On the front lines of California’s Rim Fire

August 31, 2013

rim-fire-nightfire-usfs-mike-mcmillan-smThe massive Rim Fire burning in and around California’s Yosemite National Park is now the largest U.S. wildfire in 2013 and currently the nation’s top priority as many residents remain evacuated as of Saturday morning (31-August).

As of Sat evening, Inciweb is reporting the Rim Fire is 222,777 acres and 40% contained with over 5,000 personnel battling the blazes, and officials are projecting they may have full containment by late September.

Unfortunately this beast is human-caused and, although investigators have not determined the official cause yet, a local Fire Chief has indicated it may be the result of illegal pot growers.

According to National Parks Service Fire and Aviation Mgmt, as many as 90% of wildland fires in the U.S. are caused by humans. Some human-caused fires result from…

  • campfires left unattended
  • burning of debris
  • negligently discarded cigarettes
  • off-road vehicles
  • firearms + exploding targets
  • intentional acts of arson

The remaining 10% are started by lightning or lava. In addition, wildfires caused by lightning burn an average of 5.5 million acres annually.

Acreage burned comes from a variety of factors…

  • climate shift to a hotter, drier West after decades of cooler weather
  • pine beetle infestations that create more fuel to burn
  • decades of fire suppression

Even though it seems like much of the western U.S. is burning, the National Interagency Fire Center reports 34,388 fires have burned almost 3.8 million acres in the U.S. from January 1 – August 31, 2013 … which is well below the 10 year average of 54,072 fires that burned 6 million acres for this same time period.

Below are some amazing shots of the Rim Fire and the incredible Hotshots and firefighters working the front lines…

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View From Pilot Peak Lookout / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan

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The National Park Service (NPS) fire crew is helping to protect the Giant Sequoias in Tuolumne Grove, about 16 miles (26 km) west of Yosemite Village on Tioga Pass Road in Yosemite National Park. Credit: USFS

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Fire Crews construct fireline / Credit: USFS-Mike Mcmillan

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Silver State IHC on South Flank / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan

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Credit: USFS

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Credit: USFS

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Melted Power Meter / Credit: USFS-Mike McMillan

Please review and share some safety resources from our partners at U.S. First Responders Association…

Wildfire Mitigation tips

Tips for Fire Safety in the Wilderness This Summer

Protect Yourself and Others from Wildfire Smoke

and visit USFRA’s Wildland Fire Prevention and Safety group to learn more.

Stay safe and have a great weekend all! j & B

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Arizona wildfire kills 19 of our elite firefighters + The Hotshot’s Prayer

July 1, 2013

yarnell hill fire photo APArizona suffered a devastating loss yesterday. Nineteen firefighters from the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, died Sunday fighting an out-of-control wildfire in Yarnell, a tiny Yavapai County town roughly 80 miles northwest of Phoenix.

About half of the town’s 500 homes were feared destroyed by the blaze, which began early Friday evening and had spread to 8,374 acres by early Monday. All of Yarnell and the neighboring Peeples Valley were evacuated. Fire crews reported no containment as of Monday morning (1-Jul-2013).

The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wildland fire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park fire of Los Angeles, which killed 29. The most firefighters — 340 — were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots, established in 2002, were an elite ground firefighting crew known for their innovative problem-solving and history of safe, aggressive fire suppression.

Members of the crew were highly trained, came from diverse backgrounds, and worked long hours in extreme environmental conditions doing the most demanding of fireline tasks.

According to The Daily Courier

  • They carried 50-70 pounds on their back, hiked seven miles or more to where they needed to work, and worked up to 14 hours, sometimes longer.
  • The average age of the men in the hotshot crew was 27-years-old.
  • “They have to be ready to leave for an assignment on two hours’ notice, which sometimes means missing family events,”Wade Ward of the Prescott FD said last week. “They have to be prepared to be on that assignment for 21 days, get two days rest at home, and possibly be sent out on another 21-day assignment.”

prescott granite mountain hotshots

Prior to the Yarnell Hill fire which took nearly all of their lives, the team had just returned from a wildfire in New Mexico.

Just one week ago, the same crew also led the charge against the massive Doce fire in the Prescott National Forest.

We’d like to take a moment to extend our condolences to the elite fallen firefighters, their families, the cities of Yarnell and Prescott and the entire firefighter nation. Words can never adequately express the gratitude we have for all first responders who sacrifice so much to help keep us safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this and other wildfires ravaging the nation. Bill & Janet Liebsch, FedHealth, Tucson AZ

iaff logo used on yarnell prescott arizona 19 memorial program

arizona prescott yarnell 19 hot shot prayer

prescott arizona firefighters killed yarnell hill fire


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