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 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.

Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 15-21

Sunday May 15th marks the start of Hurricane Preparedness Week.  During this nationwide observance, households across the country are advised to assess their hurricane risk and develop an evacuation plan, even if the potential is low. Depending on the strength of a hurricane when it makes landfall, it may still be powerful enough to travel hundreds–or possibly over a thousand–miles inland.

During the first days after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, power was out in many areas of New York and New Jersey. If families got separated and had no planned meeting location, in some cases they were apart for days or weeks until power and resources made it possible for them to connect again. Families, friends, and roommates are advised to have a pre-determined meet-up location in case they are unable to reach each other by normal communication post-event.

Several websites allow for check-in and searching for others; however, these obviously require internet and electricity:

In advance of a storm, households should prepare emergency supplies and go-kits since there is usually little time to gather needed supplies during evacuations. The Ready.gov site has several timeline recommendations as well as a supply kit check list.

Take the time to plan and prepare.

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.


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


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




Wildfire Awareness Week

wildfire awareness week

As everyone prepares for the approaching summer, firefighters are preparing in their own way. This first week of May marks ‘Wildfire Awareness Week’ in California, when fire departments remind homeowners of the dangers of wildfires, and also bring on thousands of seasonal firefighting employees as part of their preparation for wildfire season. Firefighters in California begin inspecting homes for adherence to defensible space regulations, while thoroughly inspecting their fire equipment, and conducting daily readiness drills at fire stations, helitack bases, and air tanker bases.

The winter El Niño event brought much needed moisture to the Bay area and northern California, but had little effect on the Southern California drought index, leaving fire researchers calling for another high potential fire season in 2016. In the latest fire season outlook (released May 1), a few western states are also bracing for highly active and well-above-normal fire season conditions due to climate factors and fuel moisture conditions.

This week marks the annual occasion for fire departments statewide to remind citizens, before fire season has fully kicked in, that everyone can do their part to prevent wildfire ignitions and help make homes and neighborhoods safer.  Outreach programs such as these also educate homeowners on the concept of “defensible space”, the idea that creating and maintaining 100 feet of intelligent brush clearance greatly increases a home’s chance of surviving a wildfire.

For information on how to prepare your home please see http://www.readyforwildfire.org/.

16-Mile Fire: Pennsylvania

The 16-Mile Fire was first reported on April 20th near Sixteen Mile Run, east of Cresco, Pennsylvania. By April 23rd the fire had consumed over 4,000 acres and destroyed one structure. As of April 27th, the fire has burned more than 8,000 acres and is now 60% contained. So far, 11 structures have been destroyed; two cabins, three seasonal homes, and six outbuildings. No injuries have been reported as a result of the fire.

Despite heavy rains recently, fire crews continue to monitor the fire while improving containment lines on the fire’s flanks. Control lines have been established along the southern and western sides of the fire. In the north, control lines have been completed and improved. Crews will continue to provide structure protection for cabins near the Pine Flats Cabin Colony and the Beaver Run Club (to the east) according to Bureau of Forestry officials. There are an estimated 140 structures that are still threatened in the general area of the fire. Forecasted rain showers should help reduce the possibility of new spot fires outside of containment lines.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said that the 16-Mile Fire is the second largest fire in the state of Pennsylvania in 26 years. In 1990 a wildfire consumed more than 10,000 acres in Sproul State Forest. Fire investigators believe the 16-Mile Fire was intentionally set and have offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

16 Mile Picture

Copiague Fire: Long Island, NY

The fire started on April 20th at a home on E. Santa Barbara Road in Lindenhurst on Long Island. Firefighters were unsuccessful in their attempt to keep the fire from spreading and it quickly moved to four additional houses nearby before jumping Strongs Creek, sparking a brushfire on Indian Island, a nearby wildlife refuge. Five houses were damaged by the fire with three of those being totally destroyed.

Strong northerly winds gusting to 20 mph helped fuel the fire as it spread to roughly 54 acres on Indian Island before fire boats contained the blaze several hours later. A total of 200 firefighters from 15 different departments were called to the scene. No residents were injured as a result of the fire but two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and one was hospitalized. Arson Section detectives believe the fire to be non-criminal in nature. The investigation is continuing.

Copiague Fire Map

Rocky Mountain Fire: Shenandoah National Park, VA

The Rocky Mountain Fire was first reported on Saturday April 16th, 2016, in the South District of the Shenandoah National Park.  Crews are working hard to keep the fire within the park boundary along Skyline Drive. Due to the complexity of the incident, a Type 1 Incident Commander and the Southern Area Red Command Team will take over management of the fire on Wednesday April 20th.  As of April 19, resources have mapped the fire at 2,094 acres with no reported containment.

The fire has prompted the closure of 15 trails within the park, including a 4 mile section of the popular Appalachian Trail. These closures are in effect until further notice.  No structures or buildings have been reported as damaged to date.



Rocky Mountain_Blog Image_20160419