First up in wildfire news today, a first-person report that debunks a popular news flash that five people foolishly let themselves be trapped on a fire-threatened ranch after being told to evacuate:
On Sunday afternoon the Station Fire ran wild in Gold Creek Cyn of the Tujunga Valley. A ranch property that was built in 1908 as a hunting lodge sat in danger's way. The owner a 77-year-old man and 35-year resident of the valley and some of his close friends watched the fire looming closer to the property lines of the 160 acre ranch. The Fire Department and Sheriffs Dept requested that they evacuate immediately.
When asked if there would be a fire truck to defend the home when they left they we're told there would not be, as the fire was far too dangerous to deploy firefighting equipment and men into the canyon.
The residents immediately reached out to friend Ty Bonnar who runs, Flexible Alternatives, Inc, (Simi Valley, CA - PCADS and Flexitanks). Ty said he could help with some of the new products that they have had developed for wildland firefighting and home protection. 6pm Sunday night 3 Fire-Pro Homeowner Fire Defense Unit's (FDU) were delivered to the property and by 8pm each of the 3 fire resistant tanks were filled with 250 gallons of water prepped with fire gel, connected to the high pressure pump and were ready to go.
By 8am Monday, the next morning, rumors of 5 people trapped in Gold Creek, who were now calling for help after refusing to evacuate, hit the airwaves. Travis Wyse who was still at the ranch, the one who, with Ty, delivered and prepared the FDU said no such call was ever made to anyone regarding an emergency evacuation. The only request made by the residents of the ranch was that no additional resources, fire fighters or effort be used for them. "We made the decision to stay and protect the property and home using the STAY AND DEFEND tactic and do not expect or request any further assistance".
"By 12:30am early Tuesday Morning the fire actually breached the fire roads and started racing down the canyon" said Nicholas one of the residents. At 3:00am the fire had reached the ranch, at which point the residents deployed the FDU, and completely covered the entire cabin, surrounding storage sheds as well as all surrounding brush and trees, and as the quick-moving fire advanced on the gel-soaked perimeter around 4am it literally "laid down and came to a smoldering stop" says Nicholas.
The 3rd backup FDU was then used to keep what was left of the now-slow-smoldering fire at bay and put out the remaining hot spots. By 10pm the firefighters were able to enter the canyon and finish the job. The 3rd FDU was a 500 USG tank that was never used but on hand just in case.
Ty Bonnar of Flexible Alternatives said the Fire-Pro USA equipment used to protect the ranch was manufactured to the same specifications and standards as the companies Precision Container Air Delivery System (PCADS) aerial fire fighting system currently in development for Boeing's Phantom works and the US ARMY. "This is no garden hose system, this is a professional and complete portable firefighting system". All 5 of the people presumed trapped are now safe and unharmed, and what had been home to a 77-year-old man since 1975 has been spared, or as Sheriffs Spokesman Steve Whitmore said... "The situation resolved itself".
In the news, it's not every day that you get the governor serving you breakfast, but that's exactly what happened to firefighters today! While some incident command staff voiced optimism about getting the Station Fire under control, others counseled caution; but Hurricane Jimena, which is heading up Baja California, may add some lightning fires to the ones already burning in Southern California. As the Station fire expands towards the hillside communities of Altadena and Sierra Madre, a rough tally of the cost of this fire so far is calculated; and residents of the hillside community of La Canada/Flintridge are happy that their homes are still standing. Confirming something that practically everybody who lives in this area already knows, officials have identified that the Station Fire was human caused; and many were happy that the Martin Mars was finally brought into play on the Station Fire yesterday as it worked to protect the observatory and radio transmitters on Mount Wilson. Time magazine tackles the topic of aerial firefighting; while an LA Times reporter weighs in on the importance of air-tankers in battling these massive fires. The "Special Forces" of the US Forest Service, the Hot Shots, are profiled in the next article. Among the many firefighters being dispatched by other departments to help with the Station Fire, neighboring Orange County has sent about 40 firefighters; but as the weather cools a bit, some firefighters are being sent home from the fire lines. And as families suffer through their wildfire disasters, good Samaritans are lining up to help; but unfortunately, so are the scam artists. A US Forest Service fire behavior specialist comments on the natural process of wildfires in light of current wildfires in Southern California; however, fingers are being pointed at US Forest Service for not having cleared out vegetation before the destructive wildfires that have just burned through the Angeles National Forest, and USFS officials, in turn, have pointed their fingers at environmentalists who hampered their clearance efforts. The importance of FEMA federal funds to assist California with firefighting suppression costs is discussed in the next article; something underscored by a radio segment that explores the cost of the wildfires in Southern California in light of the current financial crisis in this state; and as homes go up in flames, insurance rates are also going up, somewheres between 4% and 7% across Southern California's fire zone. A news segment from Oregon provides some interesting photos of smoke spreading from the California wildfires across the West; followed by an exposé on the 747 Supertanker. National Transportation Safety Board has determined that an air tanker that crashed in Nevada fighting a wildfire last month was unable to pull up before colliding with terrain. The Water Wheel Fire, which is burning near Payson, Arizona, is nearing 50% containment after burning over 700 acres; and firefighters in New Mexico are breathing a sigh of relief after much-needed rain has helped quell many of the fires in Gila National Forest. A pair of lightning-sparked wildfires have ignited in northern Colorado; but firefighters in Utah are hoping that a cool front moving through parts of that state will help them to corral wildfires in the area. Alabama has sent some more firefighters to Texas to help fight wildfires in a state which is seen 14,000 fires that have burned 700,000 acres and 1,200 structures so far this year; and a preparedness outfit from Florida provides advice on how families can prepare to evacuate from wildfire areas. Canadian officials announced a grant of over $3 million to help Native Canadians purchase much-needed fire equipment. Power lines are once again getting the blame for bushfires, this time some of the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Australia; but there can be other sources as well: fire officials in New South Wales now believe they're dealing with an arsonist who set two blazes yesterday. And finally, Country Fire Authority officials will have to put a fleet of 55 new fire trucks on a diet, as they are considered to be 220 pounds over the safe weight limit!
Schwarzenegger hails firefighters as heroes
California wildfire grows; so does optimism
Could Hurricane Jimena put out California’s wildfires?
Station fire pushes farther east to above Sierra Madre; cost of battle pegged at $21 million [Updated]
La Cañada Flintridge residents express their gratitude to firefighters
Official: Big LA forest fire human caused
Giant air tanker drops water on Mount Wilson
What Are They Dumping on Wildfires?
Fire planes, supporting actors, get top billing
Fighting California Blaze With 'Special Forces' of Firefighters
O.C. firefighters faced 100-foot wall of flames in L.A. blaze
Dozens of engines released from LA-area wildfire
Donations Being Accepted To Aid Wildfire Victims
Donors to wildfire victims urged to avoid 'sham charities'
US Forest Service fire behavior specialist says fire is a natural process
Feds failed to clear brush in LA wildfire area
Cost to fight wildfires adds up quickly for Calif.
$108 million spent on firefighting so far this fiscal year
California homeowners facing insurance rate hikes
Smoke from LA wildfire seen in several states
Evergreen Aviation 747 drops retardant on California wildfires
NTSB report: Air tanker pilot killed in Nevada last month failed to clear terrain
Wildfire near Payson 45% contained
Recent rain moderates Gila forest fire behavior
Firefighters working on two small wildfires in northern Colorado
Scofield firefighters hope weather will be an ally
Alabama firefighting teams head to Texas
Property Protection Research Group Provides Wildfire Guides for Home and
Government of Canada Delivers Strong Investment for Firefighting to 93 Ontario First Nations
South-west bushfires blamed on powerlines
Arsonists blamed for bushfire outbreaks
CFA hit by heavy firetruck fiasco