Firebomber Publications Blog

Wildfire News Of The Day (the Firebomber Publications blog) provides comprehensive international wildfire news. Subscribers include over 10,000 personnel from fire agencies, contractors, and government entities on five continents. "BEST NEWSLETTER I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY 32 YEARS IN THE FIRE SERVICE" - San Diego Fire Department Chief Brian Fennessy.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


First up in wildfire news today, Wayne Coulson provided a link that will allow anyone to log in and follow his S-61 helicopter's progress fighting fires in Australia at any given time, including recent transit tracks so you can see it as it transits from place to place. Simply go here and enter a login of coulson with a password of mars. Click on 'Google Map' and this will bring up a window with the aircraft location identified (C-FCLM is the S-61 helicopter). If the aircraft is airborne, the arrowhead icon will be green. If it has landed, the arrowhead icon turns gray. If you click on a green arrowhead, a pop-up will tell you the GPS location, speed, heading and altitude of the aircraft. One other feature of the software is that you can see where the aircraft has been over the past few days/weeks/months. Click on the 'sundial' icon to the left of the 'binoculars' icon, then click on one of the date fields on the new screen, then enter a date on the calendar when it pops up. Click on the 'Trip Display' button. Click on 'OK' when the 'Trip position may be limited to 250 positions due to browser performance' message comes up. The next screen that appears will show all the tracks for that aircraft for the selected period. When you're done looking at this display, click on 'Return to Skynode list' to go back to the real-time map where you started. There are a lot of different ways to display the data, so have fun exploring!

Tom Harbour, the aviation chief for the US Forest Service, is contemplating revoking the ban on night-flying helicopters during wildfires on national forest land, as our first two articles show (1)(2). US Forest Service head Tom Tidwell has directed his regional foresters and station directors to come up with plans for landscape conservation in an age of climate change (the memo can be read at this link) (3). Many commuters have to put up with inconsiderate drivers, potholes, and the occasional detour, but those trying to drive the recently-reopened Angeles Crest Highway, which was ravaged by the Station Fire, have a new hazard to deal with: wind-driven rockslides (4)! San Diego Gas & Electric, at the request of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, has extended the lease on their Erickson S-64 firefighting helicopter for an additional two weeks, due to the fire danger in that area (5); while New Mexico's state forester has warned residents that fire danger is high in that state due to mild temperatures and dry vegetation (6). Several families who lost their homes in the spring wildfires in Texas will be receiving temporary donated housing (7). The Christian science Monitor dispenses with the statistics of climate change and speaks from the aspect of human suffering, including increased wildfire activity (8); followed by a related story, an Op-Ed from South Africa that discusses how climate change has increased the danger from wildfires in that part of the world (9). A new study from Chile's Universidad Austral has shown the amount of water retained in their forested areas during the dry season, important information in an age when climate change is increasing the number of forest fires in the area (10). Greenpeace is suggesting that nations pay Brazil, Congo, Indonesia, and other nations with lush, tropical rain forests to preserve them rather than burn them, as emissions from deforestation in these areas constitutes 20% of the world's total greenhouse gases (11). Hunters in Ghana, Africa, are being blamed for wildfires that destroyed many acres of trees on plantations in the northern part of the country (12). As testimony continued at the Royal Bushfire Commission hearings, another tale of tragedy was told about victims who became overconfident that they could defend their home from bushfires on Black Saturday (13); something underscored by a new survey done by the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre (14). Three townships in Victoria that were among the 52 listed as being in extreme bushfire danger will be altering public services on red flag days (15); but in a tale of two states, Victorians are still waiting for their local governments to designate bushfire safe zones, while New South Wales has already identified over a hundred for their citizens (16). After an unseasonably hot November, South Australia has officially kicked off the bushfire season (17); where authorities are being proactive about preventing future bushfires by employing mobile cameras, close monitoring of known arsonists, and warnings to tool purchasers about the dangers from sparks igniting fires (18). A large bushfire has closed down a highway in Western Australia (19). And finally, firefighters in Scotland are taking to their bikes to spread their message of fire prevention to local residents (20)!

(1) Forest Service eyes night flying against fires

(2) U.S. Forest Service reviews no-night-flying rule

(3) Forest Service 'Dramatically Reshaping' Plans in Response to Climate Change

(4) Angeles Crest Highway provides a rocky commute

(5) San Diego Gets Extension On Firefighting Chopper

(6) New Mexico Wildfire Danger is High

(7) Victims Of Spring Wildfires Get Donated Homes

(8) Putting a human face on climate change

(9) South Africa’s Fire Kingdom

(10) Study Links Chile’s Native Forest Cover To Available Water Supply

(11) Greenpeace: Indonesia's Forest Fires Threaten World

(12) Bush Fires Ravage Food Farms In The North

(13) Victims were 'confident'

(14) 'Wait' a dangerous fire plan

(15) Council heeds bushfire risk

(16) Victorians await bushfire-safe areas

(17) SA launches official bushfire season

(18) Mobile cameras to monitor arsonists

(19) Fire closes Geraldton highway

(20) Firefighters in Lanarkshire get on their bikes

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