Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Fire Season Video: Mill Creek Engine 34

Among the many different types of wildland firefighting crews that work wildfires are engine crew. Here is a nice video from Demetreus Gonzales highlighting the 2017 of Mill Creek Engine 34. While the total run time of the video is over 10 minutes, I think that the video stops at about  the 7 minute 21 second mark. I am not quite certain where Mill Creek is, perhaps in California?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Thomas Fire - Footage from Dec. 18th

If you are wondering what fighting the Thomas Fire was like from the point of view of the boots on the ground, then you will want this four and a half minute video shot by the Daisy Mountain Fire Department on December 18th. As I write this on December 28th, according to the December 26th update from CAL FIRE, the Thomas Fire has burned 281,620 acres in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties in California, and is at 88 percent containment. There have been 1,063 structures destroyed, 280 structures have some damage, and structures remain threatened. Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today most recent post on the Thomas fire was on December 24th.

For all the boots on the ground and as well as air tankers and helicopters providing aerial support, stay safe. Thank-you for all you have and will continue to do.

Direct link to video from Daisy Mountain Fire Department

Monday, December 25, 2017

Happy and Safe Holidays - The Shepard

I wish all who a happy and safe holiday season on this Christmas Day. I'd like to take a moment to pause and thank all the wildland firefighters who are working today, including but not limited to those of you working the Thomas Fire (281,620 acres; 86% contained) in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties California.

I first learned of The Shepard by Frederick Forsyth from a good friend eight years ago. The CBC has a broadcast of the Shepard, read by Alan Maitland that I understand is rebroadcast every year on Christmas Eve on some Candadian Broadcast System radio stations. Fortunately, the broadcast is available on You Tube so I can continue to share The Shepard with you today.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Dozer working wildfire

When you consider the ground crews that work wildfires, let us not forgot that ground crews are not only boots on the ground, but also dozers and other vehicles. I am always on the look out for good videos showing dozers working a wildfire. I became aware of this video thanks to the my friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page "Video of the Week" posted on December 15, 2017.

You will see both the dozer, and some ground crews on the fire line. Great shots of the dozer working this section of wildfire near some homes.
The video that I originally embedded here is no longer available on Youtube, that happens sometimes. So, I found these two videos of dozers working wildfires to share in its place

Direct link to video on Youtube

Direct link to video on Youtube

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

MAFFS6 dropping on Thomas Fire (December 8th)

Here are two videos of MAFFs 6 of the 146th Air Wing of the  Air National Guard (Port Hueneme, California) dropping on the Thomas Fire (Ventura County, California). Both videos are filmed by Col Bryan Allen. Allow about 14 minutes to watch both videos. According to the information provided by Col Allen, "The location of this drop area is Northwest of the City of Fillmore, Northeast of Ventura, on the larger mountain above Fillmore/Santa Paula"

Thank-you 146th Air Wing!

Direct link to video on Youtube

Direct link to video on Youtube

Monday, December 18, 2017

Thanks to US Navy "Black Jacks" HSC Sea Hawks for helping with San Diego County Wildfires

It was not only the Marines who sent helicopters to help out with the recent wildfires that burned in San Diego County, California. At least one Sea Hawk Helicopter from the "Black Jacks" of the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 based in San Diego.

In this video, just under nine minutes, you will see an MH-60s Sea Hawk Helicopter assigned to the "Black Jacks" working the wildfire. I like the video because I get to see the crew loading the helicopter, attaching the bucket, dipping, and then dropping. There is also some nice footage shot from behind the two pilots looking out front as they lift off.

Thank-you "Black Jacks"

Saturday, December 16, 2017

RIP Cory Iverson

Cory Iverson, A CAL FIRE firefighter, died on December 14th fighting the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara County, CA. Thoughts and prayers for his wife who is pregnant with their second child and their young daughter; his friends and CAL FIRE colleagues, and all who love him

Direct link to video report on Youtube from CBS Los Angeles

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Thanks to the Marines for helping with the Lilac Fire (San Diego County, CA)

I knew from media reports that the Marines from Camp Pendleton, CA helped with the Lilac Fire that burned 4,100 acres (95 percent containment) in San Diego County, CA. I went looking for some videos to share with you from DVIDS, Defense Video Imagery Distribution Systems. I was in luck because I was quickly directed to a page devoted to Marine Corps Support to California Fire.

The three short videos that I am embedding below feature the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA 267), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. They supplied two UH-1Y Venom with 320 gallon buckets. All the videos are dated December 8, 2017.

Thank-you Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA 267)!!

In the first video you will hear how the Marines were helping CAL FIRE, video by Lance Cpl. Dylan Chagnon.

Direct link to video with description of video

This short video shows some images of the two UH-1Y Venom along with images shot over the fire, video by Sgt. David Bickel

Direct link to video with description of video

Finally, this last video shows one of the UH-1Y Venom's dipping, video by Cpl. Sarah Ralph.

Direct link to video with description of video

Monday, December 11, 2017

Thomas Fire (Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties, CA) grew over the weekend

Direct link to video from CBS San Fran Cisco Bay Area

While the Lilac Fire (San Diego County CA) is now at 80 percent containment having burned 4,100 acres the Thomas Fire, now in its eighth day, in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties California has grown over the weekend to 230,500 acres (15 percent containment).

Smoke images posted about 2 PM PDT on December 12th

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today on the Thomas Fire: December 10th update and photos of east side.

Media reports
Washington Post (Dec 10th) nice article with photos and videos
Washington Post on Santa Ana Winds with graphics (great information with great graphics)
CNN (Dec. 11th) with a photo gallery
CBS2 Los Angeles photo gallery
Los Angeles Daily News article, discussion on containment

Friday, December 08, 2017

Southern California Wildfires - Lilac Fire (San Diego County) December 2017

Update, December 9, 2017 7:30 AM EST

According to the CAL FIRE Lalic Fire Incident Page, last updated at 9:38 PM PDT the Lilac Fire remains at 4,100 acres burned and as at 15 percent containment. Depending on when you access this post, what you see on the CAL Fire Incident Page for the Lilac Fire may be different.

Update, December 8, 2017 7:30 PM EST

The Lilac Fire remains at 4,100 acres burned and zero containment per the CAL FIRE Lalic Fire Incident Page; as I write this there have been no updates on acreage burned or containment since this morning. The good news is that winds in the San Diego County and the Lilac Fire area were not as bad today. I believe that some air tankers and helicopters made some drops on the Lilac Fire, but I have no confirmation of that.  A smaller fire, known as the Sweetwater Fire has burned approximately eight acres near Alpine in the southern part of San Diego County in the Cleveland National Forest.

The bad news is that the Santa Ana winds will pick up in intensity over the weekend, especially Saturday night into Sunday. Hopefully diminishing early next week. Here is a video report from the NWS San Diego dated December 8, 2017.

In my wonderings today, I found another nice interactive map, this one from ABC10 San Diego. You may click on icons in the map for more information - videos, pictures, evacuation centers, etc. The direct link to the ABC10 report and video may be found here.

December 8th, 11:20 AM EST

I have loved ones in and around San Diego County, they are ok! So, I am going to focus on the Lilac Fire that was first reported on December 7th about 11:30 AM near Bonsall, California (San Diego County). As I write this about 11 AM EST), the fire has burned 4,100 acres and is burning out of control. At least 65 structures have been destroyed, and evacuations remain in place, and there are road closures in the area. There have been four civilian injuries, burns and smoke inhalation. For more current information about the fire you might want to check out the twitter feed of the CAL FIRE San Diego Unit or the CAL FIRE San Diego/San Diego Fire Authority Facebook page.

The Lilac Fire as well as other wildfires burning in Southern California have been driving by Santa Ana Winds. Red Flag Warnings are in place for much of Southern California through Sunday evening. The graphic that I am embedding below is from the NWS San Diego, posted about 7:40 AM PST. As you can see, Santa Ana Winds are forecast to continue through Sunday, December 10th.

I found the map of the area burned by the Lilac Fire that I am embedding below from a December 8th report by NBC San Diego. I accessed the map at about 8:10 AM PST on December 8th. Go here to view a larger map and be sure to check the box saying evacuations to see more detail on the areas that were under voluntary or mandatory evacuations at the time the map was published.

If you are interesting in current news of the Lilac Fire you might want to check out NBC San Diego, or CBS8 San Diego.

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today wrote about the Lilac Fire on December 7th and again on December 8th.

Some current media reports as of 11 AM EDT.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Southern California Wildfires - December 2017

Like many of you, I have been following the news of yet another round of Santa-Ana wind driven wildfires over the last 36 hours, this time in southern California. The largest of these, and the one I first heard about yesterday morning is the Thomas Fire in Ventura County California. As I write this the Thomas Fire has burned 65,000 acres, is not contained, 12,000 structures are threatened, and evacuations are in place.

Video from NBC Los Angeles' News Helicopter over wildfires (December 5th) compared to before the wildfires

direct link to video from NBC 4 in Los Angeles

Short aerial footage from Guardian News

Direct link to video on Youtube from Guardian News

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today has been covering these southern California wildfires, both on Wildfire Today and Fire Aviation:

A sampling of media reports:

Monday, December 04, 2017

Prescribed Burns in New Jersey (late Nov-Early Dec 2017)

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service did some prescribed burns in late November extending into December 3rd, 2017. The facebook post below from the New Jersey Forests was posted on November 28, 2017.

And here are some images from NJ Forest Fire Service Section A3 showing some prescribed burns in their district in northern New Jersey. Not the prescribed burn sign in the first set of images after the short video. I have seen these road signs if I was out and about near a prescribed burn.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Evergreen's B-17 (N207EV) sold to Collings Foundation

After I shared the video on historic B-17 air tankers in Alaska (1960-75) on November 27th I wanted to find a video to share of a B-17 starting her engines and taking off, preferably one that had seen service as an air tanker.

I lucked out, and the video that I am embedding below cropped up on Youtube in the up next area as I was viewing Evergreen B-17 N207EV, 44-83785 starting her engines at a 1995 Warbirds show in Fresno CA. The video is just over two minutes.

Direct link to video

The video in question is titled "Saying goodbye to Evergreen's B-17 with a start up and take off" (published on August 5, 2017). It is just over 17 minutes long. I admit that I hesitated to share this with you because of the length of the video. But when I saw the description (go to the direct link where you will see this description. I was hooked.
For years this gentle giant has sat inside of Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. Now owned by the Collings Foundation, they flew the bird out of KMMV one last time as we all said good bye to the old gal. She will be missed by us here at Evergreen.
 I started to watch the video and felt the love that everyone at Evergreen had for a B-17. So I watched the video honoring this beloved B-17 as she took off for her new home at the Collings Foundation. This video shows that you can love an airplane. Note the cars parked along the road as people came to watch her take off from KMMV and Evergreen Aviation for the last time.

Direct link to video uploaded by planesguy

The Collings Foundation will spend the next year restoring her. Perhaps she will join their Wings of Freedom Tour in the future? Will she spend part of the year at their American Heritage Museum when it is completed? Depending on when you arrive at the American Heritage Museum page, you may see their Capital Fundraising campaign appeal. I am not soliciting funds for them, but I wish them well as the raise the necessary funds for this museum. I can't wait to go.

For more information on NJ207V, 44-83785 the Warbirds Registry has a nice information page that does not reflect her transfer to Collings Foundation ownership. This B-17 saw many years of service as an air tanker first by Intermountain Aviation (1969 to 1975), and then by Evergreen Helicopters (1975 -1992).

I am certain that N207EV will be loved in her new home. Many outside of the Collings Foundation will love her and see her up close and personal whether or not  she goes on the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour after her restoration is complete.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Photographer looks at Gatlinburg TN wildfire recovery 1 year later

As we pass the one year anniversary of the Chimney2Fire that burned in and around Gatlinburg TN last year, I found myself reflecting on this wildfire, wondering how the recovery was going.  I was in the Asheville NC area this past summer and saw the beauty of the Smokies up close and personal for the first time. They are an awesome sight. Various things prevented us from going to Gaitlinburg (Sevier County TN) last summer so I was very glad to see a report from WBIR News 10 on Photographer Bruce McCarnish who was a special affinity for Sevier County, the landscape and her people, Photographer telling story of Sevier County Wildfire Recovery, a direct link to the video that accompanies the report may be found here. Not only to get a welcome glimpse of the recovery in Sevier County that represents Sevier County moving forward, but I learned a bit about the man behind the camera and his passion for Sevier County, TN and environs.

WBIR News 10 has a You Tube channel where I found the above referenced video, allow four minutes to watch the video.

Direct link to video from WBIR on You Tube

WBIR News10 has other stories about the wildfires in Sevier County one year later that may be found here. I think that this may be a special link and I don't know how long the link will be active. So if you are arriving here later, and the link does not work then you will know why.

Monday, November 27, 2017

B-17 tankers - 1960-75 - Alaska

Some of you may remember that I wrote a series on B-17s a few years ago, see for example my March 21, 2011 article). Or see my posts (24 as of this writing) with the B-17 tag. To make a long story short, I was thinking about historic B-17 tankers this morning and knew that I had to find some video to share with you. I was rewarded after a short time on Youtube with a video dated from 1960 to 1975, silent, 8 mm) of two historic B-17 tankers taking off and landing at Fairbanks, Alaska. I believe but am not certain that the two tankers (#17 and #18) were Aero Union B-17s. And I think that T-18 crashed in 1971 (according to Frederick A. Johnsen, Fire Bombers in Action (Video Book), 2010, p.123).

Enjoy this short video of these two wonderful historic B-17s. Too bad it is silent and you can't hear the distinctive sound of the radial engines

Direct link to video from Alaska Film Archives

Friday, November 24, 2017

Boeing Veritol 107 take-off, bucket work, & landing

For your viewing pleasure, three videos of three different Boeing Veritol Helicopters: start-up and take-off (Shawn Adams), bucket work over a wildfire (HD Aviation), and landing (from HD Aviation). Note the helicopter you see in the start-up and takeoff video is not the same helicopter shown in the bucket work and landing videos. The bucket work video is about nine minutes long, the other two videos are between two and three and a half minutes.

In memory of my friend Matt who loved all things helicopters.

Start-up and takeoff

Direct link to video from Shawn Adams

Bucket work (C-FHCN) over Sitkum Creek Wildfire, British Columbia Canada, summer of 2015

Direct link to video from HD Aviation

Approach and landing (C-FHCN) after working the Sitkum Creek Wildfire

Direct link to video from HD Aviation

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Massachusetts DCR Fire Control: Fire Towers and Tribute to Wildland firefighters

I have familial interests in Massachusetts, and always have a soft spot for Massachusetts. So, when something comes from Mike Archer's Wildfire News of the Day relating to Massachusetts, as happened the other day, I pay attention. For those of you interested in fire towers, Massachusetts still uses fire towers, at least on Cape Cod. As an aside, as some of you know, Cape Cod like New Jersey, has a Pine Barrens (scrub oak and pines). The NPR affiliate on Cape Cod (WCAI) had a three-minute piece on their radio network on fire towers in Cape Cod, you may go here for the audio report and some pictures.

I went to Youtube to see what I could find in the way of videos about fire towers on Cape Cod, when I came across a nice video from Jim Cunningham, "A Tribute to the Ma. DCR Forest Fire Control." I enjoyed watching this video, I think but am not certain that some of the images you see may be from Cape Cod. The Massachusetts DCR has been providing services to prevent, detect, and suppress wildfires since 1911. From their about this video description:
The Bureau is an active participant with all municipal fire departments in this endeavor. It also enjoys close cooperation with county and local forest warden committees, town and city foresters, state and local law enforcement agencies, and the Commonwealth's county and statewide civil defense and mutual assistance organizations. The early detection of forest fires is a key part of the Bureau's overall effort.

Direct link to Video from Jim Cunningham

Monday, November 20, 2017

Erickson Aircrane in action over wildfires (2011)

Enjoy this video from Earl Watters, taken with a Go Pro Helmet Cam in 2011.  You will see footage from inside an Erickson Air Crane as well as some footage from the ground. Allow just under nine minutes to watch the video.

Direct link to video from Earl Watters

Friday, November 17, 2017

Northern Bucks County PA Wildland Fire Crew - 2016 Highlights

Thanks again to my good friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page for their great fire videos of the week page! They update this page weekly (on Friday) with fire videos (wildland and structure) from the United States and around the world. I rely on their videos, they always have a few great wildland fire videos. I have frequently shared them here on my blog.

One of last week's videos from the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page was the following video from the Northern Bucks County PA Wildland Fire Crew, highlights from their 2016 fire season. A point of geography is on order, northern Bucks County PA is within easy range of the Poconos in PA. I make this point because some of the images in this video are from the Sixteen Mile Fire that burned over 7,000 acres in the Poconos in late April, 2016. Evacuations were in place for a time, there were no injuries nor where any residences damaged. One of these images shows the vehicles used by the Smokey Bear Hotshots from New Mexico. The Smokey Bear Hotshots were deployed to the wildfire to help the local wildland firefighters. Hotshot crews are a national resources and when requested, they go where they are needed.

Enjoy this short highlight video from the Northern Bucks County PA Wildland Fire Crew. I post this with a heartfelt thank-you to all the local wildland firefighters who worked this wildfire. And a special thank-you to the Smokey Bear Hotshots for helping.

Direct link to video on Youtube

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

SEATs in the Great Plains (USA) in action

For the last few years, I have subscribed to AgAir Update, a monthly newsletter with news of Agricultural Aviation from around the world. I subscribed so that I can learn more about Ag Aviation and I have not been disappointed.  About three times a year AgAir Update has a section called "Air Fire and Forestry" with information about SEATs and an article or two on broader news of aerial wildland firefighting, this is among my favorite sections of AgAir Update.

There was a nice article in the June 2017 AgAir Update called "Apocalypse on the Plains,"  now available from this AgAir Update link. The author, Graham Lavender, writes of his experience being dispatched to wildfires from the Abilene Tanker Base in the early spring of 2017 at a time when extreme wildfire conditions were forecast. He writes that one SEAT dispatched to a wildfire had to abort because of drone activity. The first week of March saw Red Flag Warnings, with forecasts of an approaching cold front with high winds for March 6, 2017. I'll let Lavender explain what the SEATs faced:
By the time we arrived for work on the morning of March 6, the winds had already exceeded our limitations. Sustained winds over forty knots with gusts over fifty knots were common in the Abilene area, while farther north and nearer the front wind speeds were even higher. By early afternoon dispatch was reporting multiple new fire starts in the northern Panhandle. The acreage estimates for each fire grew at an alarming rate. Barriers, such as highways and railroads, were no defense against the 70 mph wind gusts. All firefighters could do was position in front of the fire and warn people to get out of the way. Multiple evacuation orders were issued and many communities looked like ghost towns as the flame front approached. The same conditions were occurring in Oklahoma and Kansas with the largest fire starting in western Oklahoma and crossing the state line into its neighbor to the north.
I hope that you take a few moments to read "Apocalypse on the Plains" about what the SEATs faced last March working wildfires in the southern Great Plains.

I did find a video on Youtube, shot in February 2017 taken from the cockpit of SEAT working the Prison Fire in Tulia, Texas. The video was uploaded by the Texas A&M Forest Service, the pilot is Jim Watson. Allow a little over seven minutes to watch the video.

Direct link to video

Monday, November 13, 2017

MAFFS in action over Oct 2017 northern California wildfires

Watch this video of MAFFS 4 and 6 from the 146th Air Wing of the California Air National Guard over the Central Complex Wildfires that burned in and near Santa Rosa in October 2017.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thank-you Veterans!

On this day that we honor all Veterans, past and present, I want to thank all who have served in the Military or still are serving on active duty, or in the reserves for all that you do to serve your country and protect us at home. Your sacrifices and those of your families are not forgotten!

Friday, November 10, 2017

About being a USFS pilot from a female pilot

Circumstances prevent me from obtaining my private pilot's license nor do I fly as a Sports Pilot. Some of you know that I don't let my lack of having a private pilot's license prevent me from my interest in aviation. I am especially interested in female pilots, including but not limited to  the few female pilots who fly for the United States Forest Service and their various contractors, or who work in wildfire aviation in other capacities.

Within the first several months of writing this blog on aerial wildland firefighting, I had heard of Mary Verry who was then a Lead Plane Pilot for the US Forest Service. If you want to know about a little more about lead planes, see my February 11, 2011 article about lead planes.

I recently ran across a US Forest Service Video, "Taking Flight in the Forest Service." In this four-minute video you will hear Mary Verry explain how "everyone in aviation is in support of something bigger than themselves." She talks about flying for the US Forest Service, as well as some advice for those who are interested in flying.

At the time this video was made Mary has been a USFS pilot for just under 21 years and is currently the Fixed Wing Program Manager for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. In her capacity as a Lead Plane Pilot she flies anywhere in the lower 48 states (the Continental United States) and Alaska.

Direct link to US Forest Service You Tube video

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Lockheed P2-V tanker in action (cockpit view) over Moses Lake WA (2016)

I shared a video from Bob Webb of a Lockheed P2-V tanker in action late last spring, May 5th to be precise. Here is another video from Bob Webb, this time shot from the cockpit of a P2-V tanker working the South Ward Fire near Moses Lake Washington in 2016. I love this video for the great footage, 12 minutes) shot from the cockpit, giving me a rare view from the cockpit of an air tanker flying a fire. Not the same as being there in person, but as close as I will ever get. Great footage!

As many of you may know, the 2017 wildfire season is the last season that Neptune Aviation's Lockheed P2-V tankers flew. The tankers were retired at the end of the season, see my October 2nd post. I understand that a couple of Neptune's P2-V Neptune's were brought out of retirement to help with the October 2017 northern California wildfires

Some of you may be interested in yet another of Bob's videos that Bill Gabbert shared on Fire Aviation in April 2017. I'd recommend watching that video as well.

Direct link to video from Bob Webb

Monday, November 06, 2017

NJ Forest Fire Service (Section A3) images from a training class

Section A3 of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service had a training class recently that took place at Andover-Aeroflex Airport in Andover (Sussex County) NJ. I thought that you might enjoy some photos that they took of scenes around the airport. As I understand it, Andover-Aeroflex is the base for air operations of Division A (northern New Jersey) of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. I could not find a website for Andover-Aeroflex Airport, but I did find a website for the Andover Flight Academy, based at Andover-Aeroflex, they have a page with information about Andover-Aeroflex (12N) that may be found here. I have taken a couple of scenic flights over Andover-Aeroflex including one landing, and I have gone walking in the adjoining Kittatinny Valley State Park.

To view the photos, click on the line under "Section A# District Warden's Association" or you may go directly to their photo album (here).

Thanks to all the NJ Forest Fire Service wildland firefighters for keeping us in New Jersey safe from wildfires.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Footage of rappel operations from inside a helo

Here is eighteen minutes of footage (with audio) of rappel operations over a wildfire near Lake Wenatchee, WA in July 2016. I liked this footage because it afforded me an opportunity to see and hear heli-rappel operations from inside a helicopter. At least four wildland firefighters rappel down to the fire from the helo.

Direct link to video

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Footage of Tubbs Fire from firefighters perspective

Some awesome footage of the Tubbs Fire that recently burned near Santa Rosa California. This footage was shot by firefighters from Berkley California, and is courtesy of the Berkeley Fire Department. Allow about eleven minutes for the video.

Direct link to video from KTVU (courtesy of Berkeley Fire Department)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Footage from wildfire near Lake Elsinore CA

I came across 45 minutes of footage from KTLA 5 in southern California late last week. The footage, which I think was streamed live on KTLA 5's facebook page was shows footage of the Wildomar Fire, shot on October 26, 2017. The wildfire was burning in the mountains of southwest Riverside County California near Lake Elsinore and Wildomar.

I know that 45 minutes of footage might be a little long for some of you. I don't watch as much livestream footage of wildfires as I used to.

Some highlights of aerial operations:

  • At about 13 minutes there is a couple of minutes of close-up footage of T-910 (DC-10) circling near the fire.
  • T-910 starts the drop run at about 21 minutes 20 seconds.
  • Footage of a Sikorsky Sky Crane over the fire.
  • Two drops from a Sikorsky Sky Crane (#716) at about 25 minutes 40 seconds and 37 minutes 20 seconds.
  • Close-up of a lead plane at about 36 minutes 25 seconds

Friday, October 27, 2017

Blimp Typhoon Research in Guam: Final Update (for now)

I have written two posts about miniature blimp typhoon research that was going on in Guam from October 4, 2017 through (on or about) October 21, 2017.  The team of French researchers, working in conjunction with the US National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) at Guam came to Guam with three miniature blimps (aka AeroClippers)with weather equipment that could be released and then hopefully drawn into a tropical cyclone. The idea being that once the AeroClipper is drawn into a tropical cyclone it will be carried along with the tropical cyclone collecting meteorological data for up to 40 days, relaying the data back to the researchers (see my October 9th article for more information on the AeroClippers. Two AeroClippers were released from Guam, one on October 12th and the second on October 14th (for more information go to my October 14th article on the AeroClippers).

I found out a few days later from reading social media posts from the Facebook page of the NWS WFO at Guam that one of the flight of one of the AeroClipper (miniature blimps) was terminated early because winds were steering it toward the island of Saipan (north of Guam, see map below). Unfortunately, the weather was not favorable for the launch of the third AeroClipper. I was interested to learn that the scientists working with the AeroClipper gave a free lecture for the public at the University of Guam on the night of October 19th. I would have loved to be there, but . . . For more information see this short report from KUAM News).

I reached out to the NWS at Guam via Facebook messaging earlier this week, asking them to share one thing about the AeroClippers that they would like you (my readers) to know. This is their response:
US NWS WFO at Guam: I think the bottom line to take from this project is that this research is geared to test a concept to make it easier to insert weather instrumentation into a tropical cyclone in order to obtain nearly constant real-time monitoring of conditions inside a mature TC (tropical cyclone). The data, over time, could pave the way to break throughs in track, intensity, development rate, etc, of TCs. This data would be unparalleled except for infrequent cases that the TC transits a land observing station that is still functioning. There will be lessons-learned from this research, dealing with the design and instrumentation, but they should have some good information to gear them up for subsequent tests in the future, wherever they do another round.
I will attempt to follow How the AeroClipper research is going over the next several months. If I find out anything that I can report here, then I will write another blog post.

Monday, October 23, 2017

South Metro Colorada Firefighters working wildfire in California

Enjoy this video from the South Metro Colorado Fire and Rescue documenting the deployment of four of their wildland firefighters to California in the Summer of 2017. They retreated to their safe zone where some of this footage is shot. There is some nice footage of aircraft working the fire.

Direct link to video from South Metro Fire and Rescue

Friday, October 20, 2017

Graphic novelist Brian Fies: account of losing his home to recent CA wildfires

I'd like to thank Mike Archer for introducing me to Brian Fies through his October 19th (2017) edition of Wildfire News of the Day. I was intrigued by his description of Fies' work:
In an 18-page web comic titled "A Fire Story", a graphic artist who lost is home in Santa Rosa's Tubbs Fire tried to capture how 50 mph wids turned that blaze into a 'napalm tsunami.'
Archer then linked to a CNN story focusing on award winning graphic artist Brian Fies account of losing his Santa Rosa house to the Tubbs Fire (as I write this on October 20th, 36,432 acres burned at 93 percent containment), you may find the October 18th CNN story on Fies' 18-page web-comic account of losing his house here. Here is an excerpt from the CNN story:
Brian Fies sat down with some Sharpies and some paper to process his pain the way he knows best. 
He began to draw. 
The result is "A Fire Story," an 18-page web comic that recounts the heart-wrenching devastation the California wildfires has wrought.
It details how 50 mph winds turned the Tubbs Fire into a "napalm tsunami." How the blaze devoured his family's home in Santa Rosa, leaving it a heap of burned ash. How all that's left for survivors like him is to inventory prized possessions they'll never see again.
I have no first hand experience in anything that comes close to the experience of losing a house to a wildfire or other natural disaster. Fies is one of thousands who have lost their homes and/or businesses to the recent California wildfires. Perhaps his story is similar to those elsewhere who have lost homes and or businesses to wildfires whether it be this year or in years past.

So I went to Brian's blog and read his web-comic. A Fire Story, where he writes and draws about his family's experiences. First the evacuation, then going back to find that his house is gone, and then the aftermath. Brian Fies' web-comic  account of losing his house to the Tubbs Fire may be found on his October 15th blog entry. Here is an excerpt from Brian's October 15th blog:
It's a first-person report from the front line. They're not always pretty. 
Page 9 has some profanity. Actually, it has nothing but profanity. Sorry. I wrestled with that, but that's exactly the way it happened and I am an honest reporter.
Thank-you Brian for this first person account, and sometimes painful account, of losing your home with us. Words escape me. I wish you and the other families who have lost their homes Godspeed in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

IMETs working northern California wildfires (Oct 2017): update

I am sharing a nice video that I believe was from earlier the week of October 16th (perhaps Monday, October 16th?) courtesy of the Weather Channel. You will hear NWS incident meteorologist  (IMET)  Tom Wright (from the US NWS Medford OR) then assigned to the Southern LNU Complex (which includes the Atlas Fire) describing the then current weather situation over the Southern LNU Complex.

IMET Wright was asked what the biggest challenge was that he faced as a meteorologist assigned to this fire. He said forecasting the winds and went on to discuss a little about the challenges the winds posed.

You may recall that one of my blog entries for Friday, October 13th was devoted to IMETs working the northern California wildfires. Just before I posted that article, I reached out the IMET staff behind the US National Weather Service, IMET Facebook page I asked them a question which I get to in a moment. I had started out be mentioning that I knew that these were wind driven fires. I had used the term Santa Anna winds, only to later realize that what are know as Santa Ana Winds in Southern California are called Diablo Winds in the Bay area (see this blog entry on the Diablo Winds).

Random Ramblings: Is there one thing that you would like my readers to know about what IMETs contribute to helping firefighters fight these firestorms (my reference to the wildfires in northern California), and are these contributions different from what they usually do?

US National Weather Service IMET Office: In terms of the work being done by the IMETs in California, it is similar to what we do with other fires. Certainly the Santa Ana winds are something unique to California and are a challenge, but our mission remains the same, which is to keep firefighters and the public safe and support the Incident Management Team with weather information so that they can make tactical decisions on their windows of opportunity and when they may need to disengage.

As I write this article on October 18th, an IMET from the US National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office at Hanford CA is being deployed to the Southern LNU Complex. As of earlier this morning (October 18th), the Atlas Fire referenced in the Weather Channel interview with IMET Wright has burned 51,064 acres and is at 83 percent containment.

IMETs save lives!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Northern California Wildfires - update for Oct 16th

According to the CAL FIRE Statewide Summary for Monday, October 16th there are 14 large wildfires burning in California accounting for over 213,000 acres burned. An estimated 5,700 structures have been destroyed. At the time I post this, 41 people have died. Some evacuation orders in northern California have been lifted and other evacuation orders are being reevaluated. A driver of private water tender working the Nuns Fire died in a vehicle rollover on Oakville Grade in Napa County. CBS Bay Area reported on the death of the driver in this vehicle rollover in an October 16th report

I compiled the following information on wildfires burning in northern California from the California Statewide Fire Summary (CAL FIRE PIO twitter) for Monday, October 16, 2017. As I transcribed the data from the CAL FIRE PIO's twitter post, any errors in the figures are mine.

Central LNU Complex, In unified command with Santa Rosa Fire Department and Sonoma County Sheriff, CAL FIRE Incident Management Team assigned. 23 civilian fatalities
  • Tubs Fire (Sonoma and Napa Counties) 36,390 acres, 70% contained, significant number of structures destroyed
  • Pocket Fire (Sonoma County) 11,889 acres, 40% contained
  • Nuns Fire  (Sonoma County) 48,624 acres, 50% contained
  • Oakmont Fire (Sonoma County) 875 acres, 15% contained

Southern LNU Complex, CAL FIRE Incident Management Team assigned
  • Atlas Fire (Napa and Solano Counties) 51,064 acres, 60% contained, 6 civilian fatalities, significant number of structures destroyed

Mendocino-Lake Complex, CAL FIRE Incident Management Team assigned
  • Redwood Valley (Mendocino County) 35,000 acres, 50% contained, 8 civilian fatalities, significant number of structures destroyed
  • Sulphur Fire (Lake County) 2,207 acres, 85% contained

Wind Complex, CAL FIRE Incident Management Team assigned
  • Cascade Fire (Yuba County) 9,989 acres, 96% contained, 4 civilian casualties, significant number of structures destroyed
  • Lobo Fire (Nevada County) 821 acres, 97% contained, multiple structures destroyed
  • LaPorte Fire (Butte County) 6,151 acres, 95% contained

For current information from CAL FIRE on wildfires burning in California, see the CAL FIRE PIO twitter account.

Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today continues to report on the wildfires currently burning in California.  You will want to see his two recent updates on the northern California wildfires written on Saturday, October 14th and Monday, October 16th.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Northern California Wildfires - Update October 14th

Saturday evening (October 14th) update on California Wildfires

(October 14th about 3 PM PDT)

(October 14th about 2 PM PDT)

The latest statewide summary of all the wildfires burning in California may be found at this CAL FIRE website. They start with this summary (from Statewide Summary for Saturday, October 14th):
Gusty winds increased early this morning forcing new evacuations and a sparking a new large wildfire in Lake County. Currently more than 10,000 firefighters are battling 16 large wildfires that in total have burned over 214,000 acres. Approximately 100,000 people have been evacuated from the fires. These fires have been extremely destructive with 5,700 structures estimated to have been destroyed.
The Weather Channel has a short video update on the northern California Wildfires (October 14th, about 6PM EDT) that may be found here, along with a story and a rather large photo gallery of about 300 pictures. 

Two San Francisco media outlets that I have been checking periodically:

Blimp Typhoon Research in Guam: Follow-up 1

Earlier this week I wrote about some exciting research being conducted in Guam by French researchers from the CNES. Specifically they are using specially equipped unmanned miniature blimps called AeroClippers that are designed to fly in the eye of typhoons to collect various meteorological data. See my October 9th post for more information.

My friends at the US National Weather Service Guam shared some good news from the French researchers and their three AeroClippers. They have launched two AeroClippers. The first AeroClipper was launched on or about October 12th. The second AeroClipper was launched October 14th (that is this morning, Guam time). The post about the launch of the second AeroClipper has a video showing the launch of the second AeroClipper. This is very exciting and I wish the CNES researchers the best of luck as they track these two AeroClippers. As I understand it, there is one more AeroClipper to be launched.

JTWC is the Joint Typhoon Warning Center

My final article (for now) on the blimp (AeroClipper) typhoon research is on October 27th.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Red Flag Warnings in Northern CA this weekend (0ct 13 - 15)

If you are arriving at this post after October 15th, the video is still worth watching so you can see an example of how NWS Weather Forecast Offices work to warn those in their forecast area of life threatening weather conditions.

IMETs working Northern California Wildfires

Regular readers know that I have lots of respect for the work the National Weather Service Incident Meteorologists do when the are assigned to a specific for a two-week deployment. See for example my May 17th 2017 post where you will learn a little about what IMETs do from a NWS incident meteorologist and this November 2016 post where you will see a video of an IMET answering questions from a middle school class.

I thought that you might be interested in recent IMET deployments to wildfires in Northern California. So, I went to the NWS IMET Facebook page where I found the following IMET deployments since October 9th. Information about these and other wildfires burning in northern California and elsewhere in California, along with a map, may be accessed from the CAL FIRE Incident Page.

Before I go any further, I want to pause and say how much I appreciate all of you IMETs who are working these horrible and devastating wildfires in northern California. I know that you are working hard monitoring weather conditions on your fire. Especially but not limited to monitoring wind forecasts, I understand that some of these wildfires experienced more high winds the other night. What you do is so crucial to keep firefighters on the ground safe. Thank-you. And you stay safe as well.

Edited on October 14 at 6:30 AM to add: The IMETs working the northern California wildfires as well as nearby NWS Weather Forecast Offices of Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area will be monitoring Red Flag Warning conditions that are expected occur this weekend, October 13th to 15th (see my post of October 13th for more information).

IMETS save lives!

The four deployments below were on the evening of Monday, October 9th.

The Redwood Complex is part of the Mendocino Lake Complex of Wildfires.

The Tubbs Fire is part of the Central LNU Complex of Wildfires

The Atlas Fire is part of the Southern LNU Complex of Wildfires

Last, but by no means least, an IMET Trainee (to read more about IMET trainees read my July 21st post) was deployed to the Central LNU Complex on October 11th.  Wow, I wish this trainee well as they work with an experienced IMET and fill their taskbook.

Here is a screen grab I did this morning (October 13th) from the NWS EDD interactive map showing current IMET deployments (the pinkish-purple circles) in Northern California. To the best of my knowledge, all the deployments that I have referenced above are mapped out below. Note that IMET locations are found in fire weather under more layers.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Temporary Air Control Tower at McClellan AAB

Thanks to Mike Archer for his daily Wildfire News of the Day e-mail where I learned in his WNOTD e-mail yesterday, October 11th) about a temporary Air Control Tower that is in operation at McClellan Air Attack base. Ordinarily McClellan has no tower and the pilots talk to each other as they are arriving, taxiing on the ground, and then departing. However, with twelve Airtankers working the various northern California wildfires out of McClellan, the air and ground space was a little busy so CAL FIRE called Tower Tech for help. Learn about Tower Tech in this report with video from CBS News Sacramento. Unfortunately, I am unable to get the embed code provided by CBS News Sacramento to work, so I hope that you take about three minutes to go and watch the video.

Titus Gall, CEO of Tower Tech spoke with CBS Sacramento:
'The traffic becomes a little bit too complicated,' said Titus Gall, President and CEO of Tower Tech, Inc. . . . 
'Everything that uses this airport is now talking to these guys,' Gall said, referring to the two-man team running the traffic control. 
Typically, there is no air traffic control team at McClellan and the pilots simply communicate with each other when they need to land and depart. 
The Tower Tech team is scheduling 12 air tankers on a loop, loading fire retardant, making drops and coming back to load up again. But the guys are also handling private planes here on business. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

More on CA wildfires - view from a firefighter

Thanks to a friend of mine who told about an NPR she heard reporting on the wildfires in northern California. She said that she had heard a firefighter talking about the challenges in fighting these "monstrous fires." I wasn't sure if I would be able to easily find the NPR audio report, but I think that I found the one that she is talking about. I am embedding the report below. The written NPR report (Oct 11th) where I found the audio report is slightly different, your will find it here.

I like this report because you are hearing from a wildland firefighter about the difficulties in fighting a wind-driven wildfire.

California wildfires - October 2017

Updated on October 12th at 12:30 PM. In an article posted on October 12th, Wildfire Today is reporting that:
The latest figures on this week’s wildfire outbreak, per CAL FIRE as of late Wednesday:
  • 22 wildfires have burned more than 170,000 acres
  • 3,500 homes and structures have been destroyed
  • 21 people have died, and that figure is expected to rise
  • More than 8,000 firefighters are working fires across the state, primarily those in Northern California’s wine country. This includes crews on 550 engines, 73 helicopters and 30 air tankers.
Be sure to go and read the entire October 12th article on the California wildfires on Wildfire Today

Fire Aviation has two articles on aviation resources fighting the California wildfires:

Finally for those of you who might be interested in local coverage of the California wildfires:

October 11th I suspect that most of you know that among the wildfires currently burning in California are several wildfires burning in Northern California accounting for on the order of 115,000 acres burned. And this is just norther California, and doesn't include wildfires burning elsewhere in the State. These wildfires have been reported across much of the national media, both broadcast and print media. I understand that at least 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed and at least 15 people are dead with many more missing. My thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by these devastating wildfires. Thank-you to the wildfire crews on the ground for working these wildfires, stay safe.

Direct link to video from Shaking My Head Productions

Wildfire Today has been doing their usual extraordinary job covering the wildfires burning in California. See for example:

I am posting some coverage of these wildfires. All these articles are good. Some of the coverage might be repetitious, but you can get a feeling for the devastation  by looking at the videos and phots from the fires.

California Broadcast and print media

National media:

Monday, October 09, 2017

Miniature Blimp/balloon typhoon research in Guam

This is the first of at least a couple of posts about miniature blimp/balloon typhoon research going on in Guam in October of 2017. This post, divided into three parts,  is a little longer than my usual post. In the first section is an introduction and a little bit about Guam (focusing on geography). After providing some links to information about tropical cyclones in the second section, I share information from the NWS Guam about the typhoon research being conduction in Guam by researchers from the French CNES agency. Finally in section three, I provide a link(s) to more of my posts about the miniature blimp known as the AeroClipper.

A few months ago, I started to become familiar with the US NWS WFO at Guam because a NWS meteorologist I knew transferred to Guam. So, I found and bookmarked the US NWS Guam Facebook site  I check in with the NWS Guam Facebook page, in part because I am interested in learning more about typhoons. Just last week, I was checking out the NWS Guam’s Facebook page when I found out about some very interesting research that some researchers from France will be doing out of Guam from October 4th to October 21st (weather permitting). I want to share a little about that research with you, but before I do that a little geography and a little about Guam

As you can see, Guam, which is an unincorporated territory of the United States, is located in the Western Pacific. According to the entry for Guam in the CIA World Fact Book (go here), Guam is at 13.28 N, 144.47 E. Guam's climate is tropical marine (see the geography entry in CIA World Fact Book's entry for Guam

As you may know, tropical cyclones in that part of the pacific where Guam is located are known as typhoons while tropical cyclones off of the atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico are known as hurricanes. The National Weather Service has a nice module on tropical weather, including tropical cyclones at their Jet Stream Education site. Now, I know that both typhoons and hurricanes are tropical cyclones and I wanted to know more about Guam. I had heard references about the northwest pacific being known as typhoon alley, so I searched on typhoon alley and came up with an article from written in July 2016 that you may find here. I learned a lot about typhoons in general as well as the differences between typhoons and hurricanes. I then wrote to my friends at the NWS WFO at Guam to see if they had any comments on the article. They told me that the article covers it, stressing that “all the ingredients for tropical cyclone development are here all year round and little land mass to stop development — practically none until you reach the far western Pacific.

I am always interested in learning more about interesting weather related research involving aviation, including the use of balloons. So when I came upon the following Facebook post from the US NWS Guam at the end of last week, I was fascinated. It was after reading that Facebook post, which I am embedding below that I knew that I wanted to share this with you. The first thing I did was to learn a little more about Guam which I have shared in the beginning of this article. Please take a few moments to read about this fascinating research involving balloons known as AeroClippers. Hopefully, there will be a couple of nearby tropical cyclones so that the folk from CNES in France can do their research. I am fascinated by what the AeroClippers could mean to providing data that will help forecasters in the Western Pacific and elsewhere get data from the eye of the typhoon. I am looking forward to following the CNES AeroClipper research while they are in Guam and wish them the best. The Facebook post was posted on October 6, 2017.

Here are a couple of media articles from the Guam Press about the Aero Clipper. As always, I am never certain how long these links will be up.

  • October 14th: I posted on the launch of two of the AeroClippers by the CNES researchers working out of Guam
  • My final article (for now) on the blimp (AeroClipper) typhoon research is on October 27th.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Santiago Fire Crew (Orange County) working the Canyon Fire (CA)

Well, with a good three weeks without significant rainfall here in New Jersey, I was going to write about the dry conditions. But I won't. Instead, I am going to hold off on that post until the middle of next week. Let's just say I want to see what transpires between now and then in the weather department. We shall see, won't we.

I thought I'd share a crew video, uploaded by Randy Cruz of the Santiago Fire Crew of Orange County, California working the Canyon Fire. Allow a little under five minutes for the video. I wrote about the Canyon Fire here.

Direct link to video from Randy Cruz

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Time for some smokejumpers - October 2017

Some of you know that when I first got interested in wildland firefighting nine years ago, one of my former grad school professors who was knowledgable about forestry and wildland firefighting suggested that I read a couple of books about smokejumpers. I followed his advice. Time went on and eventually started this blog.

From time to time, as I am doing now, I like to look around for new to me videos about smokejumpers. I found two that I am sharing here. Perhaps some of you have already seen these two videos elsewhere, but if so, perhaps you will enjoy seeing them again. Allow about 15 minutes to watch both videos.

This first video is from ABC News (April 2016) and is about smokejumpers out of Redding California (California Smokejumpers website). TodayI enjoyed hearing the smokejumpers, a base manager, and a wife of one of the jumpers talk about their experiences. Especially the wife for adding the dimension of what it is like for her and their children.

Direct link to video from ABC News

In the second video you will get an overview of the McCall Idaho Smokejumpers.  The video is from On Final Productions (February 2017)

Direct link to video from OnFinal Productions