Aug 272007

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This should be my last blog on this fire. I just wanted to post some aerial photos of camp. Tomorrow morning is my last briefing. I then start the DEMOB process…and should be outta camp by 10am.

Pretty much speaks for itself.

That’s me (obviously), Gale (the FBAN), and my replacement – Jack, going to eat.

Also…here’s my departing forecast discussion…

Warmer and drier today as upper level ridging begins to build back over the area. Warming and drying trend continues into Wednesday…with the highest temperatures seen in the area since the 16th of August, and relative humidity in the single digits in some valley locations. Mid-to-upper level moisture will begin to push into the area from the south on Wednesday… with the potential of producing very isolated afternoon and evening dry thunderstorms…

…(outlook for Thursday through Saturday) Continued warm and dry with mainly southwest flow through Saturday as the area sits under upper level ridging. Strong, gusty afternoon southwest winds will make a return for Friday and Saturday. Mid-to-upper level moisture will keep the threat for isolated…mainly dry…afternoon and evening thunderstorms Thursday and Friday.

Aug 272007

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I’m still laughing. Check out this photo of me doing my weather briefing this morning…

I was telling them about how temperature and humidity would be similar today, to what was seen yesterday…and lighter wind. Guess got a little too excited. I think I get a little uglier, every fire I’m out on.

And, an only slightly more normal one…

Aug 262007

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I took a trip out to the fire line with the FBAN, Gale. With 3 fire dispatches under my belt, and not a flame seen…she was determined to show me something. We didn’t see anything too terribly crazy fire-wise. …but we saw some good stuff. Stuff I’d never seen before. I’m easily entertained right now. Two weeks of camping will do that to ya’.

I’d never seen salmon spawn…and it happens to be spawning season. So, on our way to portions of the southern reaches of the complex…we couldn’t help but to stop by and take a look. This is one of the streams we stopped by. Notice the deadish trees. This area was burned (note the black ground in places)…but not so hot that the trees were all destroyed.


Idaho is pretty. Who knew? Allot of dead/half burned trees everywhere…as we were in “the black” (burned area of the complex) for a majority of the trip today.

Some group torching (small stand of trees burning) near Warm Lake. This is in the video below.

Me, standing next to some puny fire trying to act awesome. It didn’t work out…and I look a smidgen cross-eyed. …not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I’m not sure of the date (it was while I was here)…but this was a trash truck who’s brakes went out on a VERY steep curvy hill on the way back from one of our spike camps (where firefighters stay, away from the main camp – ICP, in order to be a little closer to where they need to be). The two passengers in this truck apparently sheltered in this general area for 9 hours…while their truck was burned over. The road had closed behind them…due to fire. Eeek.

A view of some of the southern portions of the Cascade Complex from the afore-mentioned “VERY steep curvy hill”. Looks like an atom bomb’s been dropped, doesn’t it?

A structure in Landmark, ID wrapped in the same material they make our fire shelters out of – to help protect against fire.

Aug 252007

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I’ve never made it to blog #10 before on a fire. Hmph. …and I haven’t really had allot to say.

Well, today – now that we’ve had 4 days between us and about a half of an inch of widespread rain, fire activity is starting to pick up again. Visible satellite from ~545 pm Mountain Time:

Instability has been low, so the smoke columns haven’t been very impressive as of late – but you can still see allot of smoke pumping out of our fires.

Tomorrow – pending what I think of the weather in the morning, I should be able to head out with the Fire Behavior Analyst to check out the fire activity on the line. I’ve said it before, but I think tomorrow could be the day I get a few cool photos. Again, it will depend on the weather. If it looks like I need to hang out here and watch observations, I will.

We had a windy and dry day out there today – just barely Red Flag (3 or more hours of wind gusts >24mph along with relative humidity <16%). Tomorrow should be…wait, here’s tomorrow’s forecast discussion (sneak preview – edited for display here):

Strong westerly flow aloft beneath an upper level trough will translate to the surface again today, meaning another day of strong winds for the complex. These winds will accompany slightly higher minimum relative humidity thanks to moisture behind a cold front that will push across the area around mid-day. Although only slightly higher – the relative humidity should remain above warning criteria. Our upper level trough begins to push eastward for Monday, decreasing winds across the area as warmer and drier conditions begin to set in.

While our fires here in ID have been relatively tame as of the last few days, Greece has not been so lucky…

Greece declared a nationwide state of emergency on Saturday, as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis pointed to arson as the cause of an unprecedented wave of wildfires that have ravaged the country, particularly the southern region of Peloponnese.

Fire authorities put the death toll at 47, but a senior Health Ministry official said a total of 49 bodies had been recovered.

Satellite imagery from the area…

Aug 232007

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I’m not what you’d call, a “big spider fan”. At the briefing this morning, the safety officer highlighted the threat of some of the local fauna…including the hobo spider. 4 or 5 folks on this complex have already been bitten. Although the people that were bitten, were people working out on the fire-line, I can’t help but look closer at the toilet seat today. Not familiar with the hobo spider? Here are some facts from

To the right is a picture of a Hobo Spider bite. About 50% of Hobo Spider bites are ‘dry,’ meaning that no venom is injected and nothing happens to the victim. In fact, often times the victim does not even realize that he has been bit. Typically, when venom is injected, the victim will experience an immediate redness which develops around the bite then begins to disappear within a few hours. Very often, for the first 24 hours, the bite appears to be no worse than that of a mosquito; then it begins to blister in the center. Within 24 to 36 hours the blister breaks open, leaving an open, oozing ulceration.

This ulceration ‘scabs’ over within three weeks from the initial bite, leaving a permanent scar. If the bite is delivered in fatty tissue, the lesion may be very deep and extensive, not healing for over two or three years. Systematic reactions to Hobo Spider poisoning include severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, soreness and flu-like symptoms. In extreme cases where the bite was not taken care of early, skin graft, amputation, and the possibility of bone marrow failure may occur.

Aug 222007

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Pretty easy-going forecast today. Busy busy busy overall though. Since the new team took over, the number of meetings has tripled – thanks in part to a night shift that wasn’t active before.

This is what is called a “bagel” in our camp lunch sack:

Here’s an unflattering photo of me after not shaving for a week – and an equally unflattering photo after shaving.

I pieced together a panorama of the camp area…more for my benefit. …but here it is:

And finally, a view of my cozy little bedroom…

Rumors of rain have been floating through the camp?mainly related to the trough over the weekend. I squashed them for many in out plans meeting today?but I?ll continue the crusade at tomorrow?s ?big briefing? in the circus tent. I haven?t found out what to attribute the rumor to ? but I suspect it might be a bit my fault with all of my ?trough? talk for the weekend ? and the wind it?ll bring. Despite putting no chance of rain in the forecast and mostly clear skies over the weekend, allot of people associate the word ?trough?with rain. I should?ve been – and now will be – more explicit.

Aug 202007

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Amendment – 8/21/2007: Turns out, the Cascade compex should be the 2nd biggest in the states…behind the Zaca fire in CA. 205,908 vs. 215,692 acres. Close, but no cigar.

I forgot…the name of my complex is changing. The team who’s camp was burnt around on the 13th – the Cascade Complex – is leaving…as is the Landmark Complex team I was assigned to. One team is taking over all of the fires that both teams were responsible for. The IMET that was working the Cascade Complex is going home – so I’m inheriting them all tomorrow: the Monumental Fire, the Sandy Fire, and the Riordan Fire (the only fire currently in the Landmark Complex). It’ll all to be named the “Cascade Complex”. The total size should be around 205,000 acres…making it the largest complex in the nation right now (I think – I’ll let you know for sure later). Eeeek.

Anywho…here’s a pretty current fire perimeter map (as of 2 days ago). I’ll be responsible for weather on all of them, but the North Fork Fire…where Chuck will remain until Wed, when a new IMET replaces him.

Aug 202007

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Things seemed to be going well today. It rained again – as forecasted. Then it kept raining… And raining… And…well, you get the idea. Ok…it wasn’t that bad. Got 0.27″, 0.18″, and 0.24″ at my 2 Fire RAWS (Remote Automated Weather Sensor…I think) and here in my rain gauge, respectively. Certainly gonna slow this fire down…but it ain’t over. Drying in store through the weekend…then maybe some breezy/gusty southwest winds over the weekend.

The day ended with a nice sunset…

Aug 192007

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A pretty uneventful day. Forecast was right-on-the-money. …but that meant a cold front, rain, and little extreme fire behavior. I have a cool photo of a big spoke column over the Monumental Fire – from yesterday.

…And a picture of a rainbow from today, that ended in a group of tents in camp. I went and bludgeoned the guy in the green tent – but he had no pot of gold.

Also below, is a short video I took looking east yesterday from Cascade, ID. You’ll see 4 or 5 large smoke plumes on the horizon. YESTERDAY was active.

Aug 172007

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I think I promised video of the Cascade Complex “burn around” of August 13th, in this blog. Here it is (or go here, and make it full-screen):

Watch the whole thing. I didn’t edit out anything…so there’s allot of it there. Right around 3:00 minutes…it starts getting interesting. Watch for the fire whirls (the tornado-like tubes of fire). At one point, the camera pans to the right, to show some of the folks in the camp. Our IMET is one of them. Camp resdents crowded near the center of camp, as far away from fuel as possible. A forest of 10-story pine trees burns pretty hot.

The guy with the water hose is putting out spot fires caused by “fire brands” – or bits of burning material that gets flung far into the air, and fall away from the main fire updrafts. You can hear bits of burning stuff – like pine cones or twigs – pelting things on the ground from time to time in the video. I’m told that the IMET had her ear burned by something falling.