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The Western Wildfires

While on the Gulf Coast we had an official site reporting over 21 inches of rain in West Pensacola yesterday, they have been getting dry lightning in New Mexico and Colorado which is setting off fires in the bone dry timber and brush.

CBS has an overview of two of the biggest new fires – the Little Bear Fire in central New Mexico and the High Park Fire in northern Colorado.

From the Federal Incident site:

Little Bear Fire

Start Time/Date Monday, June 4, 2012
Location: Smokey Bear Ranger District, Lincoln NF, including White Mountain Wilderness
Cause: Lightning
Fuels: Mixed conifer, ponderosa pine
Size: approx. 26,000 acres (change due to more accurate mapping, not fire growth)
Containment: 0 %

Resources Committed: Personnel 144, crews: 2 Type 1, 1 Type 2; 20 engines; helicopters: 6 Type 1, 2 Type 2, 2 Type 3; 2 dozers

Today’s Weather: 82 degrees, relative humidity 6%, winds west 20 mph

Structures/threats: 36 (an accurate damage assessment has not been made yet)

Summary: The Southwest Area Type 1 Incident Management Team, commanded by Joe Reinarz, assumed management of this fire from the Pecos Zone Type 3 Interagency Management Team at 6 a.m. today. We cannot overemphasize the fact that the strategy for this fire is, and has been since the start, full suppression. A primary objective is to keep fire north of State Highways 220 and 532, and south of State Highway 380.

Today crews will hold improve containment lines along Crest Trail on the northwest side of the fire. Dozer lines constructed yesterday on the northeast and southeast flanks held overnight, and firefighters will construct additional containment lines and burn out fuels as necessary. Similar activity is occurring on the south and north sides of the fire.

An unusual firefighting tactic is being used on the southwest corner of the. Snow making machines at Ski Apache Resort are being utilized to wet down fuels, slowing the spread of the fire.

High Park Fire

Basic Information:
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation, Suspected Lightning
Date of Origin Saturday June 09th, 2012 approx. 05:54 AM
Location appx. 15 miles west of Fort Collins
Incident Commander Will Briggs

Current Situation:
Total Personnel 250
Size 20,000 acres
Fire Behavior Active fire, wind driven

Eight 20-person crews and other firefighters on scene Sunday. Air resources on scene include: 5 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT); 2 Type 1 Helitankers; 2 Type 3 Helicopters; 3 Heavy Air Tankers; Air Attack; and Lead Plane. Approximately 15 engines are on scene. A Type 1 Management Team has been ordered and are expected to take over management Monday morning. Additional ground, air, and engines have been ordered.

In its ‘wisdom’ Congress keeps cutting the firefighting budget over the objections of everyone who has been paying attention to the situation. Structures have been lost in both fires, and given the lack of roads, it is probable that lives will have been lost in the explosive spreading of these fires. Instead of F-22s that are asphyxiating their pilots or F-35s that don’t seem to be close to ready, the aircraft type that the US needs in the defense of the actual nation are those designed to drop water and fire suppressants, not bombs.

6 comments

1 cookie jill { 06.11.12 at 6:51 pm }

Romney says we don’t need any more firefighters. Ha…yeah, right.
We here in SB are holding our breaths and crossing our fingers.

2 Bryan { 06.11.12 at 7:43 pm }

He has a house in La Jolla. La Jolla is a terminal point, i.e. there is only a single transmission line going in, and if it goes out, they are dark until it is repaired – you can’t route around it. That line runs through the hills where a wildfire is always a possibility. If there is a fire that takes out that line, he might change his mind about the need for firefighters, especially if he is trapped between floors in his ‘car elevator’.

You don’t need firefighters … until there is a fire, and then you need a lot of them. The Colorado fire almost doubled in size overnight and they don’t have enough people to control it. Their air resources have been grounded by the winds, so they need people on the ground to build fire breaks, and those people aren’t available because of the number of fires that have flared up.

Nature couldn’t care less about political ideology.

3 Steve Bates { 06.12.12 at 5:26 pm }

“Nature couldn’t care less about political ideology.”

Or viruses about national borders… but the terminally stupid continue to advocate laws assuming that GOPers’ houses don’t burn and GOPers’ household workers don’t carry diseases. As with the old saying “cancer cures smoking,” it is equally true that ideologically-driven ignorance of climate change and/or disease is often self-limiting.

4 Bryan { 06.12.12 at 8:02 pm }

What really pisses me off is how quick elected Republicans are to call for Federal assistance when there’s a problem, but spend all of their time talking about how terrible ‘big government’ is. Colorado’s Republican Congresscritters are asking for more assistance for the fire in their state, having already voted to cut funding for Federal firefighting.

There isn’t a local official in my area who wasn’t much happier with the response of FEMA under Clinton, compared to what happened to the agency under the Shrubbery.

They’ll complain like hell over the lack of Federal response caused by their cutting of the budgets for the agencies that are trying to respond.

5 cookie jill { 06.13.12 at 4:26 am }

I wish that the spineless Democrats would call out those Republicans preaching abstinence from Government on one hand while ho’ing out for as much Fed aid as possible during a disaster to make them look good.

I wish the corporate media would actually report the hypocracy.

6 Bryan { 06.13.12 at 10:42 pm }

That wouldn’t be ‘civil’, Jill, and the Democratic leadership puts great store in being civil. They don’t point out which states are subsidized by the Federal government, or which states are paying for the government services.

If we went to a dollar of Federal services for a dollar of Federal taxes paid, the red states would find themselves in very deep yogurt. The noisiest are biggest pigs at the Federal trough.