Anderson Creek Fire nears containment in Kansas and Oklahoma

The Anderson Creek Fire continued to burn through Kansas from Oklahoma, but was nearing full containment as of March 29. Erratic weather over the preceding weekend prevented daily perimeter flights and hindered firefighters’ efforts. On Monday the 28th, aerial attempts were finally successful, allowing crews to gain a more precise acreage measurement of 367,620 and containment up to 95%. As of Tuesday, March 29th, twelve homes had been reported as destroyed. Blackhawk choppers, along with rain and snow, helped the firefighters improve containment lines and make progress on the fire. The Anderson Creek Fire is the largest wildfire in Kansas history.

The Oklahoma Forestry Service released this fire progression map on March 28th after receiving flight data. The bright red portions in the eastern area show the most recently-active areas of the fire. An unfavorable weather system passed west to east over the area throughout the 28th and 29th, and crews were optimistic about the firefighting plans for the subsequent days.

 

Anderson Creek Fire - OK & KS - Fire Progression by Oklahoma Forestry Services

Anderson Creek Fire – OK & KS – Fire Progression by Oklahoma Forestry Services

 

Anderson Creek Fire

 

Hundreds of firefighters battled a wildfire that burned over 400,000 acres in Kansas and Oklahoma, with about two-thirds of the burning occuring in Kansas. The governor of Kansas declared a State of Emergency on March 23rd, after 45 mph winds caused the fire to grow rapidly. The grass fire was first reported around 5:45 p.m. on March 22nd, in Woods County, Oklahoma. The fire was so large that radar sweeps picked it up, as winds helped spread it north into Kansas.

A statement from the Kansas Adjutant General’s office early March 24th declared the fire “under control” in Comanche County, but not yet to the east in Barber County. It added that voluntary evacuations had ended in the Lake City and Sun City communities. Fire officials stated that numerous communities and structures (800 to 1,000 homes) remained under threat as of March 25th. Two houses to the north of Medicine Lodge and two bridges in Barber County were destroyed by the fire.

Fire officials in Barber County anticipated that the blaze would continue through March 25th and were hopeful that they could get better control of it over the subsequent days. The National Weather Service said 25 mph winds are forecast in the area until noon on the 25th, when they were expected to drop to 15 mph and then to 10 mph by sunset. Humidity levels were also expected to improve throughout the day, making progress on containment more likely. As of March 25, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

http://www.kake.com/home/headlines/Mile-wide-grass-fire-in-Comanche-County-373205531.html

Image of the Anderson Creek Fire courtesy of the Oklahoma Forestry Services

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Brushfire consumes 2,500 acres on the island of Oahu

Oahu Brushfire Burns 2,500 acres

On Thursday, March 17th, Oahu Fire Department responded to reports of a brush fire near the community of Nanakuli. Arriving units reported a fast moving fire burning in light to medium fuels with limited access. The fire was driven by steep, inaccessible terrain and gusty winds. As of March 22, 2016, the fire was reported at 2,500 acres and 80% contained. No homes had been reported as damaged, though early on in the fire there were voluntary evacuations in place and some road closures.

For further information and updates, follow the story on KHON2.com.

 

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Wildland Fire Engine Types

A wildland fire engine is specifically designed to assist in fighting wildfires by transporting firefighters to the scene and providing them with access to the fire, along with water and/or other equipment. Most parks are located away from urban areas and maintain their own wildland fire protection and suppression equipment, including wildland fire engines. There are multiple types of wildfire apparatus which are used by the United States Forest Service depending on the scenario at hand. They come in different sizes (Types) depending upon how many gallons of water they hold and the gallons per minute (GPM) the pump can produce. Most wildland fire engines are four-wheel-drive and have off road capability and can thus climb hills and make it through rough terrain.

2354445_orig.jpgProduction Bulldog 4X4 Extreme Brush Truck
Image courtesy http://www.4x4firetruck.com

Depending on where the engine is positioned in relation to a fire, it may carry as much as twice the national standard in fire hose. In areas where there is rugged terrain that keeps engines from driving directly to the fire, large hose lays are installed to transport water to the fire area. In desert areas with moderate terrain, less hose is used as it is easier to access the fire. Often the technique of pump-and-roll is used where the vehicle drives with the pump engaged while a firefighter uses a hose to spray water on the fire. This pump-and-roll feature allows the engines to make “running attacks” on vegetation fires, a tactic that can help minimize the rate of spread by having a firefighter walk the edge of a fire with a hose line and the engine trailing close behind. One advantage of engine crews is the ability to build “wet line”. A wet line is a fireline that uses water or foam in place of digging to mineral soil. This minimizes the impact to vegetation and limits erosion.

In the fall of 2007, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group agreed on a set of standards for all fire engines that are used for wildland firefighting. As structure engines are sometimes used on wildland fires, though primarily for structure protection, they are also included in the NWCG engine typing. Per the standards there are 7 types of fire engines.

 

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Wildfire 101: Incident Command System (ICS)

When working a wildfire incident, knowing who you report to and who is expected to report to you is imperative to maintain effective and efficient incident management. A system has been developed and honed by wildland firefighters over the years into what is known as the Incident Command System (ICS).

ICS is typically broken out into five major functional areas:

  • Command – Controls overall incident management
  • Operations – “Boots on the ground”, accomplishes objectives
  • Planning – Manages planning process
  • Logistics – Provides incident support, ensures Operations has what they need to do their job
  • Finance/Admin – Manages funds for the incident

The Incident Command System was developed by CAL FIRE following a series of catastrophic wildfires in the 1970s. The studies of these events concluded response problems related to communication and management issues, rather than a lack of resources or skills and knowledge. Now, ICS has been implemented in Emergency Operations Centers across the country, as well as in other fields such as healthcare and business.

The structure of ICS is easily adaptable to many types of incidents. As an example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) relies on ICS when responding to disasters. As an incident develops, more units and divisions are added based upon functional or geographic need. The adaptability and flexibility of ICS allows for efficient expansion and seamless transition throughout the duration of an incident.

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 (Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency – ICS Resource Center)

Although these Sections (known as General Staff) are lateral and report up to the Incident Commander, they rely on each other to achieve the common goal and support each other. Operations needs Logistics to provide resources (people, machinery/vehicles, food/water) to achieve the incident objectives that the Planning team documents and tracks to make sure everyone is working toward a common goal.  Meanwhile, Finance/Admin keeps the incident within allowable budgets and ensures proper time tracking. All of this is overseen by and reported to the Incident Commander.

Depending on the incident, some timelines are longer and more developed than others. A small wildfire may be put out within a couple hours whereas others may last days, weeks, or months (such as the Chelan, WA fires of 2015). Throughout the incident, roles can easily be added or closed down as needed due to the flexible nature of the Incident Command System.

For further information on ICS and available training courses, please visit: FEMA’s ICS Resource Center.

 

History of Women in Firefighting

Women have been firefighters for over 200 years. The first woman firefighter was Molly Williams, who was a slave in New York City and became a member of Oceanus Engine Company #11 in 1815. During the blizzard of 1818, Molly was credited with pulling the pumper to fires through heavy snow and was known to be just as hard working as her male counterparts.

In Pittsburgh in 1820, Marina Betts made history serving as the first women volunteer firefighter for the city. Betts was said to have never missed an alarm during her 10 years of service, and was remembered for pouring buckets of water over male bystanders who refused to help put out fires.

Lillie Hitchcock Coit is also considered to be one of the first female firefighters in America. In 1859, Coit (who was still a teenager at the time) became an honorary member of San Francisco’s Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 5, when she helped the company haul the engine to a fire on Telegraph Hill.

By 1910 all-women volunteer fire companies were running in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Los Angeles, California. During World War II, many women entered the volunteer fire service to take the place of men who had been called into active duty service for the military. Two military fire departments in Illinois were staffed entirely by women for part of the war. In 1942 the first all-female forest firefighting crew in California was created

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, fire departments could no longer prevent women from applying for jobs as firefighters. Many women went to work for the departments but were still ostracized by their male colleagues and much of the protective equipment they were issued did not fit properly. Another major hurdle to entrance into firefighting for women was the lack of facilities. The immediate problem of sleeping quarters and bathing areas had to be solved before women could participate fully in firefighting as an occupation and as a culture. Communal showers and open bunk halls were designed for men only. Today, most stations are now designed to accommodate firefighters of both genders. Despite those issues, women continued to make great strides in the firefighting profession that still continues to this day. Presently, over 7,000 women now hold career firefighting and fire officer’s positions in the United States, with thousands more in Canada, Great Britain, and other countries throughout the world.

lillie_hitchcock.jpgLillie Hitchcock Coit, one of the first female firefighters in America.

Source: History of Women in Firefighting

Guadalupe Pass Fire active in Southern New Mexico

The Guadalupe Pass Fire started in the Penloncillo Mountains in the Coronado National Forest in New Mexico shortly after 5:30 am on March 2nd. As of March 4th, the fire had burned 5,100 acres and was 15% contained. The fire burned in grass and brush and is exhibited moderate fire behavior with winds around 15 mph, according to fire officials. The fire was determined to have been human-caused, but specific information pertaining to the ignition source was still under investigation with local Law Enforcement Agencies as of March 4th.

Approximately 120 firefighters were called to the scene and performed burn out operations on the south end of the mountains near Guadalupe Pass. Fire officials had expected to increase the percentage of containment over the initial several days, although acreage was expected to increase as burn out operations continued. The closest structures were three miles away to the North, Northeast, and West of the fire and were not threatened.

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4664/

 

 

Guadalupe Fire Perimeter as of 3/4/2016 – Reported at 5,100 acres

Wildfires active in Oklahoma so far in 2016

 Two fire weather events early this year have Oklahoma leading the nation in wildfires to date with 226. Thirteen fires remain uncontained in the state as of March 1, even despite a recent decline in fire weather concern. 

 

 Active Fires in OK as of March 1st, 2016

Multiple red flag warnings were issued for the second time this month as another critical fire weather event took place over the weekend (27th and 28th of February). Fire officials were well prepared for another outbreak as just a week earlier (February 18-19), a number of large wildfires flared up across the state. To date this year there have been 226* wildfires across Oklahoma with the largest (Pharoah Fire) burning over 21,000 acres. The majority of the ignitions have been human-caused, resulting in quick-moving grass fires.  The map above highlights the 13 still-uncontained fires in the state. 

*Source NIFC.GOV

 

Two-alarm brush fire closes Malibu-area highway, now contained

According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, a brush fire that scorched about 10 acres along the Malibu ridgeline is now 100% contained. Tragically, the incident left a twenty-two year old female inmate, who was deployed as a firefighter, critically injured and airlifted from the scene. She later died from the blow to the head from a falling rock sustained at the fire fight.

 

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Muholland Fire in RedZone’s RZAlert Dashboard

“The last official report we had was that it was 95 percent contained by 8:30 p.m. (Feb 25th) but it’s fully contained now. We just have a few pieces of equipment out at the scene and a small number of firefighters doing mop-up,” said county fire Dispatch Supervisor Miguel Ornelas.

The blaze started in the area of Mulholland Highway and Bardman Street about 3 a.m. on Feb 25th. About 200 firefighters were deployed to the scene, said county fire Dispatch Supervisor Rey Dong.

By about 6:30 a.m. on Feb 25th, the fire was approximately 35 percent contained, and firefighters had stopped the flames from spreading further, said county fire Inspector Randall Wright. By 11 a.m. the fire was 75% contained.

A voluntary evacuation order was in effect for residents in the area. About 80 people, including children and staff members, were at Camp Shalom, where buses were dispatched in case the campers needed to move. Nearby Camp Bloomfield was not affected, according to the sheriff’s department.

Source: Santa Monica Patch