I’ve noticed many comments lately on various threads indicating alarm at the amount and size of early fires, and their connection to climate change.

Our son was a wildland firefighter for the past five seasons, and often he and his crew would be incommunicado for the duration of a fire, often from two or three weeks.  Many times all we would know was where they were heading; we’d get a call from our son once his Roosevelt Hotshots buggies had rolled, giving the general location of the fire, possibly the size and weather and terrain conditions that had turned it into a Type I, top priority fire.

In order that we might follow the fire, we might check with the websites below for information.  When the sites hadn’t updated the fires into their data, sometimes the only other way to find information was to Google for local papers in the general area, but at least we might get the name of the fire and some information, then keep checking back with these federal sites for more and hopefully, better information.

Those of you who are interested might want to bookmark the websites; they’re chock full of information.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) is a snapshot of the nation, lists fires state by state, is not terribly detailed, and is only updated Monday through Friday.  But if you see a fire about which you want details, you can boot up INCIWEB, the Incident Information System.  Most of the large fires have their own websites (click on the fire’s official name) which have top maps and so many categories of details I won’t name them.  There is also a tab at the bottom with a link to ‘Terminology’ describing fuel load, fire behaviors, fire levels and types, so much information.

As irony would have it, a neighbor just called and said look out the window to the south end of the canyon.  In just the time I typed these paragraphs, what seems to be a pretty large fire has blown up, and it is billowing black smoke as well as white and peach.  I asked him if he might drive down the cabyon to see what’s up, as I can’t do cars very easily any longer.  He refused.  Bah; he’d watch it, if it got close, get out of his house, yada yada.  I just called Mr.wendydavis and asked him if he’d drive down to see; comically, there is no agency locally to call for information.  Tying up the sheriff’s dispatch lines would be criminal.

Anyway, more later; I’m gonna post this, and go do something sane.

Oh, the following is an example from INCIWEB on the Whitewater-Baldy Complex”

Most of the larger fires have their own websites with further information and updates, like this one in New Mexico, the Whitewater-Baldy Complex:

“The Phoenix area National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) under Incident Commander Bob Houseman

Photos and maps can be viewed and downloaded on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/gilaforest

Videos can be viewed on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/imt1southwest

Follow incident information from Gila National Forest updates at www.twitter.com/gilaforestPAO (@GilaForestPAO)

Community Update June 19, 2012

Yesterday, the fire grew 254 acres. The fire slowly approached the bottom of Turkey Creek drainage on the south end of the fire. As per the plan to keep the fire north of the Gila River, smoke jumpers hiked into the area to safely engage the fire where feasible.

Approximately 160 people attended the public meeting in Glenwood last night.

Aircraft will continue to patrol the fire area today. Firefighters will be holding the fire north of the Gila River and west of the old Miller fire burn area.

The management of the fire will return to the Gila Forest today at 6 p.m. For future updates, check Inciweb or call the Gila National Forest at 575-388-8201.

Through the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, the Forest Service is working with other federal agencies and local, state, and tribal governments to plan, prevent, and safely respond to wildland fires across all lands and jurisdictions.

For additional information regarding the post fire-flood assessment go to the Whitewater-Baldy Complex BAER page at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2900/.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: If you are planning to visit the Forest, Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in effect. Additional closures are still are in effect in several areas; please go to the Gila National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/gila for current information or contact the Forest directly at 575-388-8201.

 

Basic Information

Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Lightning
Date of Origin Wednesday May 16th, 2012 approx. 10:25 AM
Location East of Glenwood, New Mexico
Incident Commander Houseman

Current Situation

Total Personnel 84
Size 296,980 acres
Percent Contained 87%
Fuels Involved 10 Timber (litter and understory) Mixed Conifer, Ponderosa Pine, Pinyon/Juniper and Grass fuels are within the fire perimeter along with heavy concentrations of down and dead fuels.
Fire Behavior Backing fire in the area around the confluence of Turkey Creek and the Gila River. Isolated interior islands of unburned fuels continue to burn out.
Significant Events A transfer of command from NIMO back to the local unit will occur today, Tuesday June 19th at 1800.

Outlook

Planned Actions Continue to check fire spread on the south side of the fire, to prevent the fire from crossing the Gila River or impacting the private property inholdings along the river bottom. Coordinate activities with the BAER team.
Growth Potential High
Terrain Difficulty Extreme

Current Weather

Temperature 93 degrees
Humidity 4%

I’m sure we’ll be fine, I didn’t mean to alarm you.  Luckily, there are lots of irrigated fields between us and the fire.  So unless it torches a lot, we’ll do fine.  But I’d feel a hell of a lot better if there were air tankers on it.  The thing I was going to gripe about earlier, was how over-stretched the agencies already are, which might have contributed to the Larimer County fire blowing up to that insane size.  Had they been able to hit it hard and early…it would likely have been a whole ‘nother story.

Mr.wendydavis just got in, and said it’s a forest fire on Meneffee mountain (our side of the canyon), but he couldn’t discover if the BLM and Forest Circus teams had arrived yet.  A friend from up north at a higher elevation just called and said it’s already hit the top of the mountain, and the winds are from the west and south.

He’s called a few neighbors farther south to see if he might be able to help them get the hell out, but can’t reach anyone.