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#1016473 - 08/09/18 04:37 AM Wildfires  
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They are having a profound impact on life in the Western US and Canada. Profound. Rapidly increasing severity and frequency, rapidly increasing acreage, and longer fire seasons are leading to greater impacts from smoke, both locally, and often hundreds of miles away. The losses of businesses and homes, disruption of life and economies, impact to travel plans, the overall stress are taking their toll.

Communities come together in the most amazing ways. Livestock are evacuated, shelters pop up.... in our case last year people went to a campground the Tolowa Di Nee Nation opened instead of the Red Cross. It was more permissive about pets, families stayed together, and they had better services. Facebook is increasingly the way people communicate and coordinate in these situations. Satellite mapping, Official information sources, smoke monitoring, weather.... terms like humidity recovery seep into your vocabulary. You learn about dealing with fire traffic and camps, displaced wildlife, and evacuating on a moments notice.


Jan

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#1016474 - 08/09/18 05:51 AM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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The WUI. That's another of the many terms we've begun to grapple with. It means the wildland urban interface, and it has expanded dramatically in recent years.

"Our recent study found that WUI grew rapidly from 1990 to 2010 in the U.S., expanding from 30.8 to 43.4 million homes (a 41% increase), covering from 581,000 to 770,000 km2 (33% growth), making it the fastest growing land use type in the conterminous U.S. New WUI area totaled 189,000 km2, an area that is larger than Washington State. This expansion of the WUI poses particular challenges for wildfire management, creating more buildings at risk to wildfire in environments where firefighting is often difficult."

Reference

Another concept is that of "Fire Adaption." The set of ideas about learning to live with wildfire: Building codes, Defensible Space, Zoning, Education and property maintenance.


Jan

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#1016501 - 08/09/18 04:49 PM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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Joe Frickin' Friday Offline
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Well, if those silly firefighters would get their act together, maybe these conflagrations wouldn't get so out of control! grin

Kidding aside, it's crazy what those guys go through - and that they can succeed at all against such a massive force of nature. It helps to have friends in high places, but even with technology like that backing them up, the work they do on the ground is still backbreaking and exhausting, not to mention dangerous.

Re: fire adaption, maybe education ought to be at the top of the list. Many years ago at one of our UnRallies I was chatting with Jamie Edmonds at a time when massive wildfires had just incinerated numerous neighborhoods on the outskirts of San Diego. He said that in the aftermath of those fires, the building codes had been modified to require that new homes be built with better fire resistance. But they implemented the new codes with a long delay - maybe 6-12 months - and that intervening period, there was a massive rush of applications for new building permits submitted by people whose homes had just burned to the ground; they were hurrying to beat the deadline so that they could rebuild their homes in compliance with the old, lax fire safety requirements instead of the newer, more strict ones.

something...something...HISTORY...something...DOOMED TO REPEAT IT. dopeslap

#1016515 - 08/09/18 08:28 PM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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That's another thing we've learned... Aerial support is in question. It may just be there because of misguided politics, media hype, and misguided public perceptions, or it may have some limited valid use... primarily to provide a degree of control on new fire starts until a ground team can get on scene... depending on terrain, weather, etc. But most use appears to be driven by a need to APPEAR to be doing everything, and small craft that can get in close are typically more effective than supertankers.

Aerial drops of water and retardant are in question because they are expensive, of questionable efficacy, potentially toxic, and very risky to personnel. These operations account for something like a third of all firefighter deaths, but only about a percent of firefighters.

In the case of "our" Chetco Bar Fire last year, the pol's were screaming because the Global Supertanker had not been certified. The USFS was saying they couldn't use it anyway in our steep and rugged terrain. We had helos and small planes and they often couldn't fly due to weather and smoke, but when they flew, they could discharge many smaller loads directly on target. These drops can, in theory, slow an advancing flame front and allow firefighters a chance to get in. In practice, in steep terrain they can actually spread a fire, as they did with the Chetco Bar Fire in it's early days.

The current technical recommendations are at odds with actual practice. The tech people want small direct scoop water carrying craft on initial fire breakouts in relatively flat terrain. Actual practice is much broader, and it is estimated that about 50% of their use is wasted/misdirected resource.

That said, another form of aerial support, night time infrared flyover mapping, is invaluable for showing actual heat with high resolution.

Last edited by Twisties; 08/09/18 09:20 PM.

Jan

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#1016516 - 08/09/18 08:32 PM Re: Wildfires [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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There is huge resistance in the Libertarian rural west to any building codes or enforcement, Mitch. Education and voluntary measures are key. Community involvement is probably the most effective approach.


Jan

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#1016517 - 08/09/18 08:44 PM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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Jan, I'm keeping a close watch on the area since my son is only about 50 miles from you. Had dinner in your town a few weeks ago but assume you guys were at the UN that weekend.


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#1016519 - 08/09/18 09:17 PM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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Yeah, we were at the UN. Next time, my friend.


Jan

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#1016554 - 08/10/18 04:00 AM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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Originally Posted by Twisties
The USFS was saying they couldn't use it anyway in our steep and rugged terrain. We had helos and small planes and they often couldn't fly due to weather and smoke, but when they flew, they could discharge many smaller loads directly on target. These drops can, in theory, slow an advancing flame front and allow firefighters a chance to get in. In practice, in steep terrain they can actually spread a fire, as they did with the Chetco Bar Fire in it's early days.

The current technical recommendations are at odds with actual practice. The tech people want small direct scoop water carrying craft on initial fire breakouts in relatively flat terrain. Actual practice is much broader, and it is estimated that about 50% of their use is wasted/misdirected resource.


That surprises me. I was watching live coverage of a fire here today, the Rangeland fire, which was in very steep terrain, and they were saying the aircraft were necessary because the terrain meant ground-based firefighters couldn't access it. The planes were laying blocking lines of retardant along the ridge tops ahead of the flame front, while the helicopters were dropping water on the fire itself. It all seemed pretty effective. They kept it down to 250 acres, currently 60% contained. It probably helped that it was only 3.5 miles as the plane flies from the CalFire base at Ramona Airport, so the planes could refill with retardant and come back quickly. But it's true they didn't use any supertankers. There were CalFire S2s, which are pretty small, and one Erickson MD87, which is certainly getting up there in size, since it's a converted small airliner.


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#1016595 - 08/10/18 03:55 PM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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Bill, that sounds like a small fire and initial attack, which is the appropriate use. They can not put out a fire with air attack. They have to get ground crews in eventually, or build an indirect line where they can.


Jan

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#1016645 - 08/11/18 02:51 AM Re: Wildfires [Re: Twisties]  
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Jan

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