Junkins Fire in Custer County, Colorado

Junkins Fire Summary

The Junkins fire started early Monday morning (10/17) in the Junkins Park area of Custer County Colorado during Red Flag Warning conditions. The fire exhibited extreme fire behavior due to dry conditions and 70 mph wind gusts.  Officials moved to evacuate homes in the immediate fire path as the fire quickly burned to over 15,000 acres as of 1:30 pm today (10/18). A type-1 incident management team has been ordered and is expected to take over command of the fire tomorrow morning (10/19/2016).

Junkins Fire Perimeter Map

The Junkins Fire perimeter as of October 18, 2016

Fire Outlook

Officials expect fierce winds to continue through tonight, but the fire’s growth has slowed as firefighters focus on structure protection and building containment lines. There has been some significant progress made on the north side of the fire, and fire officials are hopeful to stop forward progress of the north front overnight. There are four air tankers, seven helicopters, and 115 firefighters on scene, with more resources on the way.

Example Fire Facts

  • As of: October 18th, 2016
  • Location: 11 miles east of Westcliffe, CO
  • Size: 15,751 acres
  • Containment: 0%
  • Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread through conifers, aspen and grass.
  • Structures Threatened: 281 (reported)
  • Structures Destroyed: 7 (2 homes and 5 outbuildings)
  • Evacuations: 250 homes are under mandatory evacuation and 3,500 homes are in a pre-evacuation status.
  • Incident Page: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5071/
  • News Article: The Gazette

Twelve Weeks Later: Soberanes Fire 100% Contained

Soberanes Fire Recap

The Soberanes Fire in northern California has finally wound down, with officials marking the blaze at 100% contained as of Wednesday evening (10/12).  The fire ignited from an illegal campfire on July 22nd–a full twelve weeks ago–and in the first week, destroyed 57 residences and 11 outbuildings.  Luckily, no other losses have been reported since then.


How Soberanes Compares to Other Fires

The progress of the fire has been mostly stalled for weeks, with fire crews focusing on building containment lines in the troublesome and rugged terrain of the Ventana Wilderness (LPF).  Subsequently, the fire perimeter and acreage has not budged much since late September.  Collectively, the fire has topped a record $250m in suppression costs, dwarfing the previous high from 2002 of $165m (Biscuit Fire). The Soberanes Fire finished its run at 132,127 acres which is good for 17th place in California’s documented history and 6th largest ever in the Los Padres National Forest. The sheer size of the wildfire is apparent in comparison to both the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City.

Soberanes Fire size comparison with SF and NYC

Soberanes Fire size comparison with NYC and SF


Soberanes Fire Facts (10/14)

  • Started: July 22nd, 2016
  • Contained: Oct 12th, 2016 (83 days)
  • Location:  Big Sur, CA
  • Size: 132,127 acres
    • 94,933 acres CA-LPF – 72%
    • 37,194 acres CALFIRE BEU – 28%
  • Containment: 100%
  • Fire Behavior: Interior smoldering with sporadic smoke possible.
  • Structures Threatened: 0
  • Structures Destroyed: 68 (57 primary, 11 outbuildings)
  • Cost to Date: $249.9+ million
  • Incident Page: Inciweb
  • News Article: KSBW News


IMT Assignments

Since the blaze began, seven different incident management teams have been assigned to the storied fire (see list below). California’s IMT2 (Mills) team is expected to see out the remaining 21% of suppression repair and continue to BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) operations.  The full list of IMTs assigned to Soberanes:

  • CAL FIRE Team 4 IC (Derum) taking command on 07/23/2016 at 1200
  • CAL FIRE IMT (Derum) in unified command with CA IMT1 (von Tillow) on 08/05/2016
  • CA IMT1 (von Tillow) in unified command with CAL FIRE IMT (King BEU) 08/19/2016 at 0600
  • CA IMT1 (von Tillow) transferred command to AK IMT1 (Kurth) @ 0700 8/24/2016, No more unified command
  • CA IMT1 (Opliger) will transition on 09/13/2016 at 0600
  • CA IMT2 (Arroyo) assumed command of incident 09/29/2016 at 0800
  • CA IMT2 (Mills) will assume command 10/13/2016 at 0600

Sources:

Inciweb

NIFC

KSBW News

Loma Fire Burns in Santa Cruz Mountains

The Loma fire started Monday afternoon (9/26) along Loma Chiquita Road in Los Gatos, CA and quickly spread along the ridgeline to the north and east. As the fire began growing, it threatened numerous structures and radio towers along Loma Chiquita Ridge. Subsequently, homeowners began to evacuate the area before any official evacuations were put in place simply due to the extreme fire behavior that was being observed. Concern over the fire’s extreme behavior prompted the diversion of fire crews that were originally en route to the Sawmill fire.  Those crews were reassigned to become initial-attack resources on the Loma incident instead. Currently, fire officials are reporting that 7 structures were lost and 300 others are threatened by the blaze. As of midday Tuesday (9/27) the Loma Fire is 2,000 acres and 5% contained.

Loma Fire Perimeter from this morning's Flight

Loma Fire Perimeter from this morning’s IR flight


Loma Fire Outlook

The fire burned overnight and continues to spew smoke in the Santa Cruz Mountains today. The nearby Morgan Hill Webcam is showing the fire growing on the east side of the 3,700 ft. Loma Prieta Peak. As the fire moves into its second burn period, more resources are set to arrive to help contain the blaze. Fortunately, the hot and dry weather of the past few days Santa Ana influence will subside tomorrow. Coastal areas will see onshore flow return today and a cooling trend will arrive Wednesday and Thursday with a Pacific trough approaching the area. As a result, temperatures will substantially drop, RH levels will rise, and the extreme fire conditions should diminish (though strong NW winds are set to arrive). Furthermore, the forecast calls for a return to autumn-like conditions with highs in the 60s and 70s by the end of the week.

Loma Fire Facts

  • As of: 1400 PDT, September 27, 2016
  • Location: Los Gatos, CA
  • Size: 2,000 acres
  • Containment: 5%
  • Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread through tall grass and brush in steep, rugged terrain.
  • Structures Threatened: 300 (reported)
  • Structures Destroyed: 7 (estimated)
  • Evacuations: Are in place
  • Incident Page: Cal Fire Incident Page
  • News Article: SF Chronicle
  • Live Webcam: http://www.morganhillwebcam.com/

Sources:

Weather Underground

CALFIRE

NIFC.GOV

Soberanes Fire over 100,000 acres, costs crest $200 million

Soberanes Fire Summary

The Soberanes Fire is eight weeks old today, starting way back on July 22nd. We have been closely monitoring the blaze as it has burned most of the summer. This month, the fire has well surpassed 100,000 acres and is still only 57% contained. Early on, the fire destroyed 57 residences and 11 outbuildings in Palo Colorado Canyon. Currently, there are more than 1,437 firefighters on scene fighting the blaze which is primarily in the rugged Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest (LPF). 410 structures remain threatened with evacuation warnings in effect. Full containment is not expected until September 30th. A few highlights on the fire are seen in the eight-week timeline below.

Picture2

Soberanes Fire has been burning for eight weeks and counting


Soberanes Fire Outlook

The fire has been predominantly growing south and east in the Ventana Wilderness of the LPF for the last couple weeks. Due to good work by crews and holding containment lines the fire has stayed east of Big Sur and west of Carmel Valley Road. Yet firing operations on the east side of the fire remain the main objective of late, as fire crews try to further increase containment by connecting indirect line near Chew’s Ridge in Divisions J, K, and L to the completed line north of the Los Padres Dam.  Consequently, a successful effort in the coming days will add both acreage and containment in those divisions. Furthermore, air attack activity will pick up as their resources will assist in keeping fuels adjacent to the indirect fire line from igniting.   Meanwhile, on the southern, coastal side of the fire, crews continue to work hard securing and improving the established containment lines. They have been successful holding the fire east of an established dozer line on the ridge above Big Sur.

Next week, the Soberanes fire will reach its ninth week (and on the 23rd, enter its third month). The fire has burned 65% on federal lands and 35% on state lands. Suppression costs for the entirety have soared to over $200 million with an average of $3.58 million spent each day. If the fire were fully contained today, the feds would be on the hook for over $130 million and CALFIRE for the other $70+ million. At that rate, if firefighters were to reach full containment on September 30th, the suppression cost would eclipse $250 million (not including costs from damages incurred). If they can’t connect containment lines in the near future, likely the fire will continue to burn until fall weather, rains, or cooler temperatures stall its activity.

Soberanes Fire near Big Sur, CA is now over 100,000 acres and still growing

Soberanes Fire Progression: Continues burning near Big Sur, CA and is now over 100,000 acres and growing


Soberanes Fire Facts (9/16)

  • Started: July 22nd, 2016
  • Location: Ventana Wilderness, Big Sur, CA
  • Size: 108,031 acres (70,285 acres CA-LPF; 37,194 acres CALFIRE)
  • Containment: 57%
  • Fire Behavior: Slow fire spread through timber, chaparral, and tall grass in steep, rugged terrain.
  • Structures Threatened: 410 (reported)
  • Structures Destroyed: 68 (57 primary, 11 outbuildings)
  • Evacuations: Warnings remain in place
  • Cost to Date: $200.4 million
  • Incident Page: Inciweb
  • News Article: Big Sur News

Sources:

  • Big Sur Kate
  • Inciweb
  • NIFC

Western States Wildfires Continue to March On

Many western states wildfires continue to burn at average to above-average levels for the month of August. Fire resources are currently working on 36 large fires that are actively burning 587,843 acres. California continues to be the focus of firefighting efforts as thousands of residents near many large fires remain evacuated from their homes. The Great Basin and Pacific Northwest Areas also have a lot of fire activity, but firefighters are beginning to gain the upper hand on these large burns.

Western States Wildfires Stress Resources

With resources assigned to fires across the states, initial attack resources are near or at draw down levels. This worries fire managers as they may not have enough manpower locally to contain new starts that they would normally be able to stop at full strength. Numerous fires in California are burning in inaccessible terrain with drought and beetle stricken fuels.

Unprecedented Behavior

Numerous western states wildfires are exhibiting behavior that 30- and 40-year veterans have never seen. The Bluecut Fire in particular burned over 30,000 acres in 24 hours, exhibiting similar conditions as the Sand fire in Santa Clarita. California firefighters’ concern may increase due to Santa Ana season being just around the corner.

Current Numbers at a Glance

  • Seven Type 1 Incident Management Teams are assigned.
  • Nine Type 2 Incident Management Teams are assigned.
  • 19,695 incident personnel are assigned.
  • Current active fires in the western states have destroyed 260 structures.

Western States Wildfires

Fires Devastate Tiny Portuguese Island of Madeira

Madeira Fire Summary

Last week, multiple destructive wildfires scorched the steep mountainsides of Portugal’s famous Madeira Island. Madeira is the largest of an archipelago of four islands (an autonomous region of Portugal), located off the northwest coast of Africa. The fires ignited after weeks of hot and dry weather and quickly spread with strong winds up the steep terrain of the island, forcing hundreds to evacuate in two heavily populated areas. The firefight was complicated by the fact that Madeira has no firefighting aircraft.  Neighboring countries hundreds of miles across the Atlantic lent spare helicopters and a water-scooping aircraft, but those assets took precious time to arrive, and allowed the fires to rage uncontrolled under only a ground attack.

Hasty Evacuations

As the flames bore down late Tuesday (8/9) residents and visitors in areas in the outskirts of Madeira’s capital city, Funchal, fled their homes and hotels in order to escape. Portuguese media had footage of a elderly facility being evacuated in the middle of the night (Tuesday), some with no shoes or in their wheelchairs. Others looked on helplessly as the flames engulfed their homes. Tragically, three elderly residents at that facility were not able to evacuate in time and one other was seriously injured.

Madeira Fire Locations

Estimated Fire Perimeters near Calheta to the west and Funchal to the east


Madeira Fire Aftermath

Many evacuated residents have returned in the past week to find their homes damaged or even destroyed. A reported assessment of the impact found 300 residences affected by the incident with 177 of them completely wiped out. More than just residences were lost, as a well-known hotel–the Choupana Hills–was also one of the casualties. NASA’s infrared images of the fire helped RedZone estimate the acreage at over 18,000 acres (around 7400 hectares).

Long-term Effects

The Madeira fires have impacted the island’s infrastructure and may damage the appeal to the roughly one million tourists who visit the island each year. Cruise ships have had to cancel activities this week in Funchal due to the fire’s impact. Madeira officials have estimated that the fires will cost the island around €61 million ($69 million USD) in repairs in Funchal alone. Cristiano Ronaldo, a native of Funchal and national hero, was devastated by the news and has pledged financial support to his home island in the wake of the devastation.

Madeira Fire Facts

  • Started: Monday, August 8th, 2016
  • Location: Madeira, Portugal
  • Size: 18,822 acres (Estimated using NASA Imagery)
  • Structures Affected: 300
  • Structures Destroyed: 177
  • Evacuations: Hundreds were evacuated
  • News Article: Portugal News


Sources: Portugal News, Wildfire Today, NASA

Bluecut Fire Engulfs 30,000 Acres in 24 hours

RedZone is monitoring the Bluecut Fire, a fast moving brush fire burning in the Cajon Pass area north of San Bernardino. The fire originated along the 15 Freeway and grew with explosive intensity to over 30,000 acres in less than 24 hours. Firefighters have struggled to gain an upper hand on the fire as it spreads rapidly across the canyons and flatlands, forcing more than 80,000 people to evacuate. Ground crews are focused on defensive firefighting, clearing brush and laying hose line, while air attacks bombard the area with fire retardant and water drops.

An unknown number of homes have been lost since yesterday but some estimates put the number over a dozen. Several businesses, utility infrastructure, a historic diner and at least one church have also been consumed by the flames.  Fortunately only minor injuries have been reported to date, but officials report that damage assessment teams and cadaver dogs will begin searching homes along Highway 138 as soon as possible.

A fire crew was overrun yesterday while defending structures, when fast approaching flames overtook their position. The firefighters were forced to take shelter as the flames encircled them and 2 crew members suffered inhalation injuries. The injured crew members have been treated and released from a nearby hospital and are currently back on the fire line helping defend positions.

Bluecut Fire Near Cajon Pass

Blue Cut Fire (08/17/2016) Near Cajon Junction Southeast of Hesperia.

Blue Cut Fire Outlook

California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency and a National Type 1 Incident Management Team has been requested. Currently there are over 1,300 personnel on scene with multiple engines, air tankers and helicopters supporting their efforts. Additional resources are in route to the fire and the area remains under a red flag warning. The current weather conditions have contributed to the critical fire conditions with temperatures near 100 degrees, very low humidity and wind gusts as high as 30mph.

Bluecut Fire Facts (8/17/2016)

  • Started: August 16th, 2016
  • Location: Cajon Junction , CA
  • Size: 32,939 acres
  • Containment: 0%
  • Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread through brush in hills, canyons and flatland.
  • Structures Threatened: 34,506
  • Structures Destroyed: An unknown number of structures have been destroyed.
  • Evacuations: Are in place for the communities of Wrightwood, Phelan and Lytle Creek.
  • Incident Page: Inciweb
  • News Article: LA Times

Soberanes Fire Update: now over 50% contained

Soberanes Fire Summary

The Soberanes Fire started as the result of an illegal campfire that was left unattended on July 22nd within the Garrapata State Park to the south of Monterey. The fire is now over 70,000 acres and is 55% contained. Currently, there are more than 5,300 firefighters on scene fighting the blaze. Damage assessments remain unchanged with 57 residences and 11 outbuildings destroyed, along with 3 structures and 2 outbuildings damaged, mostly in Palo Colorado, 15 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Full containment is not expected until August 31st.

Soberanes Fire Perimeter (8/12)

Soberanes Fire Location (8/12), between Big Sur and Carmel Highlands south of Monterey


Soberanes Fire Outlook

The fire had minimal growth in lower elevations again Thursday night as the marine layer kept the fire in check. Yesterday’s firing operation on the north part of Coast Ridge continued to be hot overnight with new MODIS heat detections picking up where an island of unburned fuel burned off near Dani Ridge. Morning reports had the high elevation areas near Ventana Double Cone as having actively burned yesterday and overnight as well. The majority of fire activity has been limited to the area of Uncle Sam Mountain and Coast Ridge, exhibiting mostly backing, creeping, and smoldering along with a few sustained uphill runs.

As mentioned, firing operations took place yesterday (8/11) along Coast Ridge and are being planned–dependent on weather–for the coming days to strengthen containment lines in the Big Sur area. This could close Highway 1 periodically over the next few days. Specifically, fire managers are trying to prevent the fire from crossing the Big Sur River Gorge where it could make a hard uphill run, and aiming to keep the fire out of the inhabited coastal canyons above Nepenthe, Pfeiffer Falls, and Big Sur Lodge.

Air quality in the Big Sur area will be poor again today at the lower elevations. The warming and drying trend that began yesterday will continue today as high pressure builds. Areas removed from the marine layer will see their hottest conditions since last week. Overnight humidity recoveries will be poor over the upper slopes and ridges. The warming trend will bring slightly more intense fire conditions above the marine layer, with areas below it continuing the low intensity and minimal spread.

Soberanes Fire Facts (8/12)

  • Started: July 22nd, 2016
  • Location: Big Sur, CA
  • Size: 70,615 acres
  • Containment: 55%
  • Fire Behavior: Slow fire spread through timber, chaparral, and tall grass in steep, rugged terrain.
  • Structures Threatened: 410 (reported)
  • Structures Destroyed: 68 (57 primary, 11 outbuildings)
  • Evacuations: Are in place
  • Incident Page: CALFIRE Information
  • News Article: KSBW News

 

Soberanes Fire Burns 45,000 Acres, Forces Evacuations

Soberanes Fire Forces Evacuations

The Soberanes Fire started burning the morning of July 22nd within the Garrapata State Park to the south of Monterey. As of August 3rd, it had grown to over 45,800 acres forcing some 350 residents to evacuate. Damage assessments report 57 residences and 11 outbuildings burned, along with 3 structures and 2 outbuildings damaged (mostly in Palo Colorado).

Tragically, one fatality has occurred as the result of the fire. Robert Oliver Reagan III, 35, of Friant in Fresno County was killed when his bulldozer overturned while helping to battle the fire in the remote southeast region of the fire.

Firefighters On Scene

Currently, there are more than 5,300 firefighters on scene fighting the blaze in remote and rugged terrain. Crews have established five fire lines around the valley, and in the last few days have lit several backfires on the south end of the fire perimeter to slow the spread.  Six power outages have been reported since the fire’s inception and flames continue to threaten infrastructure.  Pacific Gas and Electric crews have begun the task of repairing powerlines and hope to return service to the areas affected as quickly as possible.

CalFire reports that full containment is not expected until August 31st, and the final burn scar could potentially reach 165,000 acres.  RedZone will continue to closely monitor the fire’s growth to the south and east in the coming days and weeks.

 

Soberanes Fire Perimeter

Soberanes Fire Facts As of 08/03/2016:

  • Location: Carmel, CA
  • Size: 45,800 acres
  • Containment: 25%
  • Fire Behavior: Fire spread through steep, rugged and inaccessible terrain.
  • Structures Threatened: 2,000
  • Structures Destroyed: 57 homes, 11 outbuildings
  • Incident Page: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4888/#

Cliff Creek Fire Burns 11,000 Acres Near Jackson, WY

The Cliff Creek Fire was first discovered on July 17th approximately 5 miles north of the town of Bondurant, Wyoming. The lightning-caused fire quickly spread in thick, contiguous timber. It burned across and subsequently closed highway 191/89 which connects Bondurant to Jackson in Teton County.

Cliff Creek Fire near Bondurant, WY

Cliff Creek Fire near Bondurant, WY

Great Basin Incident Management Team 7 has command of the fire as of July 22, 2016. Since it originated, the Cliff Creek Fire has burned across Hwy 191/89, up Game Hill, and NE towards Granite and Shoal Creek, burning from 5 acres to now well over 10,000. The fire initially prompted evacuations of campgrounds, residences in Dell and Jack Creeks, then Granite Creek homes, and closed both roads and recreation areas nearby. Structure protection groups took over many of those areas, prepping the 50 threatened structures and homes and reducing hazards near them. Direct attack from ground and air has kept the fire out of Granite Creek and other populated areas so far, but a future threat remains.

Cliff Creek Fire Outlook

Contingency lines, structure protection, and containment line construction remain the main goals of the command team. The Great Basin Coordination Center has now assigned a Type 1 Team as the full containment effort will require a significant boost in resource commitment to ensure success. The fire continues to move to the north and east and is expected to increase in activity due to critical fire weather conditions in the area and the fire falling in alignment with creeks and drainages.  In total, 619 firefighters and personnel are on scene to suppress the blaze.

Cliff Creek Fire Facts:

  • Location: 5 Miles north of Bondurant, Wyoming
  • Size: 11,534 acres
  • Containment: 10%
  • Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread with increased fire behavior to the east. Fire activity expected to intensify with Red Flag Warnings and a Haines Index of 6 in the area.
  • Structures Threatened: 50
  • Structures Destroyed: 1
  • Inciweb Page: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4865/
  • Cliff Creek Updates also at: Teton County Emergency Management