Thousands evacuated as Idaho wildfire grows
AP: More than 2,300 houses were evacuated in Idaho this week as strong winds stoked the nearby Beaver Creek Fire. The wildfire, reportedly ignited by lightning Aug. 7, is estimated to have grown to 144 square miles and is 6 percent contained.
More than 700 firefighters are battling the blaze near the Idaho ski town Ketchum.
An additional 7,500 homes are on evacuation alert as the fire continues to grow.
Photo: Helicopters battle the 64,000 acre Beaver Creek Fire on Friday, Aug., 16, 2013 north of Hailey, Idaho. A number of residential neighborhoods have been evacuated because of the blaze.(AP Photo/Times-News, Ashley Smith)
Posts tagged firefighters.
JOE PETERS, assistant principal at Prescott High School in Arizona; 14 of the 19 wilderness firefighters killed in the Yarnell blaze on Sunday were in their twenties and based in nearby Prescott.
Superior profile from NatGeo.
Who are the elite hotshots, which lost 19 firefighters in a Arizona blaze on Sunday?
The 19 firefighters who lost their lives battling a raging wildfire in centralArizona on Sunday were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite crew of U.S. wildfire firefighters based in Prescott, Arizona.
Hotshot crews—there are roughly 107 in the U.S.—consist of 20 firefighters who have been specifically trained to respond to fires in remote regions with little or no logistical support.
"In the world of wildland firefighting today, the hotshot crews are similar to the Special Forces in the military," said Dick Smith, a retired firefighter who spent 38 years fighting wildfires with the U.S. Fire Service. "They’re highly trained and can meet the highest physical requirements."
Candidates for the Granite Mountain Hotshots had to show that they could pass the arduous Pack Test and complete a series of physical activities, ranging from 40 sit-ups in 60 seconds to 7 pull-ups to a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) run in just under 11 minutes.
"We believe in rigorous physical and mental training, which allows us to perform at the optimum level in any location and under any circumstances," said the Hotshots’ website.
"We are routinely exposed to extreme environmental conditions, long work hours, long travel hours and the most demanding of fire line tasks."
Becoming a Hotshot
The 2,000 or so firefighters who make up the nation’s elite hotshot crews work in groups of 20, in crews scattered across the United States. During peak wildfire season, the crews are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
1/5th of department lost. “Hotshots" are our nation’s most elite fire fighter. They work in teams of 20, and hike miles while carrying 40-50 pounds of equipment each into extreme terrains. They are very physically strong, train for many months, and are pridefully dedicated to protecting America’s lands. According to an official quoted in this article, Hotshots work long hours and will often sleep near the wildfires to help teams develop fire lines (a technique used to stop fires from spreading). I hate to say that more brave firefighters will be hurt and possibly die due to increasing droughts and extreme temperatures over the decades to come.
Nineteen firefighters were killed Sunday battling a blaze in Arizona, the state forestry division said.
They were part of an elite squad confronting wildfires on the front line, setting up barriers to stop the spreading destruction. But in their unpredictable world, it doesn’t take much to turn a situation deadly.
In this case, a wind shift and other factors caused a central Arizona fire, which now spans almost 9,000 acres, to become erratic, said Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman.
The inferno proved too much, even for the shelters the 19 firefighters carried as a last-ditch survival tool.
"The fuels were very dry, the relative humidity was low, the wind was coming out of the south. It turned around on us because of monsoon action," Reichling told CNN affiliate KNXV. "That’s what caused the deaths.
The firefighters from Prescott were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix.
Click through for the Denver Post’s coverage of the Black Forest Fire, the worst in the state’s history. The cause of the fire is unknown, but the severity is traced to persistent drought, massive tree deaths by bark beetles, dry soils, and budget cuts.
The sequester (a budget deal Obama made with republicans last year) cut more than $115 million from the federal wildland fire program budget, USDA officials have said, at a time when the nation continues to face abnormally dry conditions, particularly in the West, as a result of climate change.
During one of the worst wildfire seasons on record amid a historic drought, the USDA Forest Service ran out of money last year to pay firefighters, operate trucks and fly aircraft. The agency borrowed money from fire management budgets, which help prevent fires, to pay for suppression.
Given the cuts in the Forest Service’s fire budget because of sequestration, and the outlook for significant fire potential in much of the West, that process could play out again, a USDA spokesman said.
“If the U.S. Forest Service exhausts funding . . . for fire suppression in 2013, as it did in 2012, it will be necessary for the agency to transfer funds from other programs to cover fire suppression costs,” said the spokesman, Larry Chambers.
Wildfires in Spain still blazing. Spain was not prepared for the number of fires this year - a peak into the future… More here.
Marines called in to help fight wildfires.
Wildfires roast western states
At least 70 large fires were burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. California had the most with 13, followed by Nevada with 12 and Idaho with 10, the center said.
The Marines joined the fight on Wednesday, with helicopter units from California joining U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and California in fighting the fires by air. The Marine units will help fight fires around San Diego.
"…hundreds of federal scientists in charge of environmental monitoring are being laid off as part of the 1,500 government professionals affected by Conservative budget cuts.
"Doctors, biologists, chemists are being shown the door. These scientists monitor environmental changes that can threaten the health of Canadians," said MP Hélène LeBlanc…
"Prime Minister Harper has dropped any pretence that he cares about Canada’s natural environment, reducing the federal government’s oversight role to miniscule proportions," said May, who represents British Columbia’s Saanich-Gulf Islands in Parliament."
Click through. Stunning photographs of recent wildfires in the southwest.
The sky turns a brilliant orange as smoke from the High Park Fire fills the sky near Laporte, Colorado, on June 10, 2012.
See more. [Image: Reuters]
BREAKING: The raging High Park fire has jumped the Poudre River at Stevens Gulch and is racing up a drainage toward the Glacier View Meadows neighborhood.
At 5:15 p.m., Larimer County issued an immediate evacuation order for the Glacier View Meadows neighborhood.
The High Park fire has now burned more than 52,000 acres northwest of Fort Collins, fire managers said. (Photo by Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)
Wildfire season is well underway. Based on the number of acres burned in 2012 to date, this year is running below the 10-year average (1,012,419 acres compared to 1,546,333 acres). What’s notable though is that although there have been fewer fires (24,062 this year-to-date versus 33,755 for the 10-year average), a few are giant beasts.
This fire may have been caused by a state controlled burn.
Lower North Fork Fire in Jefferson County, Colorado
— More than 400 firefighters from several states were focusing on building containment lines around the wildfire, which broke out Monday. Until now, the fire’s erratic pattern has forced firefighters to focus on protecting homes, not stopping the burn.
- Crews have been able to achieve 15% containment on the fire. The current affected area has been updated to 4140 acres.
- Air crews dropped more than 4100 gallons of retardant on the fire on Wednesday.
- The number of damaged structures remains at 27. The owners of all but one structure have been notified.
- A search team using dogs continues to look for a woman missing in the fire zone. Her home was among those destroyed or damaged.
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has suspended the use of state prescribed burns like the one that may have caused the fire.