FIRE - 2005

map from



compiled by Dee Finney


4-7-05 - DREAM - I was walking out in the country with some friends. I saw what looked like fireworks going off in the distance, but then I saw a huge fireball come arching up and across the sky. It landed in a dry cornfield off to my left.

I thought to myself, "That's going to start a fire."  No sooner had I thought that and I saw flames and heard the sound of a raging fire where the fireball had landed.

Suddenly a second fireball came arching overhead. It too landed nearby and instantly burst the field to flames.

I said to my friends, "They only thing we can do is run like hell."  and we did.


Sheriff possee member Bob Denny observes the Carefree Complex fire June 23 
which destroyed more than 20 homes in Arizona.

By Jeff Topping, Getty Images

Wildfires scorch 85,000 acres in Arizona, Nevada
CAREFREE, Ariz. (AP) — Relief mingled with sorrow as residents who fled a racing wildfire near Phoenix returned Friday to find many homes intact but others reduced to piles of ash with only the chimneys standing

In neighboring Nevada, meanwhile, a series of fires surrounding Las Vegas cast a yellow pall of smoke over the Strip that lifted gradually as the day wore on. No structures were damaged in any of the southern Nevada fires, officials said.

In Arizona, 11 homes and three storage sheds were destroyed in Camp Creek, which bore the brunt of the fire. Homes elsewhere in the area about 20 miles northeast of Phoenix escaped serious damage, and the fire continued to move away Friday, leaving 46,000 acres scorched.

Tom Sell was among the lucky ones. The cabin he spent months restoring had been spared. "I'm devastated that there was a fire, but I'm ecstatic that my place is still here," he said.

His neighbor, Glenn Wilt, lost his cabin. He said residents were saddened by the losses but added: "It goes up and it comes down, and we'll just rebuild."

The fire began Tuesday as two separate lightning-caused blazes that later merged. It forced the evacuation of 250 homes on Wednesday, including those in upscale Tonto Hills. Many of those residents had returned by Friday.

Heavy spring rains caused above average vegetation growth and the dry summer has helped to create several wildfires in Arizona.

In Nevada, a total of 18 lightning-sparked blazes had charred more than 39,500 acres of parched grass, desert shrubs and mountain pines by Friday. Smoke from the fire drifts to Las Vegas.

"We're continuing to work in the air and on the ground, and we're hoping Mother Nature and the winds will cooperate," said Kirsten Cannon, a Bureau of Land Management fire spokeswoman.

Four of the more than 600 firefighters working in southern Nevada reported minor injuries, officials said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Fire Crews Battles Blazes Across Southwest

The Associated Press
Sunday, June 26, 2005; 4:58 AM

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- Fire crews continued trying to extinguish a string of blazes that covered southwestern Utah in a black fog and threatened hundreds of homes amid high winds and hot, dry conditions.

Flames up to 10 feet high were visible Saturday from Interstate 15 just north of St. George before the fire eventually jumped the road and forced its closure.

The Las Vegas Blvd.
The Las Vegas Blvd. "strip" is seen in the foreground as smoke from nearby wildfires blanket the Spring Mountains southwest of Las Vegas Saturday, June 25, 2005. At least 10 wildfires sparked by lightning are burning in the southern Nevada area prompting an air quality advisory in the Las Vegas valley for Saturday. (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta) (Joe Cavaretta - AP)

Residents of Gunlock, about 260 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, were told to leave Saturday after the largest fire in the area _ which had consumed 59,000 acres _ edged to within four miles. Firefighters were battling winds up to 25 miles per hour and several other smaller fires sparked by lightning that kept popping up nearby.

Elsewhere, firefighters continued to battle blazes in California, Arizona and Nevada that have already consumed more than 200,000 acres in recent days.

The region had an unusually wet spring and late snow melt, providing plenty of fuel as vegetation dried out in 90-degree June temperatures.

"When it gets in that high grass, it's just like a blowtorch," said Gary Elliott, of the National Interagency Fire Center.

About 400 firefighters were working on the ground in Utah, aided by four heavy air tankers, six small single engine airplanes and three helicopters. Emergency response officials said 64 of Gunlock's 112 residents had evacuated their homes.

Hyrum Smith, who runs a cattle ranch near Gunlock, said he was waiting to see if the fire got any closer before leaving his land.

"Nobody knows what it's going to do so we're just kind of watching it hour by hour here," he said. "They're taking precautions and asking people to evacuate, which is the smart thing to do. But it would have to cross some pretty rugged area to get to the town."

Also Saturday, firefighters near Kelso, Calif., struggled to surround a wildfire that had burned 65,200 acres in the rugged Mojave National Preserve, which includes historic mines and sites with ancient Indian pictographs.

The blaze has destroyed five homes and two cabins built in the late 1800s, while several dozen other homes were threatened with strong winds expected Saturday. The fire was fueled by grass, sagebrush, juniper and pinyon pine that had grown unusually dense after last winter's abundant rainfall.

The fire was only 15 percent contained Saturday, Ranger Linda Slater said.

A brush and grass fire that has charred 79,000 acres in Arizona was about 20 percent contained Saturday after turning away from an upscale community northeast of Phoenix. Evacuees began returning home Friday.

Arizona fire officials were concerned about a threat of more thunderstorms that could fan flames and generate lightning.

In Nevada, a wildfire raging in the mountains southwest of the Las Vegas Strip grew to over 24,000 acres Saturday, prompting the closure of a state highway that leads to Death Valley National Park.

The fire was one of at least 21 blazes that have scorched more than 91,000 acres in relatively remote areas of southern Nevada since Wednesday.

"One of the biggest problems is the fuel we have out there," said fire spokesman Joe Colwell. "Everybody was thinking, 'Wow we had a good winter, it might ease the drought.' But what it did was allow a lot of things to grow."


Associated Press Writer Christina Almeida contributed to this report from Las Vegas.

About 350 Evacuated in Utah as Wildfire Nears


GUNLOCK, Utah (AP) -- A small town in Utah is being evacuated because of an approaching wildfire.

Flames are about four miles away from Gunlock. With the weather hot and windy, everyone in the town of about 350 has been told to leave. The fire has already burned about 40,000 acres in southwestern Utah.

Meanwhile, firefighters are struggling to surround a 52,000-acre wildfire in California. It's burning in a wilderness preserve that includes horse corrals from the 1870s, historic mines and sites with ancient Indian pictographs.

Firefighters are also battling a 60,000-acre fire in Arizona and in southern Nevada a pall of smoke has drifted over the Las Vegas Strip from 19 blazes that have charred nearly 54,000 acres.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved


Article Published: Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 

Hackberry Complex Fire racing towards Nevada

By Nikki Cobb, Staff Writer

KELSO - The 65,200-acre fire sweeping across the Mojave National Preserve was racing toward Nevada Saturday night as fire officials worried that a change in the weather could bring winds gusting up to 45 mph.

More than 930 firefighters battling the Hackberry Complex Fire were hindered by 90-degree temperatures, 8-percent humidity, steep, rocky terrain and strong breezes as they struggled to beat back the fire Saturday, which by nightfall was 65 percent contained.

"This is definitely the biggest fire ever in the east Mojave,' said Park Ranger Linda Slater.

A thunderstorm that swept across the preserve on Wednesday afternoon had started five fires with multiple lightning strikes, Park Ranger Ruby Newton said.

At first, the fires were isolated. The Hackberry, the Wild Horse, the Ranch, the Brandt and the Narrows fires all burned separately.

The Hackberry fire was fully contained Saturday evening, and crews were mopping up. The Brandt, another isolated blaze, was mostly contained too, Newton said.

There's not much fire burning at that place now,' she said.

But the Ranch, the Wild Horse and the Narrows fires have merged, and were burning steadily Saturday evening in a blaze called the Hackberry Complex.

Fire officials fear that a cold front, expected to blow through Saturday night, will change the wind's direction from north-northeast to southwest.

"The front could bring us winds that gust up to 45 miles per hour,' said Capt. Chris Hoover of the Kern County Fire Department. "We've had some pretty good breezes, particularly on the north side. But we haven't had to deal with those kinds of winds yet.'

Meanwhile, the Paradise Fire was 100 percent contained Saturday after having charred 3,022 acres near Yucca Valley.

In the Mojave National Preserve, the blazes have burned five houses, six trailers and several outbuildings, Hoover said. There were 30 to 40 homes threatened as well.

About a dozen people were evacuated from their homes in Round Valley, Fourth of July Canyon and Cedar Canyon. Mid Hills Campground was damaged in the fire as well, Slater said.

The fire is not expected to reach Interstate 15.

The Mojave National Preserve contains ecological treasures, and firefighters were mindful particularly of habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, Hoover said.

Fortunately for the tortoise, the fire is mostly burning at higher elevations than the hole-dwelling creatures live. Still, efforts are being made to minimize damage.

"We're trying to use water as much as we can, to avoid staining things with flame retardant,' he said. "We're trying to make as little impact as we can.'

Firefighters are also battling to save cultural sites, such as ranches and mining cabins built in the 1860s.

"There are mine shafts around there that pose another hazard for the firefighters,' Slater said. "It would be easy for them to fall in and get hurt.

"We don't want to lose anybody.'

The fire is burning pinyon pine, juniper and sagebrush, Slater said.

She said that though winter rains had brought spectacular displays of flowers this spring, they had also fed grasses that carpeted the desert. Those grasses have dried and are fueling the fire.

"When we don't have a lot of rain there's nothing to burn, so a fire jumps from one shrub to the next,' she said. "Now it's just sweeping across.'

By nightfall, though, fire officials were encouraged. Cooler temperatures had helped firefighters considerably. "We're making some progress,' Slater said. "We're real hopeful."

  Article Published: Saturday, June 25, 2005

Brush fire under control in Santa Clarita Valley

A brush fire that broke out Saturday in the Santa Clarita Valley had grown to about 60 acres this afternoon but is about 65 percent contained.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or structure damage.

The blaze, which started near Hasley Canyon and Oak Canyon roads, was reported about 1:30 p.m., said Los Angeles County supervising fire dispatcher Monica Kennedy. The area is northeast of Val Verde Park and south of Castaic.

About 300 firefighters, supported by crews in four helicopters, were battling the flames, according to ABC7.

No homes were threatened, Kennedy said.

The California Highway Patrol shut down Hasley Canyon Road in the fire area, where fire officials said the wet winter resulted in 30 percent more fuel on the hillside that was dry and ready to burn, according to ABC7.

However, the weather was cooperating with firefighters, blowing the flames back on themselves, the TV station reported.

"The winds are the key,' Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Mike McCormick told the TV station. "It's only 3-5 (mph), maybe, on the winds, out of the southwest, so the fire is just creeping, which gives us a great chance to control the fire and keep it under a large acreage fire.'

The fire was 65 percent contained, and fire officials said they expect full containment within hours, ABC7 reported.

Earlier Saturday, a brush fire near Diamond Bar scorched about 10 acres, but there were no injuries and no structure damage. : City News Service

Wildfire prompts evacuation of Fort Washakie

FORT WASHAKIE - A large wildfire bore down on this town of 250 on the Wind River Indian Reservation on Sunday, burning a vacant building and prompting a full evacuation.

No injuries were reported.

The fire was at least five miles long along the banks of the Little Wind River, according to R.J. Shakespeare, chief medical officer with the Fort Washakie Fire Department.

"It's right on the inside of town," he said.

The burned building was the former Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters for the reservation, which has been vacant for several years. Other buildings in the BIA compound on the edge of town were unscathed, but much of the north end of town was shrouded in smoke.

All roads into Fort Washakie were closed, including U.S. 287. The fire went under the U.S. 287 bridge at the river, according to a witness, Ernie Over, of Lander.

Ivan Posey, chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, said the flames were being fueled by thick vegetation in the river bottom and 25-mph wind gusting to 35 mph.

"There's some old cottonwood trees, so I think some of that is pretty dry tinder," he said. "There's a lot of brush down there _ a lot of brush and a lot of dry grass."

The evacuees included residents of Morning Star Manor nursing home, some of whom were wheeled out and put in ambulances and other vehicles, according to Over.

Evacuees were being taken in shuttle buses to a Red Cross shelter at Wind River High School in Ethete, about eight miles east of Fort Washakie. An ambulance was also standing by at the school.

Fire units responded from all over Fremont County, including Riverton and Lander, and a command center was set up at the Fort Washakie Fire Department.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Sunday, April 17, 2005 — 12:08:45 AM EST
Wildfire danger remains
By DEANNA FLEISCHMANN, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is still warning citizens of the high fire danger.

"We had two wildfires (Friday) and two more wildfires (Saturday)," Randy McKenzie, fire specialist for the DNR at the Chocolay Township office said Saturday. "The one (Saturday) was in West Ishpeming and it was caused by a burning debris pile that was left from three days ago that just rekindled. That shows you just how dry it is."

Another wildfire burned about 18 acres of land Friday just south of Gatesville, near Detour.

"The cause at this time is unknown and it's just been baffling me," said John Krzycki, fire supervisor at the Detour DNR office. "There is nothing to indicate that it was deliberate, there are no roads near it and there weren't any people. It started in hardwoods ... and spread to an open field, and I found the origin but the cause is just a mystery."

McKenzie said the overcast sky and threat of rain on Saturday may give citizens the wrong impression.

"We're concerned that this little sprinkle from Gwinn to the west will make people think it's safe, but it's not enough rain. It's just like a heavy dew that will dry up with a sunny day and that's what we're expecting for (today)," McKenzie said. "People need to be patient and wait for significant rain fall and we don't expect that to happen until Tuesday or Wednesday."

The National Weather Service is calling for a 30 percent change of showers and thunderstorms Monday night and a 40 percent chance on Tuesday.

McKenzie added that burning permits are not being issued, statewide, and campfires are not permitted on state land.

""If people want to have a campfire on their own property, that's legal, but use good common sense. Put the fire in a mason or metal fire circle and don't leave it unattended. If you do leave a fire, make sure it's dead out with water," McKenzie said.

For the most part, citizens have respected the burning ban, Krzycki said.

"They're (citizens) just not burning," Krzycki said. "I've had to issue a few warnings but for the many miles I've traveled lately and for as dry as it's been, people are being respectful and cautious and paying attention to the fire danger."

Article published Sunday, April 17, 2005

Wildfire advisory issued for Ohio until rain arrives

Ohio is under a wildfire advisory until the state receives a significant amount of rain, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said.

Last week in Michigan, Bedford Township Fire Chief John Bofia imposed a ban throughout the township on open burning because of the dry conditions and heightened fire danger that prompted a statewide ban Wednesday on all public lands.

In Ohio, residents are being urged to be extra cautious because of dry grass, warm temperatures, low humidity, and high winds.

“A carelessly tossed cigarette or even the smallest unattended fire can lead to large wildfires, threatening not only fields, forests, and wildlife, but also people and their homes,” said John Dorka, Ohio DNR forestry division chief.

The ODNR asked people to postpone any unnecessary burning and limit use of equipment that gives off sparks, such as cutting torches. Ohio averages about 1,000 wildfires a year that consume nearly 6,000 acres of forest and grassland.

Chief Bofia’s order prohibits open burning of debris in the township. Bedford Township has a burning ordinance that allows local residents to burn yard debris and other items on weekend days until 6 p.m.

The Toledo area has recorded just over a half-inch of precipitation this month, compared to the April average of 3.24 inches.

Michigan has had more than 150 wildfires that have burned 610 acres, authorities said.

Posted on Sun, Apr. 17, 2005 

Wildfire erupts, quickly put out

A fire swept over a swampy area where White Bear Township, Dellwood and Grant meet Friday night, but no one was injured, authorities said.

The blaze was reported at 9:15 p.m. and put out by 10:05 p.m., the Washington County sheriff's office said. The area of the fire is roughly bounded by Grenelefe Avenue in Grant on the east, Portland Avenue in White Bear Township on the west, 117th Street in Grant on the north and a field to the south, said White Bear Lake Fire Rescue Capt. Paul Peltier.

The cause of the fire was unknown. No one was evacuated and no houses were damaged.

— Mara H. Gottfried

Fire crews contain rekindled wildfire

By MOLLY MURRAY and CHIP GUY / The News Journal

Sussex County firefighters scrambled Friday afternoon to the scene of Wednesday's sprawling woods fire to keep the rekindled blaze from spreading and damaging additional forest.

About 100 firefighters from nine companies responded to help control the fire's spread.

"When we got there, we went into a wall of smoke," said Jeff Evans, Millsboro fire chief. "We couldn't see the fire."

On Wednesday, an estimated 300 firefighters from 21 companies helped contain a larger version of the same woods fire in the rural area south of Georgetown and west of Millsboro.

Hot spots in the layer of duff - the dried leaves and branches that make up the floor of a forest - got a boost Friday from dry air and a strong northeast wind, said state forester Austin Short.

Despite the harsh conditions, fire crews were able to contain the damage Friday to five to six acres of woods in the Phillips Hill area, Evans said.

"It's the wind," Evans said, explaining why the fire is so hard to control and keep from reigniting. "Mother Nature's the only one that can put this out."

Evans and Short said it would take a soaking rain to put the fire out down to underground roots. Fire can travel just beneath the ground, feeding on dry leaves and branches and pockets of oxygen in the duff layer. It rises to the surface along roots.

The weather forecast for lower Delaware looks clear until Thursday, when thunderstorms are forecast. The strong winds are expected to continue through next week.

All this clear, dry weather along with the strong, northeast winds are part of the problem, as is the layer of dry, decomposing leaves and branches on the forest floor.

About noon Friday, Millsboro firefighters got a call that the blaze was again threatening the wooded area on Conaway Road/Sussex 431 between Phillips Hill and Careys Camp roads.

Wednesday's blaze burned an estimated 168 acres of privately owned forest, Short said. As many as three property owners may be impacted, he said.

"That's big for Delaware," he said.

The loblolly pine trees in the area were young, from 5 to 10 years old, and some will likely survive, Short said. But in areas where the damage was especially bad, some replanting will be needed.

Contact Molly Murray at 856-7372 or Contact Chip Guy at 856-7373 or

Active wildfire season predicted

4/15/2005, 12:43 a.m. PT The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Even with a normal amount of spring rain, severe drought conditions will extend across most of the Northwest, creating a lively wildfire season on both sides of the Cascades, according to a preliminary report prepared by the federal Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

Dead standing timber and logs typically take months to dry out and require the same amount of time to reclaim moisture, said Mike Fitzpatrick, the center's predictive services coordinator in Portland.

"When we get rain, it certainly will help," Fitzpatrick said. "But when we get extended drying like we've had, they tend to get dry through and through. It takes a considerable amount of time for them to moisten up."

The 2004 season was a calm one, largely because lightning strikes were followed by rain and cool weather. While no one knows if this summer's thunderstorms will be mostly wet or dry, an analysis of climate data since 1970 indicates a moderate to high probability of one to three episodes of lightning with no rain, the coordination center said.

Nationally, the fire danger looks to be greatest in Oregon, Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana because of extremely low snowpacks in the region, said Janelle Smith, spokeswoman for the Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center, which dispatches firefighters and equipment nationwide.

Despite the outlook, federal and state agencies plan to mobilize roughly the same number of firefighters, planes and engines as last year.

The state Department of Forestry is preparing for an active wildfire season, said John Boro, a manager with the agency's fire program.

"I don't necessarily say the sky is falling yet," he said. "Our obligation is to plan for that above-normal fire season."

Boro has seen some ominous signs. Before recent rains, controlled burns and small grass fires began to creep away into surrounding brush, an example of how dry it has been.

Also, crews that burn logging slash and set "prescribed fires" to clear brush have witnessed "total consumption on logs and large limbs" this spring, he said.

"It takes more than a week or two of periodic rain to make any effect on those large fuels," Boro said. "Not that I'm not enjoying looking out my window seeing it rain some."

Federal agencies will be able to draw on more than $1 billion in fire suppression funds this year — roughly the same amount as in 2004.

The federal government this summer plans to contract for use of seven P-3 air tankers, which dump loads of fire retardant. The fleet remains down from 2002, when the government canceled contracts to lease 33 air tankers after the National Transportation Safety Board raised safety questions.

The state forestry department will have its normal firefighting contingent in place, and between 280 and 300 private firefighting crews, each with 20 members, will be available for hire.

The state Department of Corrections also will provide more than 300 inmates to help battle blazes, and up to 7,400 Oregon National Guard soldiers and airmen will be available to pitch in if regular firefighting forces are depleted, Guard spokesman Capt. Mike Braibish said.

Eldred wildfire races across 10 acres

BY Kate Day Sager, The Times Herald
Firemen with volunteer companies from Pennsylvania and New York fought a large wildfire Thursday that burned over 10 acres and a couple of dozen hardwood trees in the Moody Hollow area south of Route 446 in Eldred Township.
The fire came one day before McKean County Commissioners officially will issue a ban on burning in the county due to dry conditions.

Dave Crowe, chief of the Eldred Township Volunteer Fire Department, said 50 to 70 firefighters fought the fire from approximately 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.

A few residents also assisted with the fire fight and there were no injuries reported.

Mr. Crowe said he believed the fire started when an individual was burning rags in a burn barrel near a drilling rig. He said the fire spread to the dry ground cover and burned into the woods.

“The conditions are just right now for fires like this if people are out burning,” Mr. Crowe said. “It’s really dry up in the woods.”
He said it is believed the burned property is owned by the Collins Pine Co. of Kane. It appeared that trees had been cut out of that area because there were a lot of tree tops on the ground that caught on fire, he said.

Mr. Crowe said firemen carried Indian water cans up the hill to fight the fire and chainsaws were used to cut trees and make a fire line.

“We had 10 utility trucks up there and they all had water tanks on them,” Mr. Crowe said.

He said there was no threat to any homes in the area but firemen staged a hard fight to keep the fire from traveling further up the hill and going down into another valley known in west Eldred.

Mr. Crowe said a forest fire suppression team from the Pennsylvania Forestry Department remained at the site after the volunteer fire departments left to make sure the hot spots were completely squelched.

A dispatcher with the McKean County 911 emergency center said Pennsylvania fire departments that assisted Eldred Township included the Smethport, Port Allegany, Eldred Borough, Otto Township, Rew, Hilltop, Derrick City, Lafayette Township, and Knapps Creek departments. Fire departments from New York that assisted were from the Town of Olean, Portville and Weston’s Mills. The Eldred ambulance department also was on the scene.

Officials with Cameron County issued a ban on burning this week and Potter County will consider the measure today.
The last ban on burning in McKean County took place in 1999 and was in effect for 30 days, officials said.
©The Times Herald, Olean, N.Y. 2005
Northwest heads for heated wildfire season

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Northwest faces what could be one of its worst wildfire seasons in years, but the military presence in Iraq means that forestry officials might not be able to call on their states' National Guard units as much as they'd like.

    Wildland fires burned more than 155,000 acres in 2004 across Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, and this year, a preliminary outlook shows above-normal fire potential in the region because of a run of unusually dry weather.

    "The Pacific Northwest, including northern Idaho and western Montana, has pretty serious water and fuel issues, so the folks in those states are being wise to look at preplanning," said Rose Davis, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

    Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer already has asked the Pentagon to free up some of his state's 1,500 National Guard troops still on active duty because of the war. Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said he couldn't do that, but he promised help from other states if Mr. Schweitzer asks for it.

    U.S. operations in Iraq have stripped Montana of its 12 UH-60 Black Hawks, which played critical roles in 2003, when wildfires in Montana burned more than 736,800 acres.

    The Black Hawks in the past were fitted with 600-gallon buckets to drop water on fires, said Maj. Scott Smith, a Guard spokesman. An option this year could be to use the Guard's four CH-47 Chinook helicopters, capable of carrying 2,000-gallon buckets -- but first, flight engineers will have to be trained to serve on each four-person crew.

    Oregon Gov. Theodore R. Kulongoski has asked for an assessment of the National Guard resources that will be available during the 2005 fire season.

    The bulk of Oregon's 8,000-plus National Guard troops have returned from overseas deployments. Its five Chinook helicopters have been deployed to Afghanistan, but 12 Black Hawk helicopters could be readily available, said Capt. Mike Braibish, spokesman for the Oregon National Guard.

    Most of Washington's 8,200 National Guardsmen will be available. However, the 81st Armor Brigade has been trickling back from Iraq, and the state's adjutant general has asked that it be the last deployed to fight fires.

    "Our last resort would be to call upon the services of someone who recently returned from Iraq," said Master Sgt. Jeff Clayton, a National Guard spokesman at Camp Murray.

April 16, 2005

Brush fire mushrooms fast

Major roads in West Melbourne temporarily closed; no injuries


Response. Firefighters set up hoses Friday afternoon at a brush fire in West Melbourne. Personnel from several agencies were on hand to battle the 40-acre blaze behind the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Palm Bay Road. Craig Bailey, FLORIDA TODAY
Enlarge this image


 West Melbourne brush fire

WEST MELBOURNE - Firefighters from three local agencies battled a fast-moving fire that hugged Wal-Mart Supercenter's parking lot for more than two hours Friday.

Initially reported as a quarter-acre blaze in a ranch on the north side of the store, the fire spread to 40 acres over several hours.

No one was injured, but sections of Eber and Hollywood boulevards were closed to traffic while Brevard County Fire-Rescue and firefighters from Melbourne and Palm Bay tried to knock down the flames.

"The problem we're having is the high wind," Brevard Fire-Rescue spokesman Orlando Dominguez said.

Gusts of up to 30 mph pushed ash and smoke southward over Palm Bay Road, and kept firefighters rushing to stay ahead.

The smoke showed up as a thin plume on Melbourne's National Weather Service radar.

Wal-Mart store manager Jeff Milz said customers were allowed to stay or leave the store during the height of the blaze but did new customers were not allowed into the parking lot.

The fire spread westward close to the store's north face, where merchandise deliveries are received.

"Around 2 p.m., somebody had seen some smoke in the parking lot, and the management team came out," Milz said. "The building at no time was in any danger."

Personnel got the fire under control by 4 p.m., but hot spots continued to spew smoke and ash onto Wal-Mart customers.

Jackie Bomba and Rob Rivamonte, who set up a fundraising table with two young players from the Brevard Lakers' 9-and-under basketball team, said they decided to brave the smoke.

"We heard about it before we got here, but we're trying to raise money to go to nationals," Bomba said.

"It's just smoky and ashy, but it's clearing up," Rivamonte said.

Contact Thompson at 242-3724 or


Wildfire Prompts Evacuation in Wyoming
Sunday, April 17, 2005
FORT WASHAKIE, Wyo. — A large wildfire bore down on this town of 250 on the Wind River Indian Reservation on Sunday, burning a vacant building and prompting a full evacuation.

No injuries were reported.

The fire was at least five miles long along the banks of the Little Wind River, according to R.J. Shakespeare, chief medical officer with the Fort Washakie Fire Department.

"It's right on the inside of town," he said.

The burned building was the former Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters for the reservation, which has been vacant for several years. Other buildings in the BIA compound on the edge of town were unscathed, but much of the north end of town was shrouded in smoke.

All roads into Fort Washakie were closed, including U.S. 287. The fire went under the U.S. 287 bridge at the river, according to a witness, Ernie Over, of Lander.

Ivan Posey, chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, said the flames were being fueled by thick vegetation in the river bottom and 25-mph wind gusting to 35 mph.

Brush fire threatens homes


A pillar of smoke, above, could be seen for miles Monday afternoon as a brush fire burned through a wooded area near Gregory Avenue in Nassauville. The fire, burned more than 40 acres before it was extinguished around 5 p.m. No structures were damaged and no injuries resulted from the fire. Photos by Wilkes Helicopter Service/For the News-Leader

A brush fire burned more than 40 acres and threatened nearby homes in Nassauville Monday afternoon before firefighters brought it under control, thanks in part to breezy weather.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire in a wooded area off Gregory Avenue.

Trash burning is suspected as the cause of the blaze that erupted around 2 p.m., said county fire Chief Chuck Cooper.

He said firefighters were concerned that residents in homes less than 30 feet from the blaze would have to evacuate, but "luckily, Mother Nature helped out a lot," he said. Winds blew the fire away from the homes and toward a nearby marsh.

"If (the wind) had taken a more westerly approach, it could have been a more dangerous situation," he said.

Fernandina Beach resident Carrie Fettig was visiting a friend on Mobley Heights Road when she saw the pillar of smoke in the distance.

"I didn't think much of it," she said. "I figured someone was clearing some land out there."

Twenty-one firefighters from Nassau County Fire-Rescue, the Nassauville Volunteer Fire Department, the Yulee Fire Department and the Florida Division of Forestry worked for three hours to extinguish the fire.

By the time it was out, Cooper estimates the fire burned 45 acres.

Cooper said the drought severity index in Nassau County is currently low, but other conditions make burning potentially dangerous.

"A lot of debris is still around from the hurricanes, and it's been dried by the sun ... and the winds we've been having lately have been moving fast," he said.

According to Jean Bowen of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Forestry, the burning of garbage is not legal. Burning of yard waste is legal with certain restrictions. Questions regarding authorization for burning can be directed to the Division of Forestry's Bryceville office at (904) 266-5001.

Restrictions for burning yard waste

Yard waste is defined by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Forestry as vegetative matter resulting from landscaping and yard maintenance. Examples include shrub trimmings, grass clippings, trees and tree stumps.

Authorization is not required to burn yard trash, as long as the following conditions are met:

-- The burning does not create a nuisance or health hazard.

-- The burning takes place at least 100 feet from any occupied building other than that owned or leased by the person doing the burning and 50 feet from any residence on the property where the burning is being done, 50 feet from any public highway or road and 25 feet from any woodland, forest or brush.

-- The fire must be attended at all times.

-- Adequate fire fighting equipment must be available at all times.

-- Moisture content and composition shall be favorable to burning.

-- The burning must take place in a non-combustible container or a pit in the ground, and it must be covered by a metal grill or mesh.

-- Burning is to be done in daylight hours.

Story created Apr 20, 2005 - 15:42:16 PDT.

Dozens Flee Wisconsin Forest Fire
Friday, May 06, 2005

BIG FLATS, Wis. — A blaze that started as a brush fire burned at least 20 buildings -- and maybe as many as 50 -- and forced dozens to flee as it spread over almost 4,000 acres in central Wisconsin state Natural Resources Secretary Scott Hassett said Friday.

Authorities had no reports of major injuries from the fire, which broke out Thursday afternoon in Big Flats (just north of the Adams-Friendship area. Nearly 100 people fled a 100-square-mile area, and the destroyed properties included summer cabins, year-round homes and trailers, Hassett said.

The blaze was not deliberately set, Hassett said, but he did not reveal the cause. Firefighters contained it overnight.

"This is the biggest pine forest fire in about 20 years," said Hassett, who did not immediately have an estimate of the damage.

Jackie Jones, 44, believes the fire destroyed her house because she had to drive through a "rolling ball of fire" just to escape. She said at one point, ashes falling from the sky looked like snow.

"God bless us, we're here. We lost probably everything," she said.

Gov. Jim Doyle, who surveyed the damage by helicopter Friday, said he saw many houses still standing. He later met with families evacuated from the area, near where a tornado killed two people and destroyed homes in 1994.

Posted on Fri, May. 06, 2005
Wisconsin forest fire destroys 15 homes

Associated Press

BIG FLATS, Wis.A fast-moving forest fire destroyed 30 homes and forced dozens to flee as it spread to almost 4,000 acres before being contained overnight, officials said Friday.

No major injuries were reported.

The wind-whipped fire - described as the largest wildfire in Wisconsin in 25 years - swept across nearly 3,900 acres, destroying 30 permanent and seasonal homes, at least 30 camper trailers and about 60 sheds or similar structures, Big Flats Fire Chief Dick Meyers said. About 125 families were evacuated, and about two dozen spent the night at an elementary school.

The total loss will be in the millions of dollars, said David Weitz, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

More than 200 homes and businesses lost electricity as the flames consumed utility poles, damaged transformers and burned at least 25 miles of power lines.

The blaze in rural Adams County began Thursday when a landowner started a small fire to clear grass before building a campfire, said Steve Courtney, a Natural Resources incident commander.

Along with the homes, the fire destroyed camper-trailers and other outbuildings, Fire Chief Dick Meyers said. Gov. Jim Doyle, who surveyed the damage by helicopter, said he saw many houses still standing.

Jackie Jones, 44, said she had to drive through a "rolling ball of fire" to escape and saw ashes falling from the sky like snow.

"God bless us, we're here. We lost probably everything," she said.

Some people reported seeing flames shooting 120 feet into the air, said Trent Marty, head of the state's forest protection bureau.

After his helicopter tour, the governor met with families evacuated from the area, near where a tornado killed two people and destroyed homes in 1994.

"They are all very anxious right now to get back in there and see what happened," he said.

Jeanne Surlaski, 53, wiped away tears after learning Friday that her house had been spared, as it was during the tornado 11 years ago. "I was lucky again," she said.

Firefighters Gain Against Southern California Wildfires

The worst danger from California's first major wildfires of the season seemed to have subsided Friday, but officials said the blazes should serve as a reminder of what's to come in the region, where heavy winter rains spawned enormous vegetation growth.

"We're in for a hot, dangerous year," California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said as he toured burned out homes.

Winds that had spread the largest fire eased, allowing firefighters to get the Morongo Valley blaze about 50 percent contained. The 3,022-acre fire began Wednesday and destroyed six homes and one other structure in the San Bernardino County desert community of Morongo Valley. Full containment was expected by 8 a.m. Saturday.

"It's laid down a lot. It's just burning in on itself," said Malinda Feistner, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department-California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

More than 1,000 firefighters were fighting flames and patrolling the edges of the blaze. They had about seven miles of fireline to cut to encircle the fire, Feisner said.

One firefighter suffered a knee injury.

Another fire, about 35 miles away in the San Jacinto area of Riverside County, remained at 2,080 acres and was 60 percent contained. No homes were in the vicinity.

A stiff breeze was blowing the fire back on itself, said Mike Mohler of the Riverside County Fire Department-CDF.

More than 900 firefighters were cutting a fire line and patrolling the hilly canyon country. One firefighter was pulled from the line after twisting a knee and another was removed because of abdominal pain that may have been cramps from heat exhaustion, Mohler said.

In the Mojave Desert community of Morongo Valley, 100 miles east of Los Angeles, those who fled wind-driven flames a day earlier recounted their ordeals.

Kim Haro, 52, said that when she learned of the fire she immediately thought of the nearly 30 horses penned on her 5-acre ranch.

After shuttering her cabinet shop, she rushed home and found a chaotic scene.

Spooked by the flames, her horses were charging across her property and down roads as friends and neighbors tried to round them up.

"It was six, seven feet of flame and you couldn't see through the smoke," said Haro.

She and her husband, Dan, took a ring that belonged to his mother, their horse registration papers and a box of pictures as they fled.

By morning, Haro learned that all the horses had survived.

"They're all OK, except for a few singe marks and burned tails," she said.

Not so for he goats, which perished inside a pen. Her property was also heavily damaged.

Though flames spared the main house, they gutted a rental cabin, trailer and some stables.

Across the street from the Haros, neighbor Lisa Trowbridge said she realized the danger when she smelled smoke and saw ashes falling from the sky.

She, her four daughters and niece, packed up dogs, cats, chickens, family photos and fled.

"Nothing else mattered at that point," Trowbridge said.

Her husband, Hap, said he was helping the Haros hose down their property when a juniper tree burst into flames and a fireball exploded toward him.

"I was running, a full-bore run. The flames were racing right behind me," he said.

He said he watered trees on both properties through the night, all the while making sure he had an escape route.

"The flames, the smoke, the wind - all three things hit you and you know that you're it. There's nobody else to save you. It was a very scary feeling. And I don't scare easily."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 


Town in danger as 19 wildfires blaze across seven states


A WILDFIRE that quadrupled in size within a few hours was yesterday threatening to engulf a small town in Utah.

The blaze grew from 2,000 to 8,000 acres in less than 12 hours and was about three miles from New Harmony, according to fire officers.

It was one of 19 separate fires covering about 500,000 acres across seven American states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Many were started by lightning strikes.

In Utah, fires forced the closure of the main road between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

As the flames crept ever closer to New Harmony, Lea Twitchell and her family were preparing for the possibility of having to flee from their home. However, Mrs Twitchell's thoughts were with her son, Luke, a first-year firefighter tackling a blaze in southern Utah.

"He just started on that crew, and I'm a little nervous because we haven't heard from him," she said.

The flames were nearing the a ridge visible from their house and the family have been told to leave if it reached the top.

"At church today, the bishop told us all to go home and get our valuables together, just in case," Mrs Twitchell said.


EVACUATED! Wildfires push out New Harmony area residents - UTAH

New Harmony was evacuated Monday evening at about 7 p.m. as the Blue Springs Fire engulfed the mountains south of town and made a run toward homes.

Although several homes were still threatened, fire officials confirmed at 11:10 p.m. that no houses had been lost to the fire.

Fire crews from cities and towns throughout Iron and Washington counties were stationed near the structures to fight the oncoming blaze Monday night. Those residents who had not yet evacuated loaded cars and flatbed trailers with personal belongings while others placed sprinklers around their homes to help ward off the flames.

Ryan Riddle, acting fire management officer for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said structure protection crews were briefly pulled out of the Harmony Heights area late Monday night for safety reasons because of the massive amount of smoke pouring into the valley. Iron and Washington county sheriff's deputies were on hand to evacuate any remaining residents if the threat became imminent. An evacuation center was in place at Canyon View Middle School in Cedar City.

Residents were notified of the evacuation order Monday during a 7 p.m. meeting at the New Harmony Fire Station. John Smith, of the Mountain Springs subdivision near I-15 exit 40, said it was hard to know what to take as his family fled.

They planned to take their dogs, cats and bunnies, but they had to leave some livestock behind.

Jody MacLee and her husband, Stewart, also of Mountain Springs, spent the day packing up items they said cannot be replaced, such as photos and documents.

Stewart was not very concerned about the fire as of 8 p.m. Monday.

"My husband is staying; I'm leaving," Jody said. "It looks likes it's past us, but fire is unpredictable. You definitely don't mess with Mother Nature." The MacLees also documented everything in their home with a video camera for insurance purposes. Other residents used digital cameras for the same reason.

Interstate 15, which was closed twice during the weekend because of the Blue Springs Fire, remained open Monday night. The fire has burned about 10,000 acres since lightning ignited it Saturday afternoon in the Dixie National Forest west of I-15, exit 27 at Anderson Junction. From the interstate Monday night, much of the mountain south of New Harmony appeared to be on fire.

Meanwhile, the Halfway Fire - which has burned more than 100,000 acres in Nevada - was nearing the Utah border west of Motoqua. The fire was actively burning, but was still several miles from Motoqua, said David Boyd, a fire information officer, Monday afternoon.

Fire engines from the Westside Complex Fire were reassigned for structure protection in Motoqua, which was on a one-hour evacuation alert Monday night. The Westside Complex Fire, which prompted an evacuation alert for Gunlock on Saturday, had burned more than 68,000 acres by Monday but, was expected to be contained by Tuesday evening.

The hot, dry and windy conditions prompted a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service for much of the state of Utah. Dry lightning storms also were forecast for Monday night, causing concern among fire officials.

Large amounts of cheat grass and other vegetation has created abundant fuel for wildfires. Fire officials warn that even a small spark could set fire to the dry fuels.

Craig Harding, St. George Police Department spokesman, asked residents to use caution with lit cigarettes and other objects that might start fires.

There also have been many occurrences of illegal burning in the area, Harding said. The burn season is limited to four months during the year: March, April, September and October.

Though no burning is currently allowed, many residents still think they have the right to burn weeds or garbage on their own property.

"You can't burn; period," Harding said.

Originally published June 28, 2005

Wildfires rage in Arizona

Thursday, June 30, 2005 (Phoenix):
A blaze in rugged central Arizona had grown to 152,000 acres Wednesday and concern shifted to three communities surrounded by pine forest that could find themselves in harm's way.

The fire was burning about 20 miles southwest of the mountain communities of Pine and Strawberry, and 12 miles from the point when evacuations may be necessary.

It was as close as six miles to Black Canyon City, a community of 4,500 about 45 miles north of Phoenix, but wasn't considered an imminent threat to structures there.

The lightning-sparked blaze was about 20 percent contained, fire officials said.

Authorities said if the fire crosses the Verde River, it could race into Pine and Strawberry, site of numerous vacation homes.

The National Interagency Fire Center said Wednesday there were 22 active large fires burning across more than 905,000 acres in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. (AP)

Jul 1, 2005 5:41 pm US/Mountain

Desert Tortoise Threatened By Southwest Wildfires

Wildfires burning in the Southwest are threatening federally protected desert tortoises, further stressing a species that already has lost much of its population to drought.

At least two of the animals died this week and more could turn up as biologists search the charred landscape.

“I think these fires are going to put a lot of pressure on local populations and we’re going to be faced with some challenges,” said Roy Averill-Murray, desert tortoise recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The tortoise, which was placed on the federal threatened species list 25 years ago, roams across millions of acres in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah and is considered an indicator of the health of the desert environment. Tortoise deaths have been linked to invasions of noxious weeds, drought, loss of desert land to development and predation by other animals.

A government report three years ago said it was difficult to come up with an accurate number of living tortoises, mainly because the habitat stretches across a four-state area. That also makes it difficult to know if the $100 million plus spent by the government to help the species make a comeback was working.

But wildfires are definitely not helping.

In Nevada, firefighters on Friday said huge blazes burning in a vast area inhabited by desert tortoise and bighorn sheep were about half contained.

Among the many fires that burned tens of thousands of acres in southwestern Utah in the last week was one that burned in the middle of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

The 61,000-acre preserve in the southwestern corner of the state with scenic red rock cliffs and lava flows provides prime habitat for about 1,700 Mojave Desert tortoises, officials for the private reserve estimated. Just three years ago, before drought took its hold on the state, there were an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 tortoises on the reserve.

The extent the 3,000-acre reserve fire will be difficult to measure. Biologists will scour the area, looking for survivors or remains.

Bekee Megown, a fire biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Friday two turtles were known to have died in the fire, but at least three survivors had been found.

“That’s very encouraging,” she said.

Animals that burrowed deep enough into the ground were probably safe from the fire, but tortoises in shallow burrows or out in the open had little chance of survival.

“The problem is when these big fires start they burn throughout the day,” said Bill Mader, administrator of the Red Cliffs Reserve. “They burn real quickly and so if the tortoise is caught in that they’re doomed.”

Nonnative species such as cheatgrass, which spreads easily when seeds are blown by passing cars, have been overtaking areas in the West. The plants provide little nutrition for animals and grow rapidly, making for wide patches of quick-burning wildfire fuel.

Southwest Utah had an unusually wet spring and late snow melt, providing plenty of fuel as vegetation dried out in 90-degree June temperatures. The fires were usually started by lightning strikes.

“Lightning has been striking the Mojave Desert for longer than the tortoise has been there. The new factors are the grasses that lightning has sparked,” Averill-Murray said.

U.S. Forest Service fire spokesman David Olson, who got a firsthand look at the damage at the reserve Thursday, said the fire burned thick swaths of tall cheatgrass in places on the reserve, but the persistent vegetation left plenty of seeds behind.

“On the ground, dirt level there was very thick concentration of seeds,” Olson said. “If you were looking at reseeding your lawn or reseeding an area, you would be saying this is excellent. Unfortunately, this is the worst.”

(© 2005 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. 

Posted on Sat, Jul. 02, 2005

Firefighters struggle with wildfires


- Firefighters used a combination of air power and intentional fires on Friday to try to block the progress of a mammoth wildfire that has been creeping toward a central Arizona community.

Crews used heavy air tankers to drop retardant to reinforce previously created fire lines, some gouged in the ground by bulldozers. They then set fires inside the lines to burn vegetation in the path of the nearly 200,000-acre fire.

"We're trying to let the fire meet us on our terms, not on the fire's terms," said John Bear, a spokesman for the fire crews.

The fire has moved out of mountain terrain and into flatter country east of Black Canyon City.

, a community of 4,500 north of Phoenix. It was burning about three miles east of the town Friday.

Precautionary evacuations were advised for two ranches in the Black Canyon City area late Thursday because of smoke but officials said the residents didn't leave. No large-scale evacuations were planned.

The blaze began as two lightning-sparked fires on June 21 near Cave Creek; within days it had forced the evacuations of some 250 homes northeast of Phoenix. Eleven homes and three storage sheds were destroyed in that area before the fire moved on.

The National Interagency Fire Center said Friday that 23 active large fires were burning across nearly 1 million acres in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

In Nevada, firefighters stopped wildfires short of a railroad town in the southern part of the state and said huge blazes burning in a vast area inhabited by federally protected desert tortoises were about half contained.

At least two of the animals died this week and more could turn up as biologists search the charred landscape.

"I think these fires are going to put a lot of pressure on local populations and we're going to be faced with some challenges," said Roy Averill-Murray, desert tortoise recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Associated Press Writers Amanda Keim in Black Canyon City and Doug Alden in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

Western Wildfires

California fire contained

PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) - Firefighters have been able to contain a blaze near Palmdale, California -- but not without some anxious moments.

The fire crept close to several homes before crews got the upper hand. It had grown to about 12-hundred acres -- with the help of winds of 15 to 20 miles an hour.

No evacuations were ordered in the community about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

Firefighters are still at work on a blaze in the San Bernardino National Forest. The 100-acre fire forced the evacuation of 12-hundred children from campgrounds yesterday.

In southern Nevada, firefighters are concentrating on one remaining blaze as they wrap up a two-week effort to stop wildfires sparked by lightning.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

 Thursday, July 7, 2005

Wildfires in Oregon help speed demise of the spotted owl
Population is at all-time low in central part of state


BEND, Ore. -- The spotted owl population is at an all-time low in central Oregon after several summers of intense wildfires across the region.

The fires of the last few years, such as the B&B Fire of 2003 and the Eyerly Fire of 2002, obliterated at least 19 nests from Sisters to Crescent, leaving public land managers and wildlife officials to juggle wildfire risk with spotted owl habitat protection.

The threatened owls, protected under the Endangered Species Act, thrive in areas that wildfire managers consider the highest risk.

Crowded tree stands with dead snags, thick clusters and multiple layers of vegetation are ideal both for owls and for fueling major fires, said Laurie Turner, biologist for the Deschutes National Forest.

"The remaining owl habitat we have is very valuable, and so we have to leave some of those places, even with their wildfire risk," Phil Cruz, district ranger of the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District. "We're doing everything we can to protect and armor those areas."

Thinning and logging projects are being done around -- but not in -- spotted owl habitat, to safeguard the species.

Also, when officials plan a timber sale, they must survey the area for owl nests before logging, in compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the Northwest Forest Plan.

And when they plan to restore burned areas that were once full of old-growth trees and home to spotted owls, they must try to achieve that same quality of forest, even though it could take 200 years, said Jim Stone, a habitat specialist from the Crescent Ranger District.

Spotted owls have declined for at least 15 years, said Eric Forsman, a biologist with the Pacific Northwest Research station in Corvallis.

Most spotted owl habitat exists west of the Cascades in old-growth fir stands. But owls also appear to thrive on the dry side of the mountains, Forsman said.

The owls have hatched more young in east side forests than in west side ones, according to a recent study Forsman worked on. That study compared reproduction rates between the Wenatchee National Forest in Central Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.

The results showed owls on the east side hatched an average of slightly more than one baby owl per year; owls on the west side hatched less than one baby owl per year.

2 Wildfires Contained, But Omak Fire Up To 3,800 Acres

July 7, 2005
By KOMO Staff & News Services

OMAK - Two of Washington state's three wildfires were reported contained Thursday while the third, near Omak, nearly doubled - to 3,800 acres, fire officials said.

The Omak-area blaze, mostly burning on Colville Indian reservation land, covered just 2,000 acres Wednesday. About 380 firefighters were working that blaze, and had it 50 percent contained by Thursday afternoon, said Marc Hollen at the Northwest Interagency Incident Coordination Center in Portland, Ore.

A 530-acre fire burning grass, sagebrush and timber near Winthrop was declared 100 percent contained Thursday, Hollen said. About 60 of the 300 firefighters who worked that blaze had been sent home, and more were to be let go over the next 24 hours, Hollen said.

A fire on the northwest corner of the Hanford nuclear reservation charred 5,000 acres of grass and sagebrush before it was contained Wednesday evening, Hollen said. Some of the 31 firefighters had been sent home from that fire at the Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge near Mattawa.

No injuries were reported in the fires, and the causes were undetermined.

 Wildfires Burn Across So Cal

A wind-whipped brush fire crept close to several homes Wednesday before crews got the upper hand, one of a handful of blazes around Southern California, officials said

Fanned by 15 to 20 mph wind, the fire near the desert town of Palmdale, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles, grew to 1,200 acres Wednesday before it was contained by a force of hundreds of firefighters, Los Angeles County fire officials said.

No evacuations were ordered but a handful of homes were threatened for a time.

"Luckily, the homeowners did outstanding brush clearing and no homes were lost," spokesman Mike McCormick told ABC7 Eyewitness News.

The cause was still under investigation, but McCormick said it seemed to have started near power lines.

In the San Bernardino National Forest, a 100-acre fire forced the evacuation of 1,200 children, some dressed only in swim suits and towels, from campgrounds on Tuesday, officials said.

No injuries were reported and the cause was under investigation. The blaze was 40 percent contained Wednesday.

In southern Nevada, a two-week battle to stop lightning-sparked wildfires neared an end as firefighters concentrated on one remaining blaze in an uninhabited area.

Meanwhile, a 1,000-acre brush fire caused by fireworks that broke out in Yorba Linda and spread into San Bernardino County was 25 percent contained and could be brought under control Thursday, authorities said. The blaze was reported shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday and quickly veered away from some 250 homes and spread into Chino Hills State Park, after growing more rapidly than firefighters anticipated, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Stephen Miller said.

Winds today nudged the fire a little toward Brea, but "I don't think we're anticipating it getting there," said Battalion Chief Doug Lannon of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"We're anticipating full containment about 8 p.m. tomorrow," Lannon said. Investigators said the blaze was started by "dangerous" fireworks. investigators "must have found some remnants" but Lannon said he didn't know what exactly was found.

Authorities continued looking for three boys seen running away soon after the fire broke out. All the boys were wearing T-shirts; two were in shorts and one was wearing blue jeans, Miller said.

"We want to interview them," Miller said.

The fire is burning in an area rich with wildlife, including many rattlesnakes and beehives, which are causing firefighters to have to be wary, Lannon said.

The fire continues to burn away from Yorba Linda, but hot spots remain there, Lannon said.

Anyone with information about the fire was asked to call an anonymous tip line at (800) 540-8282.

Copyright © 2005 KABC-TV and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

 Colorado watches wildfires fearfully

WETMORE, Colo. -- Jerome Weigel had a restless night looking out his bedroom window at flames over a ridge near his 240-acre ranch.

"I was up a 1 o'clock looking, 3 o'clock looking, and then the damn alarm went off," said Weigel, 75, as he watched the 2,000-acre Mason Fire from his front yard Saturday with friends from the tight-knit community.

"When one has a problem we all have a problem. That's just the way this community is," said Ruth Sparr, 69.

Fire crews were stationed throughout the Greenwood community 25 miles west of Pueblo, about 100 miles south of Denver. About 50 homeowners had been told to leave.

More crowning and torching was expected as temperatures rose in the afternoon, said fire behavior specialist Bob Irvine. Temperatures in the 90s and humidity of about 12 percent helped fan the flames as a high pressure system blocked the monsoon rains that often fall in July. By midday officials estimated 1 percent of the fire was contained.

About 400 people were fighting the fire, aided by 30 engine tankers, three type I air tankers, four single-engine air tankers and three helicopters.

"As you drive through you think what could be burning? It looks pretty green. The fuels have not recovered from the drought. What you are seeing is what can happen," said fire incident commander Marc Mullenix.

"One year of good moisture cannot overcome a long-term drought. The fuel moistures are still extremely low," said Irvine, who said they were close to the moisture levels seen in the disastrous wildfire year of 2002.

Meanwhile, the fire also had entered Pueblo County, where about 40 houses were put on alert and told to make preparations in case they needed to be evacuated.

Bill Mauger, 73, of nearby Beulah, and his wife, Dee, 71, watched the fire climbing ridgelines. "We could see the trees explode," said Bill Mauger, who was snapping photos of the fire. "You could hear crackling and smoke come off the trees. It was like a bomb going off."

The Maugers said they could relate to the Greenwood homeowners because they were on alert to evacuate during the 2002 Hayman fire.

"When you live by the pines and see this, you think it can happen to you," said Bill Mauger.

Dee Mauger said she was worried the wind would shift and send the fire towards Beulah. "It can easily come over any ride in any direction. A fire is the worst thing that can happen to this community," she said.

Three other large wildfires are burning across the state, but officials are treating them as prescribed fires. More than a thousand acres in Rio Blanco County, 800 in Naturita Ridge, near the San Migel and Montrose County lines, and 250 acres in Pack Trial near Meeker, Colo. are being watched closely by fire officials.

"A wildfire use fire is like a prescribed fire started by Mother Nature," said Jen Chase, fire information officer for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.

Fire fighters won't actively suppress the fires unless they cross certain boundaries set by officials before the fire season began.

Associated Press Writer Kim Nguyen in Wetmore contributed to this story.

  Unusual number of wildfires scorch Alaska coast Fri Jul 8, 2005 8:43 PM BST

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - Rising temperatures in Alaska have sparked an unusual number of storms along the state's south-central coast this summer, officials say, and the multitude of lightning strikes and resulting fires have burned more than 1 million acres .

In recent weeks, there have been thunderstorms nearly every day along the normally temperate south-central coastline, Sharon Alden, manager of Alaska's fire weather program, said in an interview this week.

So far this summer, there have been 13 lightning-sparked fires on the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, according to state reports. That compares with 12 lightning-sparked fires in the region between 1993 and 2004.

"I believe there is global warming, but what we're talking about isn't global warming. We're talking about regional warming," Alden said.

John See, a regional manager with the Alaska Division of Forestry, said there was increasing concern that the stormy weather and wildfires could indicate climate conditions have changed.

"It's certainly a change in the 25 years I've been in my position," See said. "If we see a continuation next year, certainly we're going to be concerned that it's a pattern."

In the coastal areas south of Anchorage, there is a concentration of dry, flammable timber left by a massive spruce-bark beetle infestation that "offers a real big resistance to suppressing fires," See said.

The region is also more heavily populated than hot and dry interior Alaska, where lightning-sparked fires are common, but often left to burn out on their own.

To cope with the extra workload, See said the state has transferred some firefighters from the northern region and called in reinforcements from outside the state.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Dozens Of Wildfires Rage In Portugal
Publicado - Published: 13/07/2005

LISBON, July 13.- Hundreds of firefighters were Tuesday battling dozens of wildfires in drought-stricken Portugal, news reports said.

More than 20 fires were active near Oporto alone. In the region of Gouveia, flames entered the Serra da Estrela nature park, where firefighters were hampered by difficult access.

Several people were reported injured in fires over the past few days. In 2003, Portugal´s worst recorded wildfires devastated 425,000 hectares of vegetation.

Wildfires were also plaguing neighbouring Spain, where seven fires raged near Orense in northwestern Galicia. Police suspected arson in many cases.

Thursday, July 14, 2005
50 N.H. firefighters head to Quebec to help fight wildfires

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Close to 50 firefighters from New Hampshire headed to Valdor, Quebec, on Wednesday for two weeks to help fight wildfires in the northern part of the Canadian province.

A crew of 21 state forest fire rangers and 25 members of local New Hampshire fire departments planned to join Maine and New York firefighters under the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact in the effort to control about 40 wildfires in Quebec.

Colombian volcano spews fire

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Volcanic eruption

BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) -- The Galeras volcano in southeastern Colombia shot fire early on Thursday in a small eruption, prompting the government to step up evacuations of about 9,000 people living nearby.

"There was an eruption," said government volcano expert Martha Calvache.

"People saw a sudden blaze from the volcano that was stronger than recent activity we saw in August and September."

People around the town of Pasto were urged to leave as pressure in the volcano grows.

Evacuations started last week in Narino province when scientists first warned an eruption was possible. Some residents said they were reluctant to abandon their farms and livestock.

Galeras had a small gas and ash eruption a year ago that started forest fires but caused no injuries. An eruption of the volcano in 1993 killed at least 10 people.

Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.+

Posted on Tue, Dec. 27, 2005

Fires at mission were arson, investigator says

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

ARLINGTON — The two fires that burned a Mission Arlington warehouse were set intentionally, a fire investigator said Tuesday.

No suspect has been identified in the Sunday and Monday blazes at Mission Arlington’s headquarters, 305 S. Oak St., fire investigator Keith Ebel said. The fires were about 12 hours apart.

There was no evidence of an accelerant used, but Ebel said he was able to rule out all accidental causes.

"We’re in the beginning stages of the investigation," he said. "We’re still interviewing witnesses and trying to figure out who saw what."

Both fires were in the same building; the first was downstairs and the second upstairs. Most of the damage was to the building’s contents, with fairly minor damage to the structure, Ebel said.

Mission Arlington provides a day shelter, food, clothing and job assistance to the poor, among other services. Executive director Tillie Burgin said she did not know who might want to do the organization harm.

"It’s always upsetting when people want to do wrong," Burgin said. "But the outpouring of public support has been amazing."

By mid-day Tuesday, mounds of donations were piling up under a tent near the scene of the fire. A line of cars packing trunks of clothes, sundries and toys backed up into the street as volunteers worked feverishly to unload them.

"Look at this," Burgin said, pointing to all the activity. "Based on the donations we’ve received yesterday and today, I want people to know that we are up and running."

Also online: Mission Arlington,

100 homes razed by fires in Africa

Winds drive devastation

December 27, 2005

By Fouzia Van Der Fort and Sipokazi Maposa

More than 100 homes were destroyed, many hectares of vegetation burnt, and a retirement home and a caravan park evacuated during raging fires across the Peninsula over the Christmas weekend.

Nearly 400 people were left homeless after three fires in Khayelitsha destroyed more than 150 shacks yesterday. A fire had broken out in the area on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Eve six upmarket houses were damaged beyond repair in a fire on the mountain above Camps Bay.

The city's Human Settlement Services registered more than 300 destitute residents at the Blue Hall in Khayelitsha.

Wilfred Solomons, spokesman for Disaster Risk Management, said the service was expecting more people to register when they returned from holiday to find their homes destroyed.

High temperatures and a strong south-easterly provided conditions conducive to runaway fires, and a number of veld fires raged across the Peninsula at the weekend.

By late yesterday some had been burning for more than three days, while at others, hotspots were being monitored to prevent flare-ups.

Firefighters and Cape Nature Conservation staff brought a fire in the Big Bay and Blouberg areas under control last night. It had been raging for three days.

The fire resulted in the closure of the R27, the busy West Coast road, where dense smoke had made conditions hazardous.

Residents of the Sea Park Home for the Elderly and a nearby caravan park were evacuated late on Christmas Day.

Four helicopters water-bombed the area and 22 fire engines battled to contain the blaze.

In Camps Bay, six houses were damaged beyond repair and several others were less severely damaged when a blaze swept across the western flank of Table Mountain.

City of Cape Town firefighters, Working on Fire staff as
well as Table Mountain National Park staff and volunteers responded to the emergency call just after 9am on

The fire spread rapidly in the wind, and Camps Bay Drive was closed to motorists.

Close to 250 firemen, 30 fire engines, three helicopters and volunteers fought to contain the fire, which they accomplished at about 3am on Sunday. The damaged homes were in Medburn Road, Hely Hutchinson Avenue, Prima Avenue and Trek Road.

A fireman was slightly injured when a falling tree branch struck his arm on Saturday. He was taken to hospital but released shortly afterward.

Piet Smith, chief fire officer for the City of Cape Town, said winds had rekindled fires at hotspots on the mountain.

Late yesterday, Table Mountain National Park staff were still monitoring the area for any flare-ups.

On Saturday, the lower cable station was closed and staff and visitors evacuated to Kloof Nek as flames swept to within 100m of the buildings. The cableway was not running at the time because of the wind.

Cableway chief John Harrison said it had taken an hour to get everyone and their vehicles away. After safety checks, the cableway was reopened yesterday.

Franceline Bosch, provincial co-ordinator for Working on Fire, said the organisation had attended to seven other weekend fires in the Western Cape Province - in Franschhoek, George, Bredasdorp, Piketberg and Ocean View - but all had been contained yesterday.

Carlton Sillis, forecaster at the Cape Town Weather Office, said the wind was expected to reach up to 50km/h later today, and it would be much the same tomorrow.

By Thursday it will begin moderating from the north, but will still be strong over the South Peninsula.

By late Friday it should be a moderate 25km/h, but Cape Point will remain windy, with a strong wind from the east/south-east.

On Saturday the wind is expected to pick up again to 50km/h. But the wind will moderate the temperature, which is expected to reach 29¼C on Thursday and 32¼C on Friday.

Grass Fires Char Eastern And Central Oklahoma
Grass fires driven by gusty winds have destroyed structures in Oklahoma, Rogers and Tulsa counties.

Firefighters from Berryhill, Sand Springs and Tulsa were busy Tuesday afternoon fighting a major blaze southwest of Tulsa near 51st Street South and 63rd West Avenue. The fire destroyed several buildings.

Rogers County firefighters were busy as well, fighting several fires near Talala and south of Oologah. At one point, US highway 169 was shut down because of smoke across the highway. Several structures have burned there as well.

Fires are also burning in Mustang in central Oklahoma. Fire officials says high winds and dry vegetation are fueling the fires.

Officials say several people have been injured in the Mustang fires.

A Red Flag fire alert remains in effect for the entire state. Fire officials say with the warm temperatures, low humidity and the wind, the danger of grass fires continues.




Wind-driven grass fires char parts of Texas, Oklahoma
KENNEDALE, Texas (AP) — Dozens of grass fires burned across an unusually warm and windy Texas on Tuesday, destroying homes, forcing evacuations, and prompting Gov. Rick Perry to deploy state firefighters and issue a disaster declaration.

Several fire departments fought high winds and dry conditions to respond to a grass fire that burned a home in Colleyville, Texas.

Perry's office said 73 fires were burning around the state as of Monday, mostly in North and Central Texas. His office didn't have an updated number Tuesday because the situation is "in flux." There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, but one state official said the outbreak was the state's worst in nearly a decade. (Related video: Texas grass fires)

"To better ensure our ability to immediately respond to these fast-moving fires, I have ordered the deployment of Texas Army National Guard assets and requested assistance from the U.S. Forest Service," Perry said in a statement.

One of the largest fires was in Kennedale, a bedroom community of about 6,100 people south of Fort Worth. Large plumes of white smoke rose above the town, where television footage showed homes damaged, and residents spraying hoses and dumping buckets of water on the flames.

Fort Worth Fire Department Lt. Kent Worley said the department was helping battle the blaze in Kennedale, which jumped U.S. Highway 287 and prompted officials to temporarily shut it down.

In nearby Arlington, fire threatened new housing developments and apartment complexes, and sent smoke pouring over a wide area.

Three Arlington firefighters were hospitalized with smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, said Battalion Chief David Stapp, who declared one of the fires contained.

"The smoke has just made the whole place out here just brown," said Kelli McKandless, a pro shop assistant with the Tierra Verde Golf Course in Arlington. "We're just watching it like anybody else is."

Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Traci Weaver said the wildfires were the state's worst since February 1996, when 141 structures and 16,000 acres were destroyed around Poolville, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth. Damage estimates probably won't be available until Wednesday, Weaver said.

In Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, a fire near Canyon Creek forced several evacuations, said Jerry Lind, chief deputy for the Hood County Sheriff's Office. He said several structures were on fire, and propane tanks have exploded.

Police and firefighters went door-to-door evacuating a subdivision of several hundred homes. Evacuees were being taken to churches, Hood County Sheriff's Office Lt. Billy Henderson said.

"It's pretty chaotic, but we're trying to do the best we can," he said.

North Texas was under a National Weather Service "red flag warning," meaning unusually warm and windy conditions could cause blazes to spread rapidly. The warning was issued because of strong winds, low humidity and extremely dry conditions.

Many of Texas' 254 counties are experiencing drought conditions after averaging just 21.5 inches of rain in the first 11 months of 2005, down from the norm of 26.

"It is just critically, critically dry out there right now," Weaver said.

There were also widespread grass fires in Oklahoma on Tuesday. (Related video: Oklahoma brushfires)

The biggest fire began near power lines in the town of Mustang, southwest of Oklahoma City, and traveled about two miles through a rural area including scattered homes before firefighters could bring it under control, Mustang Police Chief Monte James said. Authorities estimated the fire charred 400 acres and destroyed five homes.

"I think we finally got the fires under control," he said. "We've still got some hot spots that we're concerned about."

One firefighter was being treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation, he said.

Mustang City Manager David Cockrell said sparks from power lines may have caused the fire, but the cause remains under investigation.

"What can you do about it?" Pat Hankins, 62, said as he watched his one-story home burn. "You have no control."

Firefighters also put out grass fires in three areas of Oklahoma City Tuesday, Oklahoma City Fire Maj. Brian Stanaland said. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and a child suffered minor burns to his hands when a shed caught fire. That fire apparently was apparently started by children playing with fireworks, Stanaland said.

Video shot from news helicopters showed a blackened area of grass and brush in Mustang and no active flames by late Tuesday afternoon. Residents had been concerned the fire might spread further.

"Everybody is out now watering their yards and standing in their yards," said Harold Percival, who lives about a mile from the fire area. He said smoke from the fires had eased by late Tuesday afternoon. "It's clear as a bell now," he said.

An evacuation center was set up in Mustang for people who had been in the path of the fire.

Smoke from a separate grass fire limited visibility along Interstate 35 in southern Oklahoma near the Texas state line and forced authorities to close the highway south of Pauls Valley in Garvin County, said Kent Meeker of the Pauls Valley Fire Department. He said at least two structures were burning.

"We've got 15 to 20 trucks and 50 to 60 firefighters here," he said. "We've got to take care of the structures, then we've got to get the interstate open."

The Tulsa Fire Department responded to at least a dozen fires Tuesday, spokesman Capt. Larry Vowles said. The most severe was in the community of Oakhurst and destroyed three homes, one of which was vacant, and one barn.

Numerous fires were burning Tuesday night in Bryan County in southeastern Oklahoma, said Tim Cooke, the county's emergency management director.

"Our entire county is just about on fire," he said. "It's everywhere."

The worst of the county's fires was near Achille, Cooke said. That fire destroyed at least three structures and resulted in an unknown amount of injuries, mostly from smoke inhilation, he said. Authorities shut down a five-mile stretch of Oklahoma Highway 78 and parts of State Highway 91 because of the fire.

Wind gusts reached 40 mph in Oklahoma Tuesday and temperatures reached about 70 degrees at some locations.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Texas Gov Declares Grass Fires a Disaster
By MATT CURRY , 12.27.2005, 06:13 PM

Dozens of grass fires burned across an unusually warm and windy Texas on Tuesday, destroying homes, forcing evacuations, and prompting Gov. Rick Perry to deploy state firefighters and issue a disaster declaration.

Perry's office said 73 fires were being fought around the state as of Monday, mostly in North and Central Texas. His office didn't have an updated number Tuesday because the situation is "in flux." There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

"To better ensure our ability to immediately respond to these fast-moving fires, I have ordered the deployment of Texas Army National Guard assets and requested assistance from the U.S. Forest Service," Perry said in a statement.

One of the largest fires was in Kennedale, a bedroom community of about 6,100 people just south of Fort Worth. Large plumes of white smoke rose above the town. Television footage showed homes damaged, outbuildings in flames and residents spraying hoses and dumping buckets of water at the fire.

Fort Worth Fire Department Lt. Kent Worley said the department was helping battle the blaze in Kennedale, which jumped U.S. Highway 287 and prompted officials to temporarily shut it down.

In Arlington, fires threatened new housing developments and apartment complexes. Strong winds were the biggest obstacle for about 20 firefighters trying to contain the blaze, Deputy Fire Marshal Keith Ebel said.

"It's like trying to stop a 30-mile-per-hour car coming down the street," Ebel said. "The wind is the worst enemy right now."

Ebel said officials have expected wild fires because Texas has suffered through such a dry year.

"It was a matter of time this was going to happen," Ebel said. "By no means are we out of the woods. This fire's just occurred in one small area of town. We have a whole lot of other areas."

In Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, a fire near Canyon Creek forced at least 100 people to evacuate, said Jerry Lind, chief deputy for the Hood County Sheriff's Office. He said several structures were on fire, and propane tanks have exploded.

North Texas was under a National Weather Service "red flag warning," meaning unusually warm and windy conditions could cause blazes to spread rapidly. The warning was issued because of strong winds, low humidity and extremely dry conditions.

"We've got fires burning structures in several counties," said Tracy Weaver of the Texas Forest Service. "It is just critically, critically dry out there right now."

Cities where fires were reported included Colleyville, Boyd, Joshua and Denton. Blazes were also reported in counties including Parker, Hood and Tarrant.

The red flag alert was in effect until 8 p.m. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where winds were expected in the 20- to 30-mph range. A cold front moving through North Texas on Tuesday night will cool the region down, but only to the high 60s.

Perry's office said the wildfire threat level is expected to remain high for the next 30 days. According to the governor's office, 114 fires in 39 counties have burned 10,000 acres in Texas during December.

Perry's disaster declaration activates the state emergency management plan and authorizes the deployment of any forces, equipment or supplies required for the response.

The governor deployed four Texas Army National Guard helicopters, and obtained two air tankers and two helicopters from the U.S. Forest Service.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Fires kill at least four in Texas

12 counties in Oklahoma charred; no end in sight to dry conditions

Wednesday, December 28, 2005; Posted: 4:00 p.m. EST (21:00 GMT)
Investigators search the remains of a home destroyed by a fire in Cross Plains, Texas, on Wednesday.


(CNN) -- No immediate end appears in sight to the dry conditions fueling fires in tinder-dry Texas, where four people were killed, and Oklahoma on Wednesday.

Firefighters were battling swift-moving blazes in Texas, where the four people killed included a woman who was trying to douse her yard. The fires have charred more than 13,000 acres in central, north-central and northeast Texas.

"There is little or no chance of rain for the next several days," said Jack Colley, the chief of Texas Emergency Management Division, in a report about the fires. what fires did to parts of Texas -- 1:21)

"The problematic weather condition of high winds and low relative humidity levels forecast ... will produce extreme fire danger over most of the state," he said.

More than 100 buildings, including 78 homes, were destroyed Tuesday, said Colley. One of the most endangered areas is in Callahan County, about 125 miles west of Dallas, where a fire that started just outside the town of Cross Plains swept through homes and buildings.

As many as 50 homes in the town of 1,000 were destroyed, along with a church and several businesses, Colley said. Cross Plains, about 43 miles southeast of Abilene, has been entirely evacuated.

One rancher, Dean Dillard, told The Associated Press: "It looked like we had been bombed in a big war. The whole city was on fire everywhere."

Crews fought "very dense smoke and extreme fire behavior" while trying to control the blaze, Colley said.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared a disaster Tuesday, dispatching National Guard troops to battle the flames. (Full story)

Burn ban in Oklahoma

Perry is seeking help from other states, including two additional air tankers from the Louisiana National Guard and bulldozer crews from Florida to help build fire walls to contain the blazes.

In Oklahoma, authorities were reporting fires that have charred thousands of acres across 12 counties. No deaths have been reported in the state.

A statewide burn ban is in effect.

"Oklahomans are reminded that all outdoor burning is prohibited, and violations are misdemeanors punishable by as much as a $500 fine and one-year imprisonment," the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said.

Some helicopters were able to take off Wednesday, a day after gusty winds prevented them from flying and dropping water on the flames.

Just west of Oklahoma City, in Mustang, fires are being blamed for four minor injuries. One case involved a child whose hands were burned from a fire possibly set by children playing with fireworks, according to the Department of Emergency Management.

Last month, fires burned 50,000 acres in southern and eastern Oklahoma, causing one death on Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.

Grass Fires Break Out Across Oklahoma

Monday January 2, 2006 1:02 AM

AP Photo OKGB102


Associated Press Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A rash of grass fires broke out Sunday afternoon across Oklahoma, fueled by unseasonably dry conditions and wind gusts of more than 50 miles per hour.

Oklahoma City firefighters responded to at least 15 grass fires in the metro area Sunday afternoon that burned more than 100 acres, said Oklahoma City Fire Major Brian Stanaland.

A few homes suffered minor exterior damage in northeast Oklahoma City after some power lines arced and caught some grass on fire. While firefighters battled that blaze, high winds blew up some construction material from a nearby construction site that hit the power lines, caught on fire and landed on a nearby nursing home, Stanaland said.

``You basically had flying, flaming debris,'' Stanaland said. ``Luckily, we were already on the scene putting out the fires when it happened so we were able to put it out. We were very, very lucky.''

No injuries or major structure damage were immediately reported in Oklahoma City.

At least a dozen wildfires continued to burn across Oklahoma on Sunday evening, including a large blaze near Guthrie that threatened several homes, said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

``We have reports of a dozen fires that continue to burn across the state, and we know there are more than that,'' she said.

A fire near Wainwright in Muskogee County charred several thousand acres and was at least one-mile wide, but no injuries or structure fires were reported, said Bill Beebe, an information officer at a statewide command center established in Shawnee.

Army National Guard helicopters that were used to battle blazes over the weekend were grounded Sunday afternoon because of high winds and limited visibility, Ooten said.

A grass fire near Guthrie forced the closure of both the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 35 for more than an hour, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Pete Norwood.

State Highways 33 and 105 near Guthrie remained closed Sunday afternoon because of smoke that limited visibility, Norwood said.

A grass fire also was reported Sunday afternoon near Bristow in northeast Oklahoma and another near Wellston in Lincoln County that threatened about 30 homes.

Meanwhile, firefighters and state emergency officials across the state continued to monitor areas that were scorched by wildfires over the weekend, while urging Oklahomans to comply with the statewide burn ban.

The major hot spots were in Bennington, Bristow and Pink, where grassfires charred hundreds of acres on Saturday, Ooten said.

``We are reminding the people that they should be extremely careful in any outdoor activity today,'' she said. ``And remember that any firework activity is illegal, and taking a chance means putting Oklahomans, their homes and firefighters at risk.''

High winds, record-high temperatures and drought-like conditions across much of the state increased the fire danger to critical levels.

``Weather conditions are gearing up,'' Ooten said. ``We're working with military departments to make sure they have supplies on standby, and we are still receiving firefighters from Alabama and Tennessee.''

Oklahoma has been locked in a dry spell, with winds easing at night and in the morning and then increasing in the afternoon. Dozens of fires began in the state Tuesday when winds gusted to more than 40 mph. The state is more than a foot behind its normal rainfall of about 36 inches for this time of year.

Officials declared a state of emergency for Oklahoma Friday because of wildfire conditions, sought a federal disaster declaration and enlisted firefighting help from other states.

The wildfires in the last week have ravaged more than 30,000 acres, destroyed nearly 100 homes and businesses, left one man dead and caused a handful of minor injuries.

Raging Wildfire Burns Oklahoma City Homes


The Associated Press
Sunday, January 1, 2006; 10:02 PM


OKLAHOMA CITY -- Wildfires raged across Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico on Sunday, burning several homes in Oklahoma City and sparking patchworks of flames across the region as gusting winds blew flaming embers into the dry grass.

In Texas, at least 20 fires sprang up Sunday, continuing several days of damaging grass fires that officials warned were likely to continue as long as the dry, warm and windy conditions held on.

A Chinook helicopter flies over a fire en route to refill with water near Pink, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005. The fire was brought under control by firefighters from several nearby stations after burning approximately 120 acres. Grass fires that have burned about 30,000 acres statewide, destroyed 80 homes and businesses and led to one death were mostly contained as firefighters braced for more of the dry, windy conditions that have fueled the blazes. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
A Chinook helicopter flies over a fire en route to refill with water near Pink, Okla., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005. The fire was brought under control by firefighters from several nearby stations after burning approximately 120 acres. Grass fires that have burned about 30,000 acres statewide, destroyed 80 homes and businesses and led to one death were mostly contained as firefighters braced for more of the dry, windy conditions that have fueled the blazes. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) (Gerry Broome - AP)

An 8,000-acre blaze threatened 200 homes near Carbon, about 125 miles west of Dallas, and at least three homes had been destroyed by evening.

Just west of the Texas border in Hobbs, N.M., officials evacuated a nursing home, casino, community college and several neighborhoods as firefighters battled spreading grass fires on the western edge of the town of 29,000.

In Oklahoma City, two neighborhoods were evacuated as flames snaked across the northeastern part of the city and several homes were in flames. One man suffered minor smoke inhalation after refusing to evacuate his home, Stanaland said. Firefighters later rescued the man in a field near his home.

"We will overcome this challenge," Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry said in a televised news conference Sunday night as the fires continued to burn.

Drought-like conditions have pushed the fire danger to critical levels across Oklahoma and Texas.

Last week, wildfires in the two states ravaged more than 50,000 acres, destroying nearly 100 homes and businesses and killing four people. Oklahoma put out an emergency call for more fire crews from other states, and the governor asked for a federal disaster declaration.

At least a dozen wildfires were burning in Oklahoma on Sunday, pushed by 50 mph wind gusts. A large blaze near Guthrie threatened several homes, said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

"Today has been extremely intense," Fire Maj. Brian Stanaland said in Oklahoma City. "I think it's maybe starting to take its toll on our department."

Power lines arced and sparked one grass fire in the city. While firefighters battled that blaze, high winds tossed material from a nearby construction site into power lines, causing the debris to burn before it landed on a nearby nursing home, Stanaland said.

"You basically had flying, flaming debris," Stanaland said. "Luckily, we were already on the scene putting out the fires when it happened so we were able to put it out."

Raging Wildfire Burns Oklahoma City Homes

A fire near Wainwright in Muskogee County charred several thousand acres and was at least a mile wide, but no injuries or structure fires were reported, said Bill Beebe, an information officer at a statewide command center established in Shawnee.

In Carbon, Texas, at least three homes and several barns were destroyed Sunday afternoon and area residents were evacuated, said Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Traci Weaver.

Helicopters with the Texas Air National Guard assisted firefighters as billowing clouds of smoke hung across the horizon for miles.

Carbon is just northeast of Cross Plains, where more than 90 homes and a church were destroyed in a raging grass fire last week.

"We just took up money for the folks in Cross Plains at church this morning, never thinking it would be us in just three hours," said Mallory Fagan, who waited in nearby Eastland with her daughter Shana Fuchs and 15 dogs they rounded up from the family's dog rescue.

Fires raged along the Texas state line in New Mexico, including one reported at 40,000 to 50,000 acres along 20-mile line, said Dan Ware, a spokesman for the state Forestry Division.

Four structures burned in Hobbs, where residents _ including 27 living at a nursing home _ evacuated the western side of the city, Ware said.

Associated Press writer Angela K. Brown in Carbon, Texas, contributed to this report





DROUGHT - 2002
... the worst wildfire years in history: More than 4 million acres have burned, ...
 (June 20, 2002) - A wildfire sweeping across more than 36000 acres of an ...

... allowing a wildfire to cross highways, a fear in the Hi Meadow fire. ...
 that would have landed harmlessly (Monday) could start a major wildfire today." ... -

... Natural Disaster, Brief - People that live in tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire,
earthquake or heavy snowfall areas and want to be prepared for the ...
... The disease "could spread like wildfire in states such as Ohio that have a high
deer density," said Mike Reynolds, a wildlife research biologist with ...
... The title of it was National Wildfire. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.
12-29-92 - Experience: I was reading a book I received from my friend Alice, ...

... "You will have 65 fire dreams that will lead to your success." ... He said, "This
is a 'fire dream' #1. The dream started with a flame but I remember no ...

... A huge old tree caught fire in front of the house and at first I thought it
... branches reached up and over the house and the house could catch fire. ...

... and numerous prophets speak of how the very earth will overturn..or be burned
up in fire!!! ... We all do not HAVE to go down in Fire and Suffering! ...

... I waited for the red flashing lights of the fire trucks to go by the intersection
but ... Her children lost their home to the fire in northern Mexico. ...

... When a freak fire sparks, he goes to investigate and unknowingly becomes a
... are inaccessible - they fight fire on it's own terms, man against beast. ...

... he refused to cook because I had dreamed of a fire and he believed in my dreams.
... but if Dolores' (me) dream said there would be a fire if he cooked, ...

... A tornado storm apeared 3-4 they where they were made of fire very bright and ...

... REG SHERREN: The Thunder Bay District Fire Centre is gearing up. ...
DENNIS GILHOOLY / FIRE FIGHTER: It's probably the earliest start ever yet. ...

... I had a similar strange experience to the above, one I've had before where I
was shown a dangerous situation with fire prior to last year's fire season. ...

Arkansas Online : 1973 / Investigations
... Fogley, the state police investigator and a close friend, blames the Fourth
of July fire on misdirected Roman candles. ... Arkansas-1973-Investigations.htm

... kids shooting off some kind of red flames or fire crackers up from their ...
just in case of fire, extra copies are in a different building as well) ...