote about the Fort McMurray (Alberta) wildfires on May 10th. I have seen this wildfire referred to as the Horse River Fire but I have no official word on this.

According to Update 25 (May 26, 2016) from the Alberta Government: this wildfire has burned more than 566,188 hectares (or 1,399,081 acres) in Alberta and 3,200 hectares (or 7,907 acres) in Saskatchewan. In addition to wildland firefighters from various provinces in Canada working the wildfire, the United States and South Africa have sent wildland firefighters (200 and 280 respectively) to fight this wildfire. Regarding aerial resources, there were 105 helicopters and 24 air tankers working the wildfire on May 26th. Utilities are in the process of being restored for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (includes Fort McMurray).

For more information:

(Thanks to Mike Archer's WNOTD updates)

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Catfish Fire Tower (NJ)

Anyone who has hiked on the Appalachian Trail (AT) has probably walked by the Catfish Fire Tower. For those of you who live in or visit northern New Jersey and are interested in hiking the AT to the Catfish Fire Tower, it is not a long hike going south on the AT from the parking area on State Highway 602 about a 15 minute drive from Blairstown NJ. There is also a nice loop hike you can take where you will walk back to the parking area on the AT you will walk by the fire tower, the New York New Jersey Trail Conference has a description of this loop hike with auto directions that may be found here. I have not done this loop trail in several years, but this was a regular hike when I was younger with younger knees. I'd recommend it. 

It is also visible from the air, and since I know that it is there and where it is, it isn't too hard for me to find from the air as long as I am paying attention. I have seen this fire tower on many of the flights I have taken with my pilot friends when we flew up the Appalachian Ridge from the Delaware Water Gap.

Just this morning, I found a nice short article from New Jersey Monthly on Bob Wollf of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service who is the current fire observer at the Catfish Fire Tower.  Here is an excerpt where he describes part of a typical day at the fire tower:
Wolff begins his daily eight-hour shift at about 10 am, when the temperature increases, the wind picks up and humidity drops. Settling in, he switches on the radio and reports to his base in nearby Andover. “Wolff operator is signing on, Channel 7- KYD- 797,” he calls in. 
And so the fire watch begins. In New Jersey, a fire observer’s job isn’t just detecting fires, but also dispatching aircraft, ground units and personnel. Once they are in action, the fire observer orchestrates the entire drama. 
Wolff listens for the wind and observes the tops of the trees to see if they are bending. He watches to see how quickly the clouds are moving, another indicator of the wind. Weather can be brutal and fast to change along the ridge top. On this morning, visibility is limited and the breeze is light, but I can feel the tower sway.

As I write this, the article from the May 2016 New Jersey Monthly may be found here. It is a short read, and I learned something about the work of a fire observer. I don't know how long this article will be freely available online.

Here are a couple of short videos about the Catfish Fire Tower.

Direct link to video

Direct link to video

Monday, May 23, 2016

Smokey Bear Hotshots (2015 Fire Season)

Some of you may recall that the Smokey Bear Hotshots came east to help fight the Sixteen Mile Fire that burned in the Poconos (PA) in late April 2016. Here is the Smokey Bear Hotshots 2015 Fire Season Video:

Direct link to video

Friday, May 20, 2016

Geronimo Hotshots (2015 Fire Season)

I have shared videos from the Geronimo Hotshots on a few other occasions, see for example: Jan 8, 2016, and two videos on their 2014 season part 1 and part 2. Finally the Geronimo Hotshots have a nice video on being a Geronimo Hotshot. Today I am sharing the Geronimo Hotshots 2015 Fire Season video:

Direct link to video

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Big Burn (1910)

I recently came across a documentary from American Experience (PBS) on Youtube about the 1910 Wildfire known as the Big Burn. I recall seeing this on PBS last year. It is well worth the time to watch it (about 55 minutes). Enjoy.

Monday, May 16, 2016

More on Heli-rappelling

I shared a video of the Salmon heli-rappell crew on May 11th, continuing with the work of helirappell crews, here are three more videos.

Rookie helirappell Training

Direct link to video

Helirappell Training

Direct link to video

Salmon Helirapplers Helmet Cam (2014)

Direct link to video

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bass River State Park (NJ) - Henry Fire

The Henry Fire was first reported on May 12, 2016 in remote area of the Bass River State Park in Bass River Township near the Burlington and Ocean County border. As of the evening of May 12th, the fire, which is burning near the Garden State Parkway, had burned about 460 acres and was at 60 percent containment. No residences are threatened.

For more information:
NBC10 - Philadelphia - report with video (May 12th, 10:37 PM EDT)
NJ dot com report (May 13th, 8:04 AM EDT)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fort Mc Murray (Alberta) wildfires - May 10th update

For those of you who are landing here to get updates on the wildfires that have been burning in and around Fort McMurray in Alberta Canada, I have made earlier posts on the wildfires on May 4th, May 5th (on the evacuations) and May 6th.

Here is some aerial footage from Global News, via Facebook (uploaded on May 7th) during a fly over of Fort McMurray. You will some of the destruction in the Abasand and Beacon Hills neighborhoods.

People are still urged to stay away from Fort McMurray, it may be at least two more weeks before it is safe for residents to return. Many areas of the city have no water, gas, or electricity. As I write this, the wildfires have burned 204,000 hectares (or almost 505,000 acres) and at least 2,400 homes and other structures have been destroyed. Government officials accompanied by media toured Fort McMurray yesterday. The downtown is largely intact and it is being reported that firefighters did save 85 percent of the structures in the city. See this CBC Edmonton article with videos and photos (last updated May 10th at 5:22 AM MT).

Here are some more photo galleries and videos:
Global News (photos and videos) during the May 9th media tour
TheStar (May 7th) photo gallery

Monday, May 09, 2016

Air Tractor Fire Boss in action

I took a needed time out today to watch a couple of nice videos showing Air Tractor's Fire Boss in action. I thought that you might enjoy these videos so I am sharing them here. The second video may be a rerun, and if so it is worth watching again.

Direct link to video on youtube

Direct link to video on youtube

Friday, May 06, 2016

Fort McMurray wildfires -- May 6th update

I posted another update with links to photos and videos of the Fort McMurray wildfire on May 10th

May 6 2016, 3:45 PM EDT

Some photos of the Fort McMurray wildfires for you:

May 6 2016, 11:40 AM EDT and updated at 1:20 PM EDT

I have been following the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alberta as best I can and as time allows. For those of you that might want to catch up you might want to see the article I wrote on May 4th with updates on May 5th. In addition, later on May 5th I shared a CBC interview with the gentlemen who shot some dash cam video as he was evacuating Fort McMurray this past Tuesday.

I was chatting over e-mail with a good friend, now retired from the wildland firefighting business, about the Fort McMurray wildfires. He commented that "sometimes Mother Nature takes charge and we just have to get out of the way." Got me thinking. I was hoping that I could easily find something amongst all the media coverage about the fire that would speak to that point. I saw this article in todays New York Times by Fernanda Santos called Forces of Nature Conspire Against Firefighters Around Fort McMurray (with a video). Here is an excerpt:
How do you stop a big, fast-moving wildfire like the one ravaging Fort McMurray, Alberta? The answer is, you can’t. 
Don Whittemore, a senior disaster response manager from Boulder, Colo., who has trained teams of firefighters in the United States and abroad, compared the task to “trying to stop a hurricane from hitting the Eastern Seaboard.”
Thank the stars that all of Fort McMurray and some towns to the south have been evacuated. On Tuesday, some evacuees went north the the oil sands worker camps. Starting early this morning, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been escorting evacuees and workers from the northern oil sands worker camps in convoys of 50 south of Fort McMurray. The Mounties will be leading and following the convoys with  a helicopter over head. The hope is that by the end of the day 1,500 who had been staying in the oil sands worker camps will be evacuated to places south of Fort McMurray. For more information on these convoys see this CBC Edmonton report (with videos, last updated May 6th, 11 AM MT) and a report from the Edmonton Journal (with videos and photos).

If any of you are looking for some maps of the Fort McMurray area, here is a nice interactive report from the New York Times (May 4th) with a map, photos, and a video. I found a map of the Fort McMurray area mapping out on the Edmonton Journal last night, the map may be found here.

According to a CBC Edmonton report (last updated May 6th, 11 AM MT) the Fort McMurray wildfires have burned approximately 100,000 hectares as of the morning of May 6th or about 247,000 acres.

Finally, CBC has a webpage with eleven videos of the  Fort McMurray wildfire, posted on May 5th (6:30 AM local time). You may have seen some of these videos already.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Evacuation from Fort McMurray wildfires

I have been providing updates on the Fort McMurray wildfire here

I thought that some of you might be interested in the story of a gentlemen who was one of the over 80,000 people who were evacuated from Fort McMurray. He tells his story to the CBC.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Fort McMurray Alberta wildfire

I posted another update with links to photos and videos of the Fort McMurray wildfire on May 10th

May 6,  2016 7:30 PM, EDT

I continue updating the Fort McMurray Alberta Fire on (May 6th) and I shared a CBC interview with a gentlemen who shot a dash cam video as he was evacuating from Fort McMurray in another May 5th article

May 5, 2016 4:50 PM EDT

Direct link to CBC video (uploaded on May 5, 2016)

The Edmonton Journal (1:10 PM local time) and CBC Edmonton (2:44 PM local time) are reporting that the Fort McMurray wildfire has grown to 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres). Update figures on destroyed structures are not yet available.

In a 2:30 PM (local time) update on the Edmonton Journal, John Cotter of the Canadian Press is reporting that there are 22 airtankers working the fire with four more on their way from Quebec. He quotes Chad Morrison of Alberta Forestry in a Thursday (May 5th) press briefing:
But let me be clear: air tankers are not going to stop this fire. It (the fire) is going to continue to push through these dry conditions until we actually get some significant rain.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley updates the media on May 5th

Direct link to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley updating the media earlier this morning (May 5th)

May 5, 2016 9:45 EDT AM (updated at 12:30 to add three non-media sources)

Communities south of Fort McMurray -- Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation -- were evacuated last night (May 4th) starting around 11 PM. I'm not quite sure the number of those evacuated due to the fire. I've seen figures as high as 88,000 people being evacuated. See this Edmonton Journal article for more information.

Bill Gabbert of Fire Aviation wrote in a May 5th article that Air Spray has readied tanker 489 three works ahead of schedule to help with the Fort McMurray wildfire. I believe, that T-489 is a Lockheed L188 Electra

Here are a list of some sources that I have gone to for information. Regarding the Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) media outlets, both have extensive coverage  available from their home pages as I write this on May 5, 2016). For this reason. I am not linking to all their articles. I leave it to you to check these sites out. With the passage of time and as the fire is hopefully brought under control, I expect that their coverage may change.

May 4, 2016
All residents in Fort McMurray, Alberta are under a mandatory evacuation due to a wildfire that has been burning since at least this past weekend. As I write this I am listening to a live update from officials on the Edmonton Journal, that is (or was) available here. The Edmonton Journal has been providing updates through this event. I took some notes as I listened to the earlier portion of the live update from officials who are involved in the fire:
  • Fire has burned about 10,000 hectares (approximately 24,7000 acres) and possibly more.
  • Winds will challenge firefighters this afternoon as they did yesterday (May 3rd).
  • Yesterday (May 3rd) there were 17 airtankers and 10 helicopters that worked the fire and they expect about the same number of aircraft today.
  • Mandatory evacuations for all the entire city of Fort McMurray (approximately 80,000 Fort McMurray residents have been displaced).
  • Reports are that at least 1,600 residences and businesses have been destroyed.
  • Gas stations in Fort McMurray ran out of gas yesterday (May 3rd), fuel is being provided to motorists on highways out of the city.
  • Hospital patients have been evacuated (thanks to WestJet) to the Edmonton area.

Direct link to video (public) from CBC Edmonton's Facebook page

Direct link to video (public) from The Weather Channel's Facebook page

For additional information:

Monday, May 02, 2016

Old news - April 20th brush fires on Long Island

Thanks to my friends at the B10 NJ Wildfire Page for posting two videos (last week) about a brush fire that burned in Long Island on Wednesday, April 20th. I admit to know about the house fire but was unaware that the house fire lead to a brush fire. Thankfully, the brush fire was quickly contained. Both videos were published to Youtube on April 20th.

Direct link to video from CBS New York

Direct link to video from CBS New York

16 Mile Fire and Sam's Point Fire are contained

May 1, 2016 (5:30 PM)

Sam's Point Fire (Ulster County, NY)  According to the Eastern Area Coordination Center's Morning Briefing on Friday, April 29th, the Sam's Point Fire is 100 percent contained. Total acreage burned is 2,028 acres. The Record Online has a photo gallery (May 1st) of images from the fire, along with two articles, here and here. The cause remains unknown, but human activity is a possibility because the fire started near a popular hiking trail.

Some of you may know that the area burned by the Sam's Point Fire is in the Minnewaska State Preserve; all the trails in the Sam's Point area are closed until further notice. More information may be found on the main page for the Minnewaska State Preserve. The New York New Jersey Trail Conference (NYNJTC) maintains the trails in the Minnewaska State Preserve. the NYNJTC has a nice map of the area burned by the fire that may found here as well as Sam's Point Fire news page (accessed on May 1st).

Sixteen Mile Fire (Pike and Monroe Counties, PA) The Pocono Record is reporting that this fire was declared 100 percent contained (8,032 acres burned) on Sunday morning, see this May 1st article.