Erskine Fire Scorches Neighborhoods in Kern County

Erskine Fire Summary

The Erskine fire started the afternoon of June 23rd along Erskine Creek Road in Lake Isabella and quickly spread up-slope and to the east toward several residential areas near South Lake, CA. Public safety officials quickly scrambled to evacuate the closest neighborhoods of Yankee Canyon, Mountain Mesa, and Squirrel Valley. As the fire rapidly spread east, skirting the mountains and neighborhoods above the lake, it destroyed homes and forced further evacuations of South Lake, Bella Vista, Onyx, Weldon, and Lakeland Estates.

Fueled by relative humidity (RH) in the single digits and gusty evening winds, the fire quickly spread ten and half miles over a matter of hours in the time from Thursday evening to early Friday morning. As of midday Friday (6/24) the Erskine Fire was 19,034 acres and 0% contained. Fire officials are reporting 100 structures are estimated as lost and 1,500 others are threatened. A damage assessment team will survey the extent of the fire’s destruction in the coming days.

Erskine Fire Outlook

A type-1 incident management team is already en route to the area to take over command of the fire. The Erskine Fire exhibited extreme fire behavior across steep, rugged terrain fanned by gusty afternoon winds. Fire officials are worried about this afternoon’s (6/24) weather forecast, which may mimic yesterday’s destructive conditions. There are six air tankers, seven helicopters, and 800 firefighters on scene, with hundreds more on the way.


Erskine Fire Facts:

  • Location: Lake Isabella, CA
  • Size: 19,034 acres
  • Containment: 0%
  • Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread through tall grass and brush in steep, rugged terrain.
  • Structures Threatened: 1500 (reported)
  • Structures Destroyed: 100 (estimated)
  • Incident Page: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4806/
  • News Article: LA Times

Map: Erskine Fire perimeter (as of 6/24, 1300 hrs).


NOTE: 

Fire perimeter was provided by NIFC and was created by hand and helo flight GPS.

Sherpa Fire: Santa Barbara County

Sherpa Fire Summary

The Sherpa fire started Wednesday afternoon in a remote area of the Los Padres National Forest (LPF), directly west of Santa Barbara, California. It quickly grew in size with the classic sundowner winds which that area sees frequently. Evacuation warnings were sent out immediately along with reverse 911 calls to nearby residents due to that area’s potential for rapid fire growth. In the days since ignition, the fire has grown from 50 acres to over 5800 acres, according to this morning’s infrared flight data (seen map below).Much of the area remains under mandatory evacuations.

Sherpa Fire Outlook

A type-2 team took over command of the fire as of this morning’s (6/17) briefing where future plans and expected fire behavior were discussed. The Sherpa Fire has exhibited extreme fire behavior, including long-range spotting and downhill runs each of the last two evening and overnight burn periods. These gusty, sundowner periods (5:00pm and after) are expected every afternoon/evening through the weekend, worrying fire officials. Last night’s activity actually pushed the active fire across Hwy 101 and forced closures of the thoroughfare for the second straight night. Heavy fuels east of the current burn area and rising temperatures associated with an incoming high pressure system this weekend likely mean the firefight is far from over.


Sherpa Fire Facts:


Map: Sherpa fire perimeter and estimated evacuation zones (as of 6/17, 1700 hrs).


NOTE: 

Fire perimeter was provided by NIFC from an overnight IR flight.

Evacuation areas are estimated from written descriptions provided by Santa Barbara County Emergency Services.

Tenderfoot Fire: Yarnell, AZ

Firefighters continue to battle the Tenderfoot Fire near Yarnell, Arizona. As of June 10th, the fire is being reported at 3,300 acres with only 10% containment. The Tenderfoot fire was first reported on June 8th near Yarnell and threatened several homes along Crest Way which came to within 200 feet of the fire’s perimeter. Fortunately SW winds pushed the blaze to the NE, away from Yarnell, and fire crews were able to establish control lines around evacuated structures.

On June 9th, high winds expanded the fire’s range, leading to more evacuations. By mid-day June 10th, the number of firefighters deployed had increased from 250 to 400.

About 280 residents have been evacuated — about 250 from Yarnell since the fire started, and 30 from Peeples Valley (to the north), the afternoon of June 9th when strong winds fanned the flames. Officials were still analyzing whether residents could be allowed to return home later in the evening on June 10th.

Rugged terrain is hampering firefighting efforts on the ground but officials are optimistic as winds continue to push the fire to the NE, away from nearby communities. Three large air tankers and two single engine air tankers have worked the fire since its start on June 8th.

The cause of the Tenderfoot Fire is still under investigation, however, officials have ruled out lightning as a cause.

On June 28, 2013, the Yarnell Hill Fire started just across Hwy 89 from the Tenderfoot Fire. Two days later on June 30th, 19 firefighters died battling the Yarnell Hill Fire when their position was overrun by erratic fire behavior after the winds shifted and turned the fire back into town. 127 homes were destroyed in the Yarnell Hill Fire, the deadliest fire in Arizona’s history.

Yarnell_Tenderfoot_Fires

Side-by-side comparison of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire and the 2016 Tenderfoot Fire.

Tortoise Fire: Orange County California

After three hours, firefighters and air units contained the 4-acre Tortoise Fire that burned in the gated community of Coto de Caza in Orange County. No evacuation orders were issued.

The Tortoise Fire was first reported at 11:22 am on June 3rd. Seventy Orange County firefighters were called to the blaze as well as three helicopters. The fire briefly threatened several homes before fire crews gained the upper hand around 1:30 pm in the afternoon. By 2:15 pm fire officials declared the Tortoise Fire fully contained. Hand crews remained on scene conducting mop-up operations until approximately 5 pm.

No homes were damaged and no civilians were injured but officials did report that three firefighters suffered minor, non-life threatening injuries as a result of the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

KEN STEINHARDT, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, Tortoise Fire

A helicopter drops water as wildland firefighters battle a vegetation fire in Coto de Caza.

Wheatland Fire in San Fernando Valley Scorches Nearly 200 Acres

LAFD and Angeles National Forest firefighters responded Monday (May 23) to a fast moving brush fire off Wheatland Avenue in the hills above Lakeview Terrace. Around 3 pm, the (then reportedly 8 acre) slope- and wind-driven fire moved north into a canyon and away from nearby structures. As the fire grew to 50 and then 100 acres, it moved into the Angeles National Forest where firefighters established a containment line and aggressively suppressed the flame front with air resources. By late Monday evening, the Wheatland fire had reached the peak of the small range above the fire’s origin and stalled as humidity rose and the sun fell. As of this morning (May 24), the fire is estimated at 183 acres and is reportedly 35% contained.

RedZone’s intelligence center (RZIntel) watched the event unfold as the fire marched up the mountainside using live helicopter coverage from several Los Angeles media sources. RZIntel updated the Wheatland Fire situation as numerous resources were ordered, hazards were identified, command of the fire changed hands, and the fire’s extent progressed up the mountainside. An estimation of Wheatland fire’s total progression is shown the map below.

wheatland-fire

Wheatland Fire Perimeter Estimate as of May 24, 2016 0900 HRS

The US Forest Service has established an incident page for the Wheatland Fire which can be seen here.

  • ‘Wheatland’ Fire
  • Started 2:23 PM Monday, May 23rd
  • Angeles National Forest above Lakeview Terrace
  • 183 Acres
  • 35% Contained
  • Planned Action: Mop-up and Patrol

How to Become a Wildland Firefighter

So you want to become a wildland firefighter but you’re not sure how to do it? Below are a few ideas to get you started.

Where do wildland firefighters come from?

Wildland firefighting outfits often recruit staff from forestry or land management organizations such as the US forest service, BLM, state forestry services, National Park Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. But perhaps the best way to get your foot in the door is simply to volunteer. You can start getting some on-the-job experience right away, and many outfits such as CalFire in California or various county organizations will help put you through the required training. Some will even pay you, though it might be as little as just a few dollars for many hours of work.

What sort of education do I need?

Some high schools offer wildland firefighting classes through regional occupational programs (ROPs), which are often taught by fire crew captains or other career firefighters. For virtually all wildland firefighting positions, at least a high school diploma or GED are recommended and often required. Specific wildland firefighting training courses vary by region. CalFire requires a 120-hour course which takes place over roughly two weeks, whereas the US Forest Service requires an 80-hour course.

RedZone Liaison Doug Lannon on the Morgan Fire in Lake County, CA in 2003.

What will I get to do on my first day?

Most likely your introduction to being on a crew will involve a great deal of physical training, or what is called “PT” in the business. You’ll also go through station orientation where you get to find out such important tips such as where gear is stored on the fire engine so you’re not totally helpless when you get out in the field. Other tasks for newbies include maintaining local hiking trails, mainly to learn the tools of the trade: Shovels, McClouds, and Pulaskis.

Can I expect to work as a wildland firefighter full time?

Though positions are somewhat guaranteed from year to year, many jobs in wildland firefighting are seasonal, and are therefore limited to up to 9 months at a time (the US Forest Service limits seasonal employees to 1040 hours per year). Because of this, most wildland firefighters find a job in the offseason, while many just go on unemployment (or go snowboarding).

Who can I contact for more information?

Outfits such as US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are a good place to start looking for federal wildland firefighter positions. Individual state groups such as CalFire, Nevada Division of Forestry, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and other State Forestry organizations may have good information for you as well.

Fort McMurray Area Under Control According to Fire Officials

Late Tuesday (5/10) Fort McMurray Fire officials were optimistic regarding the status of the devastating blaze. The worst of the fire activity near McMurray, which has spanned ten days, is now under control according to Chief Darby Allen who updated the public in a video posted last night. Allen said “We think we’ve got this thing beat in McMurray.” With that good news, officials are now working on plans to re-open Highway 63, repair infrastructure, and return the estimated 80,000 evacuees to their homes in the fire-ravaged city.  Crops of fresh firefighters are arriving this week to give the exhausted fire crews some relief as the now over-565,000 acre fire is still active to the south of Fort McMurray and the firefight there continues.

mcmurray_table

Fort McMurray Fire Statistics

Google’s Crisis Map has an event map page which has outlined the most impacted neighborhoods in Fort McMurray. We at RedZone have estimated the fire perimeter and outlined those neighborhoods in the web map below. Digital Globe has also published new satellite imagery this week showing the destructive impact of the fire in those neighborhoods. The reported structure loss is estimated at 2,400 since the fire began.


 

Fort McMurray Fire perimeter and damaged neighborhoods


 

Source: postabit.com article

Alberta’s Fort McMurray Fire Rages On

The Fort McMurray Fire has destroyed tens of thousands of acres and hundreds of structures since it ignited early Monday (May 2). Fueled by extreme fire weather and dry conditions, the wildfire has completely decimated the Fort McMurray area in Northern Alberta. Multiple videos have surfaced online as 80,000 evacuated residents scrambled to get out of the way of the flames when it ripped into the city and destroyed whole neighborhoods. NASA fire detection satellites mapping the fire show it starting west of Fort McMurray, growing steadily northeast into town all day Tuesday (May 3) and into Wednesday (May 4) morning. An even bigger push started Wednesday night into Thursday (May 5) as the fire barreled to the south and east, backed by 70km/h winds and grew from 10,000 hectares (ha) to around 85,000 ha. Damage estimates today (May 6) include another 12 structures involved in the Anzac area on top of the estimated 1,600 structures lost in Fort McMurray earlier in the week. So far 88,000 people have been evacuated. The fire’s size is now (May 6) estimated at 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres), it’s continuing to move to the southeast with multiple fingers and spot fires, and with no signs of stopping.

The weather isn’t expected to provide much help in fighting the fire, with only slight cooling this weekend following this week’s lack of rain and record hot temperatures. “Another period of hot and mostly dry weather is forecast for the region this weekend as another ridge builds over Western Canada,” warns Weather Network meteorologist Brett Soderholm. “Widespread rainfall across the region is looking unlikely during the next week.” 

For more information on the McMurray Fire visit : Fort McMurray Wildfire from Global News

mcmurray

Estimation of Fort McMurray Fire Perimeter (as of May 6th) with Fire Detection points visible