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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Largest fire in the US right now is in my back yard. :( 202,000 acres (315 square miles) as of July 13. Over 50 structures lost so far. It's going to be a long summer

This thing may go 500,000 acres before they can get it corralled. It's heading for a really large section of lodgepole pine forest that was killed by the pine beetle. They aren't slowing it down in the live trees, there's no hope when it gets to the dead ones.

bootleg fire.jpg


Photo courtesy USFS via the internet
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The fire is heading away from our city into a wilderness full of dead lodgepole, and on the other side of the wilderness is a huge area (500,000 acres) of beetle kill. The convection column made it to 40,000 feet and caused pyrocumulonimbus clouds that resulted in at least one lightning strike and extremely high winds. When I was going to college, I had a summer time job running a transit establishing the boundary between the Gearheart Wilderness and the national forest to keep the logging operations on the FS side of the boundary. That was some of the most awesome pine forest anywhere.

This photo was taken of the smoke from the fire at near sunset. The color is filtered sunlight. Picture courtesy of the internet.

Bootleg fire at sunset.jpg
 

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We've been pretty lucky so far this year. 2 fires broke out near my work, one was close enough to a major gold mine that they put 60 people on it and were dropping water/retardant and got it out in just under 1000 acres. If it wasn't for the gold mine, it probably would have ballooned to 50k acres before they really responded. The other fire that was just 3 miles north of my work, fortunately it took off the other direction and they put out the hotspots behind it. It burned just 927 acres and it is 100% contained, and not threatening any structures, so they shifted their attention to the fire burning out near Chena Hot Springs Resort. They are just in emergency mode to protect structures. 40k acres on that one, 6% contained, but no structures in the burn path so they may just work on the edges to keep it going where they want it to go.

Been extremely dry here. Any rain we've gotten just gets absorbed by the ground within minutes and usually the rain has more lightning. Burn ban on everything. They even closed down the fireworks stands after letting them open for a few days. Only fires that are permitted are fully managed burn barrels (person must be monitoring and have a water source nearby) and very small camp fires just for the purpose of cooking, but even those are banned outside of state park fire pits.

But, this has been a slow fire season for Alaska. (knock on wood). Just 177k acres burned overall, which compared to 2019, which burned 2.5 million acres is not bad. We'll probably reach last years total before the snow flies.

The difference between Alaska wild fires and fires in the lower 48 is simply population. Fire crews will protect any structure up here, but typically they don't really fight the fire unless it has potential to take out structures. Fires up here can burn a million acres and not threaten anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When I was in college, I had a buddy that worked on an Alaska State Forestry engine in the summer. He had several fires that were over 1000 acres where there were only two crews on 'em, and like you said, to protect a structure. He said especially out on the tundra it does more resource damage trying to stop the fire by digging fireline than the vegetation burning does. I found that pretty interesting and it made a lot of sense.

The fire near here has gone through a couple rural subdivisions, they don't know how many have been lost, as no one has gone in to do a complete survey yet. Over 80 for sure. I have a friend that was in the process of building a beautiful log house out in the area, the fire went right through there. He and his wife have not been able to get back in to see what damage was caused. I feel for 'em, it really sucks not knowing, especially for a week. That's a lot of sleepless nights to be sure.

The smoke cloud over the fire is even bigger today than yesterday as the fire gets into the wilderness and all the dead trees that have died and been left to rot. There are 1700 firefighters assigned to the fire with many air assets (when they can fly and when they can get fuel, one of the nearby tanker bases ran out of jet fuel... great) as well as tenders, dozers, engines, etc. But the weather is against 'em and they are in a losing battle. There used to be some really great areas around the wilderness, but I'm afraid the fire will take 'em all. :(

Pray for rain
 

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As of this morning's Situation Report (https://www.nifc.gov/nicc/sitreprt.pdf) we are roughly 4000 more fires this year than the 10 year average for this date and about 950,000 behind the 10 year average. I do think that this is just the beginning of a long hard fight for the ground pounders. I did 43 years of wildland fire efforts and came to the realization that when it's ready (fuels and weather) it's going to go and you had better watch out.
 

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Amen to that, steep. It can be pretty spectacular as long as you are in a safe place to watch. From a distance. Or on Youtube ;)

I did 8 seasons with the USFS and ODF, (mostly engines, but two seasons on a shot crew) then figured out that structure fire departments keep you employed year around and did 30 years here before retiring. I don't envy those guys out there this year, that's for sure.
 

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I had 4 years with Tennessee Division of Forestry, 35.5 years with the U.S. Forest Service and 9 years with local Fire Department. Was on a Type II Incident Management Team for 10 years and have been on fires on almost all of the western states.
Still think that the '88 season was the big one but most of the folks involved today were just in diapers or were still a grin in Dad's eyes then.
 

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Here on the Canadian East Coast it's been the coolest summer that I can remember. Highest temp I've seen was around 27C/80F and we've been getting pretty consistent rain. Normally by July in hitting a "cut the dry brown lawn once a month" spell but it's been green grass weekly mowing all year so far...

We've had plenty of sun though. So it's been pretty nice when you live no further than 30 minutes from a beach or shoreline from any part of the province... 😎
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You guys back east could send some of that excess rain and cold our way... up north in Lytton, BC at the end of June, they hit 46.6 C (116 F) which is a record. And it's been hot ever since. Western Canada is having the same fire issues that we are having in Oregon, Washington, California.

If I remember right, 88 was the Yellowstone fire? What a mess that was. Some times the "let burn" policy is not the best policy.
 
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