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Keep up with the latest news and updates about the hottest partnership in the Pacific connecting scientists, land managers, communities, and first responders for improved wildfire management.
Puna Regional Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Fair
When: August 30th
Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. HAST
Where: Kea'au High School
Get Prepared, Stay Alive,
Rebuild Your Life
When: September 16th
Time: 7-8 a.m. HAST
Presenter: Linda Masterson, Author, "Surviving Wildfire: Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life"
Sponsors: National Fire Protection Agency, Firewise
User Needs Assessment Workshop for the Rangeland Vegetation Simulator
When: September 19th
Time: 8-4:30 p.m. HAST
Where: RMRS HQ, Fort Collins, CO
When: September 27th
Time: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. HAST
Where: Waikoloa Stables, Waikoloa
Ready, Set, Go! Wildfire Preparedness Workshop Big Island-Wide Tour 7/21-8/4/14
HWMO got a taste of what it's like to be in a band after a 3-week Big Island-wide workshop tour promoting wildfire preparedness. The Ready, Set, Go! Wildfire Preparedness Workshops were led by HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett and Education and Outreach Coordinator Pablo Beimler in an effort to rally community members to take action in and around the home far in advance of wildfire season. Those who attended the workshops learned about Hawaii's wildfire issues and how they could mitigate those issues through proper home landscaping techniques and home structure modifications. They also learned about how to develop a clear and achievable family emergency plan, what actions to take during a wildfire, and proper evacuation procedures. Each attendee walked home with a free copy of the new Ready, Set, Go! Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guide that could be used as a step-by-step tool for carrying out the recommended actions. Contact us if you'd like to receive a guide or better yet, stop by our office to pick one up and meet the HWMO team! People from a variety of different backgrounds, interests, and ages came out to the workshops which were held in Ocean View, Waikoloa, Volcano, Pahala, Waimea, Kona, and Kealakekua. These workshops, made possible by The Cooperative Fire Program of the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Pacific Southwest Region, were a primer for future workshops and projects to come. HWMO connected with community members who were interested in starting community fuels reduction days that we could provide funding and resources for, helping forward our goal to reduce fire risk in fire-prone areas of Hawaii through a collaborative community effort. We'll keep you posted about these upcoming community events and please notify us if you are interested in starting one - we can help you make it happen!
Hawaii Conservation Conference Wildfire Forum 7/15/14
As the wildfire issue continues to grow in Hawaii, PFX has taken another step to help raise the awareness level and grow the network by holding a Wildfire Forum on July 15th at the Hawaii Conservation Conference in Waikiki. PFX invited an eclectic group of speakers to provide perspectives ranging from the science, management, and community fields. The forum was meant to embody the spirit of the Cohesive Strategy: improved wildfire response, promotion of resilient landscapes, and fire adapted communities. The forum titled: Perspectives on Hawaii's Wildfire Problem - from Science and Management to Community Action, was moderated by PFX Co-Coordinator and UH Cooperative Extension Wildfire Specialist Dr. Clay Trauernicht who started the event with new data supporting the claim that wildfires are a growing concern in all of Hawai'i. Maps and data compiled by Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) and analyzed by Dr. Trauernicht showed an increase in wildfire incidents over the past decade, incidents that occur almost entirely near roads and communities. Following Dr. Trauernicht's introduction to the topic, Wayne Ching, long-standing Fire Management Officer for Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) kicked off a series of brief presentations. Mr. Ching, representing years of first responder knowledge, gave background on DOFAW's fire management program. He explained: "We're not a full-time firefighting agency. We're like a militia…" To address the need for support, DOFAW had relied heavily on its commitment to partners to help prevent mitigate, and suppress wildfires. A reduction in budgets, though a challenge, said Mr. Ching, had opened up new opportunities, including partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to expand its programs and suppression capabilities. Adding to the suppression perspective, Chief Terry Seelig stepped up to the podium representing the Fire Prevention Bureau of the Honolulu Fire Department. Chief Seelig stressed the importance of partnership in order to strengthen fire suppression capabilities, a concern addressed by the formation of the Oahu Wildfire Information and Education Group (OWIE). OWIE was formed to share information amongst agencies and coordinate communication of such information to communities. Chief Seelig promoted the need to connect with communities by using "common nomenclature" to help communities understand wildfire issues and clarify the role and expectations of government agencies in fire emergencies. Suppression agencies, he explained, already had their hands tied due to a large amount of ignitions that were all due to human carelessness, recklessness, or a lot of times, maliciousness. Fortunately, no lives had been lost in a wildfire in Hawaii. "We fortunately haven't had that type of situation - don't wanna say lucky, because luck is something you can't count on. We try to count on planning, preparedness, and prevention."
July 4th Parker Ranch Rodeo & Horse Races 7/7/14
HWMO teamed up this past weekend with its long-time partner Parker Ranch to run the July 4th Rodeo and Horse Races Food Drive at the Parker Ranch Arena in Waimea. Visitors hauled in 4 large boxes full of canned goods for Kokua Christian Ministries, a non-profit that distributes food to those in need within the Waimea, Waikoloa, and Kohala area. In addition to the food drive, HWMO's Pablo Beimler, Tyler McCullough, Elizabeth Pickett, and Tom Loomis distributed Ready, Set, Go! Hawaii Guides and the newly created HWMO Fireworks Safety Brochures (http://www.scribd.com/doc/231506894/Fireworks-Safety-Brochure-Hawaii-County) to numerous families along with the all-too-addicting Smokey the Bear frisbees, among other goods. Community members also stopped by to jot down on colorful paper cards what they cared about most in Hawaii and why, as part of an art project HWMO is currently assembling (more details to come.) The cards also doubled as lottery tickets, offering visitors the chance to win either a free HWMO T-shirt or a free defensible space home assessment conducted by HWMO's knowledgable staff members. The exciting rodeo event was a great success even with the rain and wind that created logistical obstacles for HWMO, which the staff was craftily able to overcome.
NOAA National Weather Service Drought Presentation 6/24/14
Forecasting droughts can play a significant role in determining the severity of the next fire season. With this in mind, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, represented by Planning Assistant Ilene Grossman, attended NOAA's National Weather Service Drought Presentation at the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) building on the wet side of Waimea. A solid core of representatives from various agencies were in attendance: NOAA National Weather Service, State Commission on Water Resources Management, DHHL, UH Manoa, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Mauna Kea Soil & Water Conservation District, Civil Defense, and Hawaii Department of Agriculture (DOA). Malama Solomon, State Senator representing District 4, also attended the meeting. One of the hot topics of the meeting was the possibility of a strong El Niño this year. NOAA's predictions point to severe drought conditions and a more active hurricane season in the Central Pacific. Attendees gathered together for a round table discussion to give agency updates on how the drought would affect their resources and what they would need to respond appropriately. HWMO was honored to be a part of such a critical discussion and is looking forward to future collaborations with the attendees and their respective agencies and groups.
NOAA Interactive Mapping Project for South Kohala Meeting 6/18/14
HWMO is getting involved in an exciting new collaborative interactive mapping project. Elizabeth, Orlando, and Pablo represented HWMO in a meeting at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Waimea with members from NRCS, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Hawaii Sea Grant, and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. The eleven attendees began strategizing and providing input on a project that would sync data from a number of different agencies, groups, and organizations that work towards conserving the South Kohala region of the Big Island. NOAA would host an interactive map of South Kohala that would provide information on current projects, past research, management plans, site specifics, and other useful data that would be accessible to the public as a free information tool. The map would also increase the capacity for groups or individuals to share knowledge, increase collaborations, and fill in information and management gaps in the region. NOAA spearheaded the project as part of a combined Sentinel Site and Habitat Blueprint program in an effort to target specific regions across the U.S. showing that relevant advances in science can impact management and thus affect actual change. In Hawaii, these programs are being implemented in Midway and French Frigate Shoals in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Heʻeia Wetland Restoration project on Oʻahu, and South Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. NOAA's objectives for the program include focusing on coral reef health, reducing sedimentation, and mauka to makai connectivity; climate change; and community capacity (i.e. outreach, education, and training). HWMO is in full support of the mapping project as we find it will be an incredibly useful tool for the organization and for the managers and community members we represent.
Wildfire Preparedness Day 5/3/14
May 3rd was the first ever National Wildfire Preparedness Day! Communities from across the nation rallied to hold events to help raise wildfire awareness, promote collaboration and bring neighbors together to work on projects that protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities. HWMO organized a day of fire preparedness fun and festivities at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park in Waikoloa Village on Melia Street. HWMO partnered with Hawaii Fire Department, Waikoloa Community Association, Waikoloa Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, and Malama Kai Foundation to put on the event. As part of our prevention efforts, we created the first and only fire preparedness demonstration garden in Hawaii. The Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park demonstrates how to reduce the impacts of wildfires through defensible space, Firewise landscaping and fire resistant building materials. This garden is primarily made up of low-maintenance, native Hawaiian species that are resistant to drought, wind, and heat. The garden also exhibits Firewise principles including various landscaping techniques and maintenance guidelines for zones around the home: 10 ft., 30 ft., and 100+ ft. The event kicked off with a garden tour led by an Ocean Warriors student, followed by opening speeches from Hawaii Fire Department's Chief Darren Rosario, HWMO's Vice President Sam Patten, and HWMO's Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett. The crowd continued to grow as the opening ceremony progressed as more families arrived. To add to the excitement, Hawaii Fire Department's firefighters arrived in an ambulance and fire truck, segueing into the next activity: tours of the apparatuses. A dozen or so keiki met with firefighters to learn about the ins-and-outs of being a firefighter and the cool tools and devices they get to use. There were waves of smiles from the keiki, who were brimming from the excitement of such a unique opportunity to connect with the firefighting community. Following the firefighter meet-and-greet, the crowd gathered in the garden and began to plant the 230+ native dryland plants (including 'ihi, pohinahina, and 'ilima papa) that HWMO hauled in for the event. With the incredible help from our community members, we were able to plant each and every start in the garden - 230+ plants in under two hours of planting! After the plantings, the crowd moved under the tents for a craft event - Ocean Warriors, Future Foresters, and other keiki helpers designed and painted signs with wildfire prevention messages that will eventually be placed around the Waikoloa community. During the session, people grabbed delicious, organic Thai food, smoothies, and gelato from Lotus Cafe, who had set up a tent for the event. The event concluded with short talks by Jen Lawson of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, who explained the importance of restoring the native dry forest, and the Waikoloa CERT team, who ran through evacuation protocols and routes. On behalf of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and State Farm® Insurance, we received a $500 funding award for the event. The contest for the award was extremely competitive, spanning over 25 states - only 20 out of 84 projects were selected. This was a testament to how much progress has been made in adding Hawaii's wildfire issues to the national radar screen and how much more integrated Hawaii is in nationwide and Pacific-wide wildfire mitigation efforts. We'd like to send out a special thank you to NFPA and State Farm®, Lotus Cafe, our dedicated partners, and the enthusiastic community members who made Wildfire Preparedness Day a wonderful success! Mahalo! Another thanks to West Hawaii Today for covering the event on the front page of the Sunday paper! Read the article: http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/helping-mother-nature-fight-fires-native-plant-landscapes-and-other-fire-resistant
CNH Forest Fire Council Training & Seminar 4/9-4/11/14
The Big Island's Waikoloa Beach Marriott played host to this year's California - Nevada - Hawaii Forest Fire Council Training and Seminar (April 9-11), drawing attendees from all over the three listed states and from the Pacific Islands. HWMO and PFX teamed up to set up a booth to disseminate information about Hawaii's wildfire issues and what's being done to mitigate them - as a highlight, PFX's first Fact Sheet was rolled out at the event: Wildfire in Hawaii (link). Day One kept the audience captivated with a variety of informative and exciting talks spanning the world over. Attendees were informed about the latest Australian bushfires (Richard Woods), East Bay Regional Park District's WUI projects (Brad Gallup), Maui Fire Department's IMT3 activities (Henry Lindo, Jr.), and the International ICS program operating in Indonesia, Vietnam, and a variety of other countries (Rusty Witwer). Paul Steensland and Alan Carlson brought the attendees along an exciting two-hour long ride through a twenty-year investigation and hunt for the Rumsey Canyon Serial Arsonist. Preceding these great presentations, Wayne Ching, Division of Forestry and Wildlife's long-standing and soon-to-retire Fire Management Officer, as well as organizer of this year's event, was honored by those in attendance. DOFAW's Protection Foresters from each main island, Patrick Porter (Kauai), Jay Hatayama (Hawaii Island), Ryan Peralta (Oahu), and Lance De Silva (Maui) led a few morning toasts to Wayne and his remarkable career. To cap off the tribute, all attendees simultaneously revealed red shirts with a picture of Mr. Ching and a list of major incidents he had worked on in his career, either wearing or waving the shirt in a sort of Red Shirt Salute. Click to read more.
Earth and Ocean Festival 4/12/14
HWMO and PFX hit the road for the Earth & Ocean Festival, which took place this year at the Makaeo Pavilion within the Old Kona Airport Park. The outreach event drew large crowds of people, many of whom stopped by the HWMO/PFX booth (over 120) to find out more about wildfires in Hawaii. Visitors of all ages payed close attention as Pablo Beimler, Education and Outreach Coordinator of HWMO and Coordination Assistant of PFX, explained Hawaii's wildfire issues and what HWMO and PFX are doing to address and mitigate those issues. Beimler handed out over 50 of the new Ready, Set, Go Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guides among other HWMO products. He also distributed a couple dozen of PFX's first Fact Sheets about Wildfire in Hawaii, authored by Clay Trauernicht (Co-coordinator of PFX and Wildfire Extension Specialist at UH Manoa, CTAHR). The keiki came to the booth in droves until there weren't any more Smokey magnets, frisbees, and bag clips to give out.
Makakilo Fire Fight to Exceed $54,000, Family to Take Fire Safety Class 8/25/14
The Makakilo fire is a stark reminder of just how easy a fire can start and carry in Hawaii. 2 young 7-year-old boys and a lighter is all it takes to cause a $54,000 suppression effort (not counting the post-fire structural and natural resource damages.) Practice fire safety with your kids using these parental guides: From the Source: "'We want parents to realize that this could happen to anyone and how important it is to discuss fire safety with their children. We will participate in a fire safety program with them. Sorry,' he said on Saturday.The family will now go through a fire safety class with the fire department to discuss the dangers of playing with fire. 'The difference is delivery. It’s going to be a one-on-one education and anything else that we see is necessary in teaching them, we’ll work with them,' Capt. Jenkins said. Children get fire safety lessons from a firefighters safety guide in school during Fire Prevention Week."
Firefighters Making Progress in Makakilo Brush Fire Battle 8/25/14
A big mahalo to all of the firefighters who have, yet again, saved countless homes and lives. Remember, the fire is not out until it is completely out - conditions can change in an instant. Practice situational awareness by paying attention to your immediate AND distant surroundings. Keep a close watch and ear to your local TV and radio stations for updates. Learn more about what to do when a fire is in your area. From the Source: "Honolulu firefighters are making progress in fighting a brush fire that has charred more than 1,000 acres on the windward side of the Waianae mountains. Capt. David Jenkins, a Fire Department spokesman, said an aerial assessment was to be conducted Monday morning and firefighters and Department of Land and Natural Resources personnel are concentrating firefighting efforts on the upper slope of the Waianae mountains, to keep it from reaching a nature preserve. Winds in the area have died down, helping firefighters begin to contain the blaze in the upper slopes, Jenkins said. The massive brush fire is threatening 90 rare and endangered plant and animal species in the Honouliuli Forest Reserve, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The endangered Oahu elepaio bird and endangered "singing" kahuli tree snail also live there." - Honolulu Star Advertiser
Crews Continue to Battle Makakilo Brush Fire 8/25/14
Attention Makakilo residents, If you have to evacuate your residence, make sure you follow protocol from your local agencies (i.e. Civil Defense and Honolulu Fire Department). Stay tuned to the radio, news, internet and other media sources. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Fires can rapidly change course and be a threat even if they seem like they are far away or diminishing. Best to be safe and leave as early as possible. Stay safe! Civil Defense: (808) 733-4300 Honolulu Fire Department: (808) 723-7139o From the Source: "The brush fire that scorched nearly 1,000 acres in Makakilo continues to burn, Honolulu Fire Department officials said, and it is heading north and away from residences. Officials lifted the evacuation for Palehua residents at around 12:30 p.m. Sunday. 'We would like to commend everybody, especially the other agencies...DLNR, DOFA, Federal Fire Department, even HPD with their contribution of their helicopter. Everybody contributed to the successes so far of this incident,' said Capt. David Jenkins with the Honolulu Fire Department. According to HFD, two young boys playing with lighters caused the large brush fire in Makakilo. Officials say the two 7-year-old boys are brothers. 'We are here to say we regret what has happened. Our children realize the consequences of their actions. We want parents to realize this can happen to anyone and how important it is discuss fire safety with their children. We will be participating in a fire safety program," said Troy Wright, the boys' father.'" - Hawaii News Now
Fire Engulfs Home in Nanawale Estates 8/21/14
Downed trees in post-Iselle Puna are still a major hazard, not only in terms of wildfire but also in terms of hampering access for all other emergencies. First responders are finding it difficult to respond to emergencies, including this fire in Nanawale that burnt down a house. "Crews had to cut down trees in order to get to the burning home," costing the crews precious minutes/seconds. Your kokua is still needed, including helping clear downed vegetation in these neighborhoods. Mahalo for your kokua! From the Source: "A fire has gutted a home in Nanawale Estates in the storm ravaged area of Puna on the Big Island. Fire officials say they received a call around 6 p.m., at the intersection of Flower and Forest street. Witnesses say crews had to cut down trees in order to get to the burning home, but it eventually burned to the ground. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and it is unknown if there were any injuries. The Red Cross is currently assisting the people who lived there."
Honoring Our Heroes 8/19/14
Thanksgiving is coming early again this year, with the upcoming Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation Awards Dinner and Silent Auction on August 30th at the Fairmont Orchid. We are so grateful to call Frank Sayre a member of our Board of Directors and we say mahalo to all the firefighters, rescue specialists and lifeguards who risk their lives on a continual basis to save other people's lives. Hear some of the incredible stories in this article, which are a teaser to the talk story event at the end of the month. From the Source: "The Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation was named after Laura Mallery-Sayre and Frank Sayre’s son 17 years ago. They told the Rotary members how in 1997, a day or two before their son, Dan, was leaving for college, he decided to go for a hike to one of his favorite spots in Pololu Valley near Kapaloa Falls. He fell from the side of the cliff, and it took a day and a half until he was located. He was so far into the valley that the rescue turned into a 10-hour operation. As the rescue team was called off for the day, David Okita, helicopter pilot, came to help. The firefighters all volunteered to stay, and two were lowered in to the valley to reach the 25-year-old in a dangerous rescue in the dense forest – with the helicopter blades shredding trees during the attempt. When rescue workers finally reached Dan, the Sayres were told that their son hadn’t survived. Mallery-Sayre said that watching the men in action and seeing their compassion and commitment firsthand in the couple’s greatest hour of need, spurred the Sayres to find a way to thank the rescuers. They found there was no formal way for them to recognize the men who had risked their lives. The Sayres also learned that better equipment could have made their son’s rescue much safer and easier for the firefighters." "'We started the foundation in 1997 with a dual purpose – to honor the men and women that went above and beyond the call of duty and to raise money to protect and save us and to protect and save themselves,' Frank Sayre told the group. 'How do you ever thank someone enough for risking their life … or volunteering to stay?' Mallery-Sayre said. 'That is one of the things that keeps me fired up every year. If we can save one life, then our efforts are all worthwhile.'"
Second Brushfire Sparks in West Oahu Near Kunia 8/14/14
Size doesn't matter - any wildfire can halt highway traffic for any given time. From the Source: "Firefighters battled two brushfires in West Oahu Thursday afternoon.The first sparked at around 12:25 p.m. in Makakilo. Officials say the blaze was about a half-acre in size and contained in less than 30 minutes. While no structures were threatened, Honolulu police shut down two right west-bound lanes of the Makakilo Drive off-ramp from the H-1 Freeway for a short period. Then at 1:35 p.m., another brushfire was reported, this time in Kunia. Officials say it was also a half-acre in size and contained in about 30 minutes. Flames and smoke came close to roads, however no road or lane closures were issued. Officials say no structures were threatened and no property was damaged."
IAFC Honors Kaua'i Fire Department for Overnight Rescue of 121 Hikers 8/13/14
Congratulations to Kaua'i Fire for receiving one of the highest honors firefighters can receive. Well deserved after an incredible, unprecedented rescue effort. Mahalo for your continual courage and selflessness. From the Source: "The daring two-day rescue of 121 hikers stranded by a sudden flash flood along the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali Coast of Kaua'i, Hawaii, ranks as one of the largest trail rescues in island history. Facing torrential rain, gusting winds and rising waters, Rescue 3 of the Kaua'i Fire Department repeatedly put their own lives at risk to return all 121 survivors to safety. The heroic actions of Rescue 3 are being lauded with the 2014 presentation of the International Association of Fire Chiefs' (IAFC) and Motorola Solutions' prestigious Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor. For 45 years, the award has recognized first responders around the world for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions and safe practices. Medals will be given to Captain Gordon Tamura, Rescue Specialists Aaron Hawthorne and Adam Hussey, Rescue Operator Bryan Doo and pilot Clifton Cates at the general session of Fire-Rescue International on August 14 in Dallas."' "As one survivor has said, praising their selfless acts of courage, 'I will never look at another firefighter the same way. I now intimately know the risks they take and the sacrifices they make to ensure the safety of others. That day, it was evident to all 121 of us, we were in excellent hands.'" - IAFC
Aerial Assessment Reveals Extensive Damage in Puna (VIDEO) 8/11/14
New aerial footage shows extent of damage in Puna - "big tall trees down in every direction." Massive trees on the ground not only pose a hazard currently but down the road, as well. A sudden extreme build-up of fuels on the ground poses a huge wildfire risk, especially once El Niño's extended drought season hits. Pay attention to your surroundings...is your area now a high risk area? Take action with your neighbors to clear dead and down trees before it becomes a major problem in the future. It will take a community effort to get through this, but continue to stay resilient and strong. From the Source: "A Hilo Army National Guard crew took Hawai'i County officials on a damage assessment flight Saturday afternoon and the destruction in lower Puna is extensive. 'It's a lot worse than we expected,' said John Medeiros, the Deputy Director of Environmental Management. 'Our priority is to open those arteries so we can get down to those areas where people are trapped,' Medeiros said, referring to the dozens of toppled albizia trees that are blocking roadways. The area is surrounded with the invasive tree, which Medeiros says grows tall rapidly and is very brittle. 'It's just like toothpicks breaking when it dries out. That's a devastating tree we have all over this area, that's why we had such a problem.' Officials say Nanawale and Leilani Estate neighborhoods, along with coastal community Kapoho, appear to be the hardest hit and are their top priorities. Access and communication are the two biggest obstacles right now."
Burn, Baby, Burn - if We Say So 7/4/14
From the Source: "What strategy might evolve for the Western wildlands? The old fire exclusion paradigm had clarity—a bogus simplicity, but one easily communicated and measured. What has emerged to replace it can seem muddled and tricky to explain. The reality is that fire suppression remains dominant nationally, though it has acquired a lighter hand in the backcountry and a heavier one near exurbs. The other reality is that every wildland fire put out is a fire put off. Fire agencies now face a phalanx of changes that are powering conflagrations—not only the legacy of stockpiled fuels but also climate change, invasive species, a fractal exurban sprawl, and political gridlock. With no single cause, there is no single solution. Fire officers look instead for pragmatic responses, adapted to particular circumstances." "Critics dismiss the outcome as a muddle, but others put a positive spin on it, arguing that it’s more of a mashup. They point out that the country does not have a fire problem: It has many fire problems, all of which require different approaches. In the public lands of the West, the options are few. Fire officers will have to manage their lands with the fires they get, not the ones they would like. In many wildlands they will work with fires that start from any source and “box” them in according to natural or built features that allow easier control. They will then burn out from those perimeters and fire out the interiors. This approach, officially known as “confine and contain,” unofficially as “box and burn,” is likely to become the primary strategy for managing fires in the West. This video demonstrates how a hybrid approach, including “box and burn,” was applied to the recent Slide fire outside Sedona, Arizona." "So expect plenty of fires this season. Expect burns that make 1977’s 178,000-acre Marble Cone fire seem unexceptional. Expect critics to harp on wishy-washy policies and a lack of airtankers. Hope that we don’t see communities blown away or crews burned over. Then get used to it. It’s what the future of fire in the West will look like." - Slate
Fighting Wildfire With Satellites, Lasers and Drones 7/9/14
How technology is improving the ability to spot out wildfires - the challenge: getting that "information into the hands of the firefighters." From the Source: "Fire lookout technology has changed a lot since Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels. The book was taken almost entirely from a diary Kerouac kept when he was fire lookout for 63 days on Desolation Peak in Washington. Now, satellite images, fuel analysis, and, soon, the use of drones, are among the high-tech methods for protecting wilderness and civilization from wildfires. Some of the more important real-time fire data comes from MODIS, a sensor on two NASA satellites that view the entire Earth’s surface every one to two days. The sensors show heat sources (that’s how a fire was first spotted in Noatak, Alaska by a fire manager looking at the data in the early 2000s). It was the first time a fire had been detected by satellite before humans noticed it, says Sean Triplett, the group leader for geo-spatial and information management at the U.S. Forest Service. 'Alaska is huge,' Triplett says. 'It’s a long flight from one side of the state to the other. MODIS was really able to allow us to cover the whole state really quickly, since it sees a larger area.' After a fire, the U.S. Geological Survey’s LANDSAT satellite can be used to determine the severity of the burn by comparing a pre-fire photo of an area to a post-fire one. The differences in brightness allow scientists to determine the normalized burn ratio, as well as to reflect the changes on the ground." - The Daily Beast
A Year After Deadly Wildfire: 'Some Recovery, But...' (VIDEO) 6/29/14
Video on how a fence brought together a town after one of the worst firefighting tragedies in American history. Article digs into the long, difficult process of mourning after such an incident. From the Source: "A year ago they arrived with heads bowed, hands held. The air was silent because no one knew what to say. They parked their pickups, their SUVs, their sedans outside Mile High Middle School, and when every last space was occupied, they parked along narrow side streets and vacant lots. Lights blazed from the auditorium, a beacon to those who wanted to be anywhere else. A few hours earlier on a day that soon would appear on marquees, banners and T-shirts — June 30, 2013 — friends and loved ones of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew gathered to hear the worst news possible. Nineteen had perished at the Yarnell Hill Fire, trapped by flames that moved so quickly several of them had not even deployed their fire shelters. The grief began there, and spread through the city, to the vigil sites, to the public square where the hearses passed by, to the arena where thousands would gather to say goodbye. Nearly a year later, the scenes that contained the drama of those days largely are devoid of reminders of those early days. But the number 19 still has only one meaning in Prescott, and it reverberates as strongly today as it did then." - USA Today
Dad Of Fallen Arizona Hotshot Hopes To Make Better Fire Shelters (AUDIO) 6/30/14
Fire shelter improvements unfortunately spurred by the death of the 19 Yarnell Hill firefighters: From the Source: "Firefighter Travis Turbyfill was killed one year ago by a wildfire after he and fellow members of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots deployed to a fire shelter in an Arizona box canyon. A fierce wind blew the Yarnell Hill Fire over the crew, killing 19. Travis' father, David, doesn't want his son to have died in vain, and he's trying to help the U.S. Forest Service improve those shelters to withstand direct flames. All that remained of the Granite Mountain Hotshots' fire shelters — which are thin layers of foil and insulation designed to help protect firefighters as a fire burns over them — were twisted piles of crumbled aluminum and ash. David has been conducting tests on new shelter material, and recently presented the results in a video. In it, a large metal pipe shoots fire for 30 seconds onto the current fire shelter material layered over a firefighter's yellow fire-retardant shirt. The shirt material winds up scorched and brittle. Then he runs the same test, but for a minute longer, over a fireproof fabric Turbyfill found on the Internet. 'The firefighter's shirt is completely intact,' he says as he shows the camera the scorch-free yellow material. For anyone who's seen a wildfire, the video gets your attention. Turbyfill's metal fabricating shop is in Prescott, Ariz. There he talks statistics. In the past two decades, burn over and entrapment accounted for 25 percent of wildland firefighter deaths. In the case of the Yarnell Hill Fire, the wind pushed the blaze over the men and trapped them in a canyon. 'What I'm saying is that if you create a better fire shelter or survivable fire shelter product, that you could eliminate 20 to 25 percent of all fatalities. Eliminate. Not reduce, eliminate,' he says." - Hawaii Public Radio
Super Choppers Confront California's Weird Wildfire Season (VIDEO) 6/27/14
From the Source: "A whirling black and yellow mechanical beast swoops in to battle a deadly wildfire. For victims, it's like the cavalry coming to the rescue. They call it the Firehawk. Los Angeles County Fire Department senior pilot Tom Short talks about this helicopter like it's a super chopper. "Having been in all of the aircraft that are out there fighting fires, the Firehawk is the best firefighting machine I've ever seen -- simply because of what it does," Short told CNN on the phone this week. "It does everything: fire, rescue and air ambulance." Basically it's a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter outfitted with a giant water tank. This thing is engineered to get hellishly close to the heat of a raging inferno. Its dual souped-up engines can lift 9,000 pounds -- about the same weight as a large recreational travel trailer. In preparation to dump water over flames, the Firehawk's snorkel can suck 1,000 gallons of water into its storage tank in the span of one minute. "We really work these machines very hard. During some fires, Short said, "I've made over 100 drops in one day." A firefighting super-chopper is especially valuable now, as California braces for what may be one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. How worrisome is it? The state's firefighting agency, Cal Fire, has responded to more than 2,500 wildfires in 2014 -- a huge increase in the average number of fires at this point in the year, the agency says. In May, several fires in San Diego County forced thousands of residents from their homes and charred more than 31 square miles. The season usually doesn't ramp up until summer or fall." - CNN
San Juan Fire Explodes to 2,000 Acres in Northeast AZ (VIDEO) 6/26/14
From the Source: "Twelve structures are threatened by a fast-growing wildfire on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation west of Cerro Gordo. The San Juan Fire was reported just before 12 p.m. Thursday and within a matter of hours, the fire grew from an initial 100 acres to 2,000 acres by 5 p.m., according to officials with Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Areas on pre-evacuation notice are Whiting Homestead, Red Cabin Ranch and Greenspeak Hideaway. 'The San Juan Fire is heading northeasterly into an area where the White Mountain Stewardship Project has been thinning and that will definitely help slow down any fire activity,' Apache-Sitgreaves Nationals Forest Supervisor Jim Zornes said. Forest Service Road 117 is closed for public access. The public is advised to look for fire personnel and vehicles entering off highways U.S. 60 and Arizona State 260. According to the White Mountain Independent, between 200 to 300 Boy Scouts from Gilbert were in the White Mountains when the fire started. Matthew Wright was with the group and an additional 100 adults and chaperones who were camping in the area. A group of them split off and headed for a ridge at about 9,000 feet and noticed the smoke. They then went back to base camp and told the others it was time to go." - KPHO
World's Hottest May is Now May 2014: NOAA 6/23/14
The planet continues its warming trends - expect wildfires to ride along the upswing, as well. From the Source: "Last month was the hottest May in more than 130 years of recorded weather history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday in its monthly state of the climate report, as May 2014 surpassed the previous record high for the month set in 2010. The world's combined land and ocean temperature for May was 1.33°F above the 20th century average of 58.6°F, NOAA reported, adding that four of the five warmest Mays have occurred in the past five years. In the report, NOAA separates out temperature records for the world's land and ocean areas. On land last month, the world saw its fourth-hottest May on record with a global surface temperature 2.03°F above the 20th century average. The oceans saw their hottest May on record, with a temperature 1.06°F above the 20th century average. • The United Kingdom had its third-warmest spring on record, with temperature 2.3°F above the 20th century average • Norway saw its warmest spring since national records began in 1900, breaking its previous record set in 2002. The nation's average temperature for March to May 2014 was 4.1°F above the 1981-2010 average. • South Korea saw its warmest May on record, with a temperature 2.2°F above the 1981-2010 average." - The Weather Channel
California's Drought Getting Even Worse, Experts Say (PHOTOS) 6/19/14
From the Source: "California's drought conditions have worsened over the past week with the percentage of the state suffering from the highest category increasing, the National Weather Service said Thursday. 'Exceptional' drought conditions have spread in Central California since a week ago, weather officials said. Areas in Northern California have also moved into this category since last week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Almost 33% of the state faces exceptional conditions. About 25% of the state faced those conditions last week. Every part of California remains in what is considered severe drought. A year ago, no part of the state was in exceptional drought conditions, the weather service said. The drought has prompted water conservation efforts as well as rationing in some parts of the state. L.A. saw record dry conditions this winter, and snowfall in the Sierras has also been significantly down."- LA Times
Navajo's Assayii Lake Fire: Heartbreaking Losses, and How to Help 6/20/14
Learn how you can help those who have lost an important piece of their livelihoods: From the Source: "Firefighters are making headway against the Assayii Lake Fire, but not before it gobbled up acre upon acre of sacred land in the Chuska Mountains between Gallup and Shiprock. The Assayii fire on the Navajo Nation had been 20 percent contained by Thursday June 19, as the blaze reached 13,450 acres, and 867 personnel battled the flames, according toInciWeb. But the victory is destined to be bittersweet. Though no one has died, the toll is still great. Members of two communities had been evacuated, and at least 13 summer sheep camps had been destroyed, according to the Navajo Times. 'We’re going to be losing everything and our memories will be gone,” Elvina Yazzie told theNavajo Times on June 16 after driving her family’s flock of 28 sheep down the mountain with the help of her nephew, Nelvin Yazzie. “It just hurts because our grandparents built that hogan.' Donations are being accepted at several chapter houses, Navajo Nation Emergency Management Director Rose Whitehair told the Navajo Times. The Crystal Chapter House, Naschitti Chapter House, Shiprock Chapter House, Fort Defiance Field House (Home Base), Tohatchi High School Gymnasium and Newcomb School are looking for flour, potatoes, eggs, paperware (bowls, plates, utensils, cups) Zip-lock bags, disposable gloves, oil, salt, baking powder, dish towels, steel knives, pots, pans, napkins, coffee, Kool-Aid and ice tea mix, power bars, cold cuts, bread, soda, water, juice, pitchers for Kool-Aid, canned food and boxes for food storage, according to theNavajo Times. The American Red Cross is fielding financial donations and offering other aid. 'Officials are asking that those donating items refrain from too much sugar products and also to be aware of the expiration dates,' the Navajo Times stated." - Indian Country Today Media Network