Aug 172007

Previous or Next Landmark/Cascade Complex Entry

Who would’ve thunk I’d be too busy to do this blog thing as often as I’d like? Kind of a bummer.

I completed a trip to my camp 2 days ago, taking a two and a half to three hour drive through hell (click the image to the right for a map – it’s ~55miles). You’ll notice from the map, that we drove through a large portion of the fire perimeter. The fire was not active on the flanks around the road the days I drove it…but I did manage to see a tiny little fire next to the road on the drive in. The scariest parts were the lack of visibility due to smoke and dust from the dirt roads…and the proximity of the road to a big drop off in portions. My hands were exhausted by the end of the trip, I was clinging to the wheel so hard most of the way. I’ve included a little bit of video from my drive back – which I had to do again THE NEXT DAY, when we evacuated our camp. I wasn’t able to film the scarier portions (wish I could’ve), as I was busy driving. They evacuated all of us folks that aren’t trained to be on the fire line. …but that left ~400 folks there.

They are evacuating the remaining 400 or so, tomorrow. I’m forecasting very strong winds, low relative humidity, and moderate probability that fires will become plume-driven (really tall…and creating their own wind)…and have issued a Red Flag Warning as a result. The North Fork Fire is heading right towards the camp where the 400 remain. The map above shows where the fire perimeters were a few days ago. The one labeled “North Fork Fire” is the one that has the best chance of hitting the old camp (marked “Cox Rance ICP” on the map). …it’s a whole lot closer now, than when that map was created. Say a little prayer that all is okay for them tomorrow.
I took the photo to the left, of a big plume of smoke going up just east of camp, over the Riordan fire, which is part of the Landmark Complex. This is an example of a plume-driven fire. These can create very strong winds at the surface towards the column. These types of columns (but larger) in these kinds of fuels (the stuff it’s burning) have been known create updrafts capable of yanking large trees from the ground – and toss them into the air.

To the right, there’s a visible satellite image of smoke from the fires in my area. I’m just to the west of that north-south running line of smoke. If you click on the image, there’s an arrow pointing to the source of the smoke. It’s all then drifting to the NE…away from us. Good thing…from just one night at the other camp…where the smoke reduces visibility to <1/2 mile, my stuff smells like it caught on fire, and I peed it out.

Aug 142007

Previous or Next Landmark/Cascade Complex Entry

I’m still technically traveling to my camp at the Landmark Complex. Roads are so rough, that everyone in and out is required to be escorted. The soonest convoy into camp leaves at 1400 my time…or in about an hour and fifteen minutes.

The fire just south of mine (they’re expected to burn together before too long), had some big problems last night. They waited too long to evacuate camp, and had to do what is called “sheltering in place”. That basically means that all of the folks at camp crowd towards the center of camp, where the least fire fuel is…in hopes of not being hurt. No one was…but the fire got so close, that the paint bubbled on some of the cars. The IMET there got embers in her shirt. Little scary. The Fire Behavior Analyst here has told me, that based on their models, there is about a 60-70% chance of the Landmark camp being burned in the next 14 days. Hopefully it waits until the 14th day. We’ll leave before that happens…not to worry.

The Governor of Idaho came to visit our camp today. The photo here, is of the IMET (Chuck) at this camp (not the one I’m going to this afternoon) briefing the gov on the weather. I told Chuck, it’s not too many times in your life, that someone peaks their head into your office and says, “the Governor needs you”. Pretty cool. In the photo, the Governor is on the left, and Chuck’s on the far right. The guy in the middle is the Incident Commander (IC).

Aug 122007

Previous or Next Landmark/Cascade Complex Entry

Also…check out my Tripod Complex and Winecup Complex entries.

It’s that time again already. …this time on my own – since I’m a certified IMET. Little scary. This one is called the Landmark complex and is sort of close to Cascade, ID. As always, you can read about it in the National Interagency Coordination Center Incident Management Situation Report

This location is a dooooozy too. Nighttime temps have been ranging from 27 to 41 degrees F. Cold. Taking extra sweatshirts. I fly into Boise, ID…and then have about a 4.5 hour drive ahead of me…if I’m lucky. In my instructions to get to the camp, I was told to – at about an hour and a half out of camp:


I guess, the fire might burn over the road to the Landmark camp, before I can get there. If that turns out to be the case – that’ll turn my 4.5 hour drive, into a 7.5 hour drive. Here’s hoping. Most of the roads I’ll be taking, for the last 2 hours or so are logging roads. So, they’re primarily dirt, and very very rough. That’s really why they let us rent SUV’s.

Right now, the fire is 47,157 acres big, and is only 30% contained. There are 645 people working on the fire. Some implements on the fire include 39 engines and 4 helicopters.