Summer — Season for Forest Fires


Staff & Wire Reports



A firefighter walks along a containment line in front of an advancing wildfire Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A firefighter walks along a containment line in front of an advancing wildfire Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


A firefighter makes a stand in front of an advancing wildfire as it approaches a residence Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding ,Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


A firefighter walks along a containment line while battling a wildfire Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


NEWS

Crews lament longer fire season that spawns erratic blazes

By MARTHA MENDOZA

Associated Press

Monday, July 30

ANDERSON, California (AP) — Exhausted and hungry, some 12,000 firefighters are working 24-hour shifts battling deadly California wildfires and becoming resigned to fire seasons that start earlier, burn longer and unleash increasingly unpredictable blazes.

“There’s a lot going on up here, endless fires, and they’re all characteristically pretty much the same — windy, hot and dry,” firefighter James Sweeney said before heading out for a meal and a nap.

Sweeney, from St. Petersburg, Florida, is a “hotshot,” part of an elite team of highly trained wildland firefighters who spend fire season battling the fiercest blazes in the country.

Weary after more than a day on the fire lines, the 43-year-old said when his Gila, New Mexico-based crew does leave California, he expects to go north into Oregon, where new fires are kicking up.

“These days it’s crazy,” he said. “We give up our whole life all summer.”

Crews made progress this weekend on the Carr Fire near Redding, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of San Francisco. But it was still threatening thousands of homes and was not expected to be fully contained until mid-August at the earliest.

For many of the firefighters slamming down 9,000-calorie meals between shifts, the nonstop effort has become routine.

Last year, a fast-moving series of fires in Santa Rosa, just north of San Francisco, and elsewhere in Northern California killed 44 people and destroyed more than 8,000 structures. Last December’s Thomas Fire near Santa Barbara burned almost 282,000 acres (440 square miles), becoming the largest wildfire in California history.

In his 19 years on the job, Cal Fire Capt. Chris Anthony said the most significant change is that hotter, drier conditions now mean that firefighters are trained to take a “tactical pause” to reconsider before charging in against the flames.

“Fire has become a lot more unpredictable,” he said. “In the past we could plan, but these days a fire can take a sudden and deadly turn.”

That’s what happened Thursday, when the fire near Redding pivoted and exploded in size, taking down hundreds of homes and killing five people, two of them firefighters. Another firefighter was killed earlier in the month battling a giant fire near Yosemite National Park.

Firefighter Jason Campbell was on the front lines Thursday near Yosemite when the Carr Fire destroyed his home, an RV and a boat near Redding. Redding Police Chief Roger Moore also lost his home.

Capt. Jarrett Grassl, a 19-year veteran who works for the Higgins Fire District in Northern California, said his crew ran into homeowners trying to save their own properties. The threat to homes reflects the shrinking divide between wilderness and urban areas.

“Every year it seems to be a bigger problem,” Grassl said Saturday, in 110-degree weather with zero precipitation.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said he can see the fatigue on the faces of the firefighters when they come in to refuel.

“What really helps to encourage them is a thank you,” Bosenko said Sunday. “Maybe something posted near the fence that gives them encouragement … that is a big plus for the firefighters that are coming in to recover.”

Fighting wildfires is almost always dangerous and grueling, but experienced firefighters said the Carr Fire has been even hotter, drier and more erratic than they are accustomed to.

Crews used shovels, hoses and chain saws to corral giant walls of flame that burned through canyons and up steep gulches. The air was thick with smoke and dust as they hauled heavy gear up and down unstable hillsides, grabbing gulps of water whenever they could. They largely worked in silence, with the sound of crashing tree limbs and roaring flames drowning out radios.

Nevada County Fire Capt. Nathan Menth calls California’s weather system “the prolonged summer.” Replenishing fire hose gear after spending the night protecting a Redding neighborhood, he said he was surprised by how quickly the fire spread.

“The winds came in,” he said. “It was out of control.”

But 13 years into his career, that chaos is something he’s come to expect.

There was one small bright spot in his last shift. As flames leaped from one pine to the next, creating a canopy of fire, his team stopped its truck in a driveway near scattered oak trees, expecting the wildfire to continue unchecked.

“But this one oak, it slowed it down,” he said. “I don’t know why, but it just didn’t torch off. And that allowed us to turn the fire from those homes, to be proactive instead of reactive.”

https://www.sunburynews.com/news/17735/kasich-considers-clemenc

Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact Wins National Smokey Bear Award

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

July 20, 2018

COLUMBUS – The Mid-Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact’s (MAIFFPC) Fire Prevention Committee was recently presented with the Golden Smokey Award, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Ohio’s representative on the committee, Aaron Kloss of Centerburg in Knox County, accepted the honor on behalf of the ODNR Division of Forestry. The presentation ceremony took place at Vinton Furnace State Forest on Wednesday in conjunction with the Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance summer meeting.

“I’m pleased to represent the ODNR Division of Forestry on the compact prevention committee and all of the work we have done for wildfire prevention across the state, region and nation,” said Kloss, who has been dispatched throughout the country more than 20 times to fight wildfires with ODNR’s wildland fire crews and as an ODNR Division of Forestry single resource. “To receive the Golden Smokey Award is a true honor, and being able to work with other people in our region who are passionate about preventing wildfires has been a great experience.”

Since 1957, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service has awarded the Golden Smokey Award to recognize organizations and individuals for their outstanding service in wildfire prevention at the national level. This prestigious award is considered the greatest honor presented to wildfire prevention organizations.

Kloss has worked for ODNR for 15 years and has served on the compact prevention committee for 14 years. One of his projects on the committee includes the Smokey Bear video, which helps teach kids about outdoor fire safety in an engaging way. The four-minute video was produced in Ohio and was a collaboration with the Columbus College of Art & Design and the ODNR Division of Forestry to research, design and create a new Smokey Bear animated video and song, available at forestry.ohiodnr.gov/smokeybear.

“The compact has maximized creativity and innovation to deliver fire prevention messages to thousands of people regionally, nationally and internationally,” said Robert Boyles, Ohio’s state forester. “Members have gone above and beyond their regular duties to influence fire prevention in a meaningful way.”

The MAIFFPC was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1956 and represents seven states in the Mid-Atlantic region, covering a collective 35,000,000 acres. The member states include Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The compact allows sharing of state resources for wildfire control and promotes effective wildfire prevention across the region, particularly through outreach projects managed by the Fire Prevention Committee.

Over the past several years, compact member states have worked together to produce innovative wildfire prevention messages that impact thousands of individuals across the United States and Canada. Creative outreach efforts include interactive children’s games, customized Smokey Bear artwork for the region and an international wildfire prevention-focused conference. Their upcoming projects consist of a supplemental Smokey-themed booklet, which will appear in the popular children’s magazine Highlights and a wildfire app.

The Smokey Bear awards are sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council. Individuals interested in the program may visit smokeybear.com/awards.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR’s Natural Resources Park Invites Visitors to Make State Fair Memories

Ohio State Fair will be held July 25-Aug. 5

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is continuing the tradition of bringing the great outdoors to the Ohio State Fair! A fairgoer favorite since 1957, the Natural Resources Park will offer free interactive exhibits and displays that allow visitors a glimpse into the outdoor recreational opportunities right here in Ohio. Located in the southeast corner of the state fairgrounds, the park will be open to all fairgoers attending the Ohio State Fair, which runs July 25-Aug 5. Free activities are available for people to enjoy in the park from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

“The Natural Resources Park provides people with a chance to experience and participate in outdoor recreational activities through hands-on and interactive exhibits,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said. “The Ohio State Fair gives us an ideal opportunity to share everything we do here at ODNR and allows visitors to participate in some great activities that can be found across the state.”

A new Touch-a-Truck exhibit will make its debut this year at the Ohio State Fair. This kid-friendly exhibit will contain different types of vehicles that are used by ODNR. Visitors can jump aboard a boat provided by the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft or admire a bulldozer used by the ODNR Division of Forestry.

This year, K-9s for Conservation will be making an appearance at the Natural Resources Park. Trained patrol K-9s will be there for meet and greet along with their handlers. A K-9 and their handler will also be doing demonstrations throughout the week at the ODNR Amphitheater.

This year, the Camping Village will offer guests a peaceful stroll through the Natural Resources Park by being transformed into a camping trail. This trail will showcase some of the overnight options available at Ohio’s state parks. Make sure to stop and experience “riding” a jet ski on the personal watercraft simulator stationed along the trail. The camping trail will encourage fairgoers to dive into Ohio’s outdoors and experience the trails around the state.

For its second year, the Wild Ohio Shooting Range houses archery and air gun ranges. People of all ages and skill levels can learn about safe shooting techniques while in a safe and educational environment. This building can accommodate up to 10 shooters at the air gun range and five shooters at the archery range.

Youth under the age of 14 visiting the Natural Resources Park can become experts at the youth fishing pond. Returning for its second year, the Fish Ohio Building will be the next stop for all guests. The building houses refrigerated storage to temporarily hold fish that youth have caught until they are ready to be picked up and taken home. Staff will also be giving fish filleting and cooking demonstrations.

Back by popular demand, the 7,000-square-foot pond at the Natural Resources Park will give guests a chance to try their hand at kayaking. Guests will be fitted with a life jacket before receiving a demonstration on how to safely kayak.

One of the favorite exhibits for people visiting the park is talking with Smokey Bear, an animatronic bear who talks to visitors about preventing wildfires with his moving arms, hands and mouth. Smokey Bear will greet children by name from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. A 71-foot-tall fire tower, originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 in Pike County, is also located directly behind Smokey to reinforce the icon’s fire prevention message.

The ODNR Natural Resources Park will once again offer free outdoor entertainment in the ODNR Amphitheater, which seats 600 people. Visitors can sit back and relax in a shaded area and enjoy the show. Retriever dogs, lumberjacks, naturalists and more can all be found performing on the amphitheater stage. A detailed list of acts is located on ODNR’s state fair website.

The Natural Resources Park offers a multitude of educational opportunities. Stroll through the Geological Walkway to learn about Ohio’s ancient natural materials, and an audio tour is available online for guests who are interested in learning more. Guests are also encouraged to enjoy the tallgrass prairie, where more than 85 species of prairie plants can be found.

There are also educational opportunities for guests looking to learn more about wildlife. Visit the Butterfly House to be transported into a magical world of vibrant colors, while gazing up at butterflies and learning about a butterfly’s life cycle. Stop by Ruthven’s Aviary to learn about some of Ohio’s native bird species, as well as how to create wildlife-friendly backyards. For a more hands-on experience, visit the Scenic Rivers touch pool. The shallow pool will contain many of Ohio’s native macroinvertebrates species, plus a few crayfish and small stream fish. The Scenic Rivers program monitors these creatures to help gauge stream health.

The ODNR information booth will offer natural resources literature, and the gift shop will showcase a wide array of souvenirs, clothing and toys available for purchase.

For more information about the ODNR Natural Resources Park or to check out the daily amphitheater schedule, visit ohiodnr.gov/statefair. For more information about the Ohio State Fair, go to ohiostatefair.com.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

Ohio Crews Called for Oregon Wildfire Assistance

Twenty-person wildfire crew working at Crater Lake National Park

COLUMBUS – A 20-person Ohio wildfire crew from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) left Friday, July 20, to travel to Redmond, Oregon. They were then assigned to the Timber Crater 6 fire at Crater Lake National Park.

Additionally, an ODNR Division of Forestry wildfire crew consisting of three people left on July 20 to relieve a crew who had been working with the department’s off-road wildland fire engine to assist wildfire suppression efforts in Texas. An ODNR Division of Forestry wildfire crew consisting of two people and a bulldozer is also assisting in Texas. In addition, the 20-person Ohio wildfire crew who had been assigned to the Dollar Ridge Fire in northeastern Utah for the past two weeks returned home on Tuesday, July 24.

The ODNR Division of Forestry has also provided a single resource this week to serve as a support dispatcher at the Lake Christine fire near Grand Junction, Colorado.

The ODNR Division of Forestry trains ODNR, federal and private natural resource agencies, as well as fire department personnel from across the state, for inter-agency wildland fire detail and emergencies to protect life and property in Ohio; manage prescribed fire for forest regeneration; and to provide assistance to other states as part of the national effort.

Ohio crews and individual management personnel have assisted with hurricanes, floods and wildfire incidents since 1986. Crews and overhead staff are normally dispatched out-of-state for two-week assignments. Travel and wage costs are reimbursed by requesting agencies. Last year, Ohio’s wildfire and engine crews responded to wildfire assignments in California, Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico and Montana.

The ODNR Division of Forestry also coordinates agreements and wildfire training, prevention, suppression and enforcement with 325 fire departments in the southern and eastern parts of the state and around Maumee State Forest in the state’s northwest corner.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands and the fire management program, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

A firefighter walks along a containment line in front of an advancing wildfire Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/07/web1_121038851-f50914dab5f84af8ac19d6111bb9a380.jpgA firefighter walks along a containment line in front of an advancing wildfire Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A firefighter makes a stand in front of an advancing wildfire as it approaches a residence Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding ,Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/07/web1_121038851-a2b1f0e6e6414f6580b7600eaf7a5cc8.jpgA firefighter makes a stand in front of an advancing wildfire as it approaches a residence Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding ,Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A firefighter walks along a containment line while battling a wildfire Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/07/web1_121038851-019828441ac548b7906c33d15f37d265.jpgA firefighter walks along a containment line while battling a wildfire Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Redding, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Staff & Wire Reports