compiled by Dee Finney

updated 10-27-06


An orange glow and smoke fills sky behind homes in the Coral Trace subdvision off of SR 442 in Edgewater, Fla., Monday, May 15, 2006. An 800-acre blaze started in a rural area along I-95, then breached the highway and threatened a residential area, according to the state Division of Forestry. (AP Photo/Barbara V. Perez, Pool)

Photo Credit: AP Photo

Florida Wildfires

Authorities evacuated about 1,400 homes in east-central Florida on Monday after a brush fire jumped across a highway and threatened a residential area. The 800-acre blaze started in a rural area along Interstate 95, then moved across the pavement, posing a threat to homes and forcing officials to close a 12-mile stretch of the highway.

The fire is blowing east. It's blowing directly over the road, and parts of the median are on fire," state trooper Kim Miller said.

Parts of the highway have been closed intermittently for weeks because thick smoke from brush fires has mixed with morning fog and obscured the road, causing dozens of accidents.

Four people have died in car wrecks attributed to the smoke.

Wildfires have burned more than 101,600 acres in Florida since Jan. 1, according to the state Division of Forestry.

Written by Associated Press

Courtesy of © 2006, YellowBrix, Inc

Brush fires a threat and a challenge
Our position: Firefighters are prepared but need residents' help to prevent disaster.

Posted May 7, 2006

It has been eight years since the brush fires of 1998 terrorized Central Florida, ravaging as much as a half-million acres in the region.

Those horrific weeks exposed shortcomings state and local governments had in their fire-fighting resources.

Now, despite a few showers here and there, the region is the midst of a weeks-long dry spell. In fact, the National Weather Service in Melbourne is reporting that since January the Orlando area has had about 7 inches less rain than what is considered normal. The lack of rain has caused memories of the '98 brush fires to surface and governments to reassess their fire-fighting capabilities.

This season is nothing like the one eight years ago that drew firefighters from around the country to help battle those ferocious blazes, and Central Florida fire departments have added staff and equipment and made other improvements since then. Still, the potential for problems is high, particularly with so many trees fallen and dried out after previous summer storms serving as highly flammable fuel.

In Lake County just last week, about three dozen Tavares Middle School students were sent home to escape smoke from a brush fire that burned more than 1,000 acres nearby. A recent Brevard County blaze has scorched more than 5,000 acres, and in Volusia County wildfires burned within a few feet of homes and businesses in Deltona and Daytona Beach a few weeks ago.

Outlying areas in Lake where woods abut populated communities -- such as the area between Astor and Altoona -- face significant risks. They are so remote that the firefighter response time is about 15 minutes. That's enough time for a fire to result in devastating losses. Lake County Fire-Rescue is trying to secure property for a station closer to the area. The county should do all it can to speed up the process so adequate protection can be extended to those residents and properties.

The department has taken other crucial steps to become better prepared for brush fires, such as monitoring the drought index and then staffing extra firefighters to help when the danger level is high.

The department also works more closely with the state Division of Forestry, which takes the lead in doing controlled burns -- a controversial, misunderstood yet useful land-management practice. Setting brush fires under controlled circumstances eliminates excessive scrub that could otherwise flash up and burn out of control.

Lake firefighters are appropriately on alert. But property owners must be equally alert, sharing responsibility for preventing brush fires and minimizing the damage they cause by doing simple things such as removing dead plant material, disposing of cigarette butts properly and teaching children the dangers of arson.


May 14, 2006 2:49 pm US/Eastern

Brush Fires Burn As Fire Danger Continues

(CBS4 News) MIAMI Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day across much of Florida; perfect for Mothers’ day, but more bad news for state forestry officials who are battling one of the worst brush fire seasons in years. Sunday remained great weather for brushfires, and from South Florida to Orlando, firefighters remained on the lookout for flames.

State authorities say a wildfire has spread to the entire 29-thousand-acre Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area in southwest Palm Beach County. That fire sent a smoky haze across three counties Saturday, but a wind shift Sunday spared densely populated areas the smell of stale smoke.

The state Division of Forestry says the fire has more than doubled in size since it ignited Tuesday, likely by an all-terrain vehicle.

About 95 percent of the fire has been contained, and no structures were in danger.

A cold front pushing across South Florida will bring a good chance of rain during the first half of this week.

Five fires burned in Palm Beach and Broward counties yesterday, and small fire were reported in parts of Miami-Dade county.

Meanwhile, an 80-acre blaze was burning in Bonita Springs in southwest Florida, but no structures were damaged.

(© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Rain brings no reprieve from wildfires

About 50 wildfires still active

  A firefighter watches a grass fire burn Tuesday near Sun City, Florida.

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- A quarter-inch of rain brought little relief to firefighters battling about 50 wildfires in parched central Florida on Tuesday, and smoke from the blazes was blamed for auto accidents that killed four people.

Three homes and several outdoor structures have been destroyed so far in the fires that started April 21, but no homes were in immediate danger Tuesday.

"That rain is going to be dried up -- we didn't get much," said Timber Weller, a specialist with the Florida Division of Forestry. "By the end of today, most of that water will have evaporated between the sun and the winds."

Thick black smoke mixed with morning fog has caused dozens of car accidents. Two people died and 19 passengers on a bus were injured in four crashes on Monday.

Parts of Interstate 95 and the BeachLine Expressway, which runs from Orlando to the Atlantic coast, will be closed to morning traffic until further notice, officials said.

"Obviously the people need to be real careful, careful about starting fires, be careful about not throwing used cigarettes out," President Bush said Tuesday during a visit to the state. "They need to be mindful that these are dangerous conditions."

The fires have charred about 9,000 acres.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Firefighters battling hot spots

Chipper mill still smoldering

NORTH PORT -- Tuesday's rain did nothing to help the fire still burning at the Venice Land Clearing chipper mill on Joe Jeff Street.

"After getting three-quarters of an inch of rain, you can kick the surface and its dry as a bone," said Rick Christman of the Florida Division of Forestry.

The fire, which started Saturday morning, is still smoldering, according to North Port Fire Capt. Tom Gamber. Firefighters from North Port and the Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department have been at the chipper mill since Saturday.

Christman and North Port Deputy Chief Howard Bearse said it's looking good, but are being very cautious, and say the fire may still not be under control.

"We are making very good penetration," Bearse said. "But we still do not know what we will find as we dig."

Christman said there still could be a pocket glowing embers.

"It's hard to say without getting right into it," he said.

Bearse said he tried to get a temperature reading using the department's thermal imager, but the readings were sporadic.

"I'm getting only steam readings of about 150 degrees, but it's not constant and jumps all over the place," Bearse said.

Bearse said he could not comment on how much longer firefighters will be stationed at the mill.

The chipper mill is not allowed to take new material in, but they are allowed to continue existing operations on other parts of the property, fire officials said.

The Red Cross has been bringing food and drink to the firefighters and mill employees who are helping with the firefighting efforts.

Christman said these kinds of fires happen at many mulch fields. However, Christman said he would like to see these companies put in more safety precautions.

"Sprinkler systems really work well," Christman said. "Putting these on top of the piles can reduce the chance of spontaneous combustion."

Water is being pumped form a 25-acre lake owned by Henry Jakimer, a longtime North Porter. He has been trying to get commissioners to understand a fire could threaten the entire neighborhood.

According to Deputy Chief Don Adams, VLC representatives originally said there was no fire, just "steam" coming from the 30-foot piles. The chipper plant was already in operation when firefighters arrived. VLC operator Steve Dean cooperated with firefighters by operating the heavy equipment on site to remove debris from the piles.

Dean was unavailable for comment.

According to Sarasota County Property Appraiser's records, Dean's company VLC bought the property on Jan. 31, 2006 from Thomas Ritzmann of CINTOM Properties Inc. for $500,000.

Last May, the city Code Enforcement Board imposed a $500-per-day fine against the owner for continuing violations of the city's zoning code.

In February, the owner paid about $120,000 in fines and asked the city for permission to remain open. The fire department administration warned commissioners the facility would still be a hazard.

Commissioners decided earlier this year to file a lawsuit against the owner to have the business restored to its original 17-year old plan.

"This is such a shame," Lockhart said. "The neighbors kept saying this would happen. The city needed to act faster on this one. This is a threat to the neighborhood."

The Division of Forestry said the Department of Environmental Protection, which also had several concerns about the site when it inspected the facility in August, 2005, including mulch piles about 45 feet high, was notified Saturday.

Adams said the piles were so robust, a small pine tree was growing from one of them. Firefighters drove a truck on one of the piles and placed a sprinkler system on it to saturate the area.

Adams believes last week's rain water might have enhanced decomposing vegetation and created a fire deep inside the mulch piles.

The chipper remains closed to the public.

North Port Editor Elaine Allen-Emrich contributed to this story.

You can e-mail George McGinn at


Staff Writer

Evacuated Residents Allowed Back in Fla.

The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 16, 2006; 3:34 PM

EDGEWATER, Fla. -- Firefighters were able to build containment lines around a brush fire overnight, allowing residents to return Tuesday to 1,400 homes that were evacuated a day earlier.

Crews were concentrating on problem areas around Interstate 95, which remained closed Tuesday morning, said Timber Weller, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Forestry.

"They're continuing to widen the lines and spray out the hotspots, especially focusing around 95, so hopefully we can get that stretch opened up," he said.

Residents were allowed to return home after midnight, Weller said.

The fire started in a rural area along I-95 in Volusia County, south of Daytona Beach, then breached the highway and threatened houses as it burned about 800 acres. It was about 5 miles south of another brush fire that had forced about 1,000 residents in New Smyrna Beach to evacuate their homes last week.

Parts of I-95 have been closed intermittently for weeks because thick smoke from several fires in east-central Florida mixed with morning fog.

Wildfires have burned more than 101,600 acres in Florida since Jan. 1, according to the state Division of Forestry. That total already far exceeds the acreage burned in Florida in each of the past four years.

A state of emergency that Gov. Jeb Bush declared May 8 remained in effect, and Bush said Tuesday that the federal government had approved a request for disaster aid.

A dry spring has made the state particularly vulnerable for wildfire, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said. "Let's not forget we have thousands of tons of debris on the ground from eight different hurricanes. That's causing us major problems," he said.



Brin's Fire, top, burns near Sedona, Ariz., on Sunday, June 18, 2006. 
Authorities evacuated five sub-divisions in Sedona and also about 
400 homes and businesses in nearby Oak Creek Canyon. Brin's 
Fire has burned over 3,000 acres so far.
12:16 a.m. ET, 6/19/06

Subject: The Brins fire in Sedona

From: Aurora
Sent: Sunday, June 18, 2006 7:51 PM

Dear friends,

Some of you have heard of the wild fire that has been raging 5 miles north of Sedona since noon today - some of you have not.

I just want to send some pictures and update you a little about what's going on.

The wind is coming from the west, which means that the fire is spreading away from us right now. It started close to Brins Mesa which is a hiking trail up from Soldier's Pass where we live. It's kind of a ravine that has the Mesa behind it and the Mogollon Rim to the east so we though it might contain itself. There is a pass through the rim that leads into Oak Creek Canyon and late afternoon it was decided that the canyon should be evacuated. A fire in the canyon is a disaster but I don't know how bad it is. No info anywhere, just from people we meet or call. Nothing on TV nor radio..... very odd. Have heard one message on the news where they gave us a hot line # to call for info which I tried but it didn't work.

Northern part of Soldiers Pass is evacuated and also north of Uptown. We are probably safe with this wind so pray that it won't change tonight. Would hate to be evacuated in the middle of the night.....

There is no way that fire engines or fighters can get out there but 4 flying wet units (water dumping helicopters) is working full time. I guess they can do nothing tonight. I just went out for another check and it seems like the really thick clouds has evened out. Keep your fingers crossed it will work out with ease and grace.

Attaching pictures for you. 


Aurora and Bill


Oak Creek-area fire grows to 3,000 acres

Associated Press

Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.19.2006

SEDONA - Fire crews were positioned Monday to try to protect homes from a growing wildfire that had burned to within a mile of some of the buildings in northern Arizona's scenic Oak Creek Canyon.

The fire was estimated early today at 1,000 acres, but new mapping later placed it at 3,000 acres, said Brienne Untalan, a spokeswoman for the fire crews.
The fire was burning on high mountain plateaus above Oak Creek Canyon, forcing the evacuation of about 400 homes and businesses in the canyon and another roughly 100 homes in five Sedona subdivisions.
The weather forecast for Monday for the area called for high temperatures approaching 100 degrees, with winds of around 10 to 20 mph, with higher afternoon gusts.
Crews manning fire engines spread out throughout the canyon to defend homes, fire officials said. There were no reports as of early Monday of any homes being damaged or destroyed but the potential remained.
"It's going to be quite a fight not to lose them," said Kristy Bryner, a fire information officer.
Four airplanes and four helicopters were used to dumped retardant and water on the fire Sunday. About 160 people fought the blaze as of late Sunday.
A Type 1 incident management team is scheduled to take over the fire Tuesday. A Type 1 crew is reserved for the most complex and serious fires.
Oak Creek Canyon, more than 90 miles north of Phoenix, contains a mix of homes, including upscale houses and mobile home parks, said Brenda Grey, a spokeswoman for Coconino County. She said it also contains hotels, resorts and stores that are scattered throughout the canyon.
Helge Zipprich, who lives in a mobile home in Oak Creek Canyon, said he and his three sons were in Sedona at the time of the evacuation so they didn't have time to get anything from their home. They arrived late Sunday at an evacuation shelter in Sedona with only the clothes on their backs.
Zipprich said the worst part was not knowing what's happening. "If the fire does spread and gets my home I wouldn't know," he said.
The fast-moving fire ignited Sunday afternoon in a wooded area and quickly led to the evacuations in the Sedona subdivisions, including Cibola Hills, Rim Shadows, Painted Cliff, Shadow Rock Circle and Casa Contenta.
"There is no immediate or urgent threat to those subdivisions," said Cathie Schmidlin, another fire information officer.


New wildfire near Sedona


Monica Alonzo-Dunsmoor and Anne Ryman
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 18, 2006 
A 1,000-acre forest fire burning just north of Sedona has caused the evacuation of Oak Creek Canyon as well as about 100 homes.

The Sedona Fire District ordered homes evacuated north of Casa Contenta, which is on Soldiers Pass Road, and north of Navahopi Road The Village of Oak Creek has not been evacuated.

As of late afternoon, the fire was moving northeast away from Sedona and toward Oak Creek Canyon.

"At this time, nothing is being threatened, but we are beginning to get embers in the area so as a precautionary measure we're evacuating the area," said Henry Provencio, a spokesman for the Coconino National Forest.

An evacuation center has been set up at West Sedona Elementary School and a recorded hotline is available at 928-204-8975.

The Brins Fire was spotted around 1 p.m. on top the Brins Mesa about a mile north of Sedona. The Brins Mesa Trail is popular among hikers because of its sweeping views of the red rock formations such as Coffee Pot and Chimney Rock.

At least 90 firefighters are on the scene along with two helicopters and four air tankers, and a Type 2 team is en route. No injuries have been reported, and no homes have been lost.

Gary Johnson, public information officer for the Sedona Fire District, estimates the fire is at least a mile from homes.

"The reason we're concerned is because there is old growth out there, and it could work its way toward town," he said. The fire's cause is unknown.

Subdivisions that were ordered evacuated include Cibola Hills, Rim Shadows, Painted Cliff, Shadow Rock Circle and Casa Contenta.

In the upscale Casa Contenta subdivision, where luxury homes are tucked in among trees, residents packed up belongings and kept an eye on the fire from their driveways and balconies.

Beverly Coffey loaded paintings into a sport-utility vehicle. She paused in her driveway to watch the plume of brownish-white smoke.

Her voice cracked and tears welled up in her eyes as she prepared to evacuate. "It's just the fear that you're going to come home, and it won't be here. It's your home," she said.

Conditions in Sedona and the surrounding area have been extremely dry.

Sections of Highway 89-A have been closed through the northeast section of Sedona.

Earlier this month, crews contained an 836-acre wildfire near the Village of Oak Creek, which destroyed five buildings and forced the evacuation of 200 people.

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8072.


Highway Is Firebreak for Blaze Near Sedona

Distant smoke is  seen as police volunteers direct residents back into a Sedona, Ariz., subdivision Wednesday, June 21, 2006. About 400 residents from the area were evacuated Sunday after the Brins fire started. Residents of two subdivisions were allowed back to their homes Wednesday but homes and businesses in Oak Creek Canyon remained off-limits. (AP Photo/Tom Hood)
TOM HOOD: AP From Times Wire Reports June 22, 2006
Firefighters near Sedona burned some fuel from the path of a wildfire that moved into a scenic northern Arizona canyon, threatening hundreds of home there, but still faced a battle to keep it from moving any further.

Firefighters were using Highway 89A, which runs through the center of Oak Creek Canyon, as a firebreak to halt the advance of the 2,585-acre fire.

"We've kind of drawn some lines in the sand and we're going to be working hard to solidify them," said Sedona Fire District Chief Matt Shobert.

Ariz. Firefighters Work to Protect Park

SEDONA, Ariz. — A 2,585-acre fire approached a popular state park in northern Arizona, and Colorado's governor banned open burning and fireworks as a wildfire there grew to nearly 12,000 acres.

Hundreds of firefighters struggled Wednesday to prevent flames from jumping a highway in Arizona's scenic Oak Creek Canyon and threatening an area of evacuated homes and resorts. The blaze was only 7 percent contained in the steep, rugged terrain.

Flames had neared the two-lane highway that runs through the middle of the canyon, but crews were able to burn away fuel in its path, officials said. The fire also approached the area of Slide Rock State Park, a popular recreation spot that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

The blaze started Sunday in a camp used by transients and spread quickly, forcing the evacuation of about 460 homes and businesses in the canyon more than 90 miles north of Phoenix. The Forest Service is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to a conviction of those responsible for the fire.

Mike Yeager has a home in the lushly forested canyon, whose walls are tinted crimson by iron oxide.

"It makes me so mad. I just want to spit," he said. "These people started a fire in the most beautiful place in the world."

Gov. Janet Napolitano declared a state of emergency Monday to activate the state's 211 phone system, which provides people with information about natural disasters and other emergencies.

Oak Creek Canyon "is the jewel of Arizona," said Napolitano, who toured the area by air. "We want to do everything we can do to save this area."

In southern Colorado, a wildfire grew to 11,800 acres as Gov. Bill Owens banned open burning and fireworks on state-owned land _ and urged local officials to do the same. Thunderstorms ignited several fires across the state.

No homes were destroyed by the blaze, but about 300 were evacuated as helicopters dropped water on smoldering ground within two miles of a rural subdivision east of Fort Garland.

Officials said the fire was 30 percent contained by Wednesday afternoon, with crews allowing it to burn itself out in uninhabited wilderness.

Owens toured fire lines near Fort Garland and likened the statewide danger to the disastrous fire year of 2002, when 235 homes were destroyed.

"The current hot, dry conditions increase the potential for a major fire every day," Owens said.

Debbie Pettigrew decided not to evacuate but backed a trailer up to her house in case she had to pack family heirlooms and leave in a hurry. She said her family's roots run deep in the area and some of her furniture dates to the covered-wagon era.

"It's not just trees that are burning, it's history," Pettigrew said.

In New Mexico, heat, wind and rugged terrain slowed efforts to control fires that have burned nearly 70,000 acres of forest.

The largest blaze, burning across about 33,250 acres in southwestern New Mexico, continued to threaten cabins in the Willow Creek area, fire officials warned.

In California, firefighters battled a blaze of more than 13,000 acres that had stopped short of a critical ridgeline in Los Padres National Forest. No homes were threatened as the fire burned away from the small town of New Cuyama, about 45 miles east of Santa Maria.

Wildfires have charred more than 3.1 million acres nationwide so far this year, well ahead of the average of about 900,000 acres by this time, the National Interagency Fire Center reported. Huge grass fires that swept Texas and Oklahoma this spring account for much of the increase.


Associated Press Writer Colleen Slevin in Colorado contributed to this report.

Wildfire Strands Grand Canyon Tourists

58,300-Acre Blaze Forces Road Closure, Marooning Hundreds Of Visitors And Workers
FREDONIA, Ariz., June 27, 2006

(CBS/AP) A 49,700-acre wildfire north of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona jumped the only highway leading to the remote North Rim, closing the road and marooning hundreds of tourists and workers. The fire was burning about 30 miles from the park, but officials said no one was in any danger.

The tourists were led out to safety late Tuesday, reports CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes.

In all, 42 large fires are burning in nine states, claiming more than 3.5 million acres so far this year — twice last year's acreage and almost three times as much as the 10-year average, reports Hughes. Eight states are under severe draught warning.

Experts say blame Mother Nature. "We had a very wet 2005 that created a lot of grass and brush and those fuels have carried over to this year," Rick Ochoa of the National Interagency Fire Center told Hughes.

In Nevada, lightning bolts sparked another half-dozen new wildfires that were burning around Reno and Carson City early Tuesday, worsening the damage from blazes that already have consumed about 50,000 acres of northern Nevada.

More than two dozen fires remained active, many out of control, reaching from the heavily timbered western front of the Sierra Nevada near Reno to the sage- and grass-filled rangeland near Elko, 300 miles east.

As many as 300 homes and businesses east of Carson City in the Mound House area were threatened by a pair of brush fires covering an estimated 1,500 acres that forced the temporary closure of part of U.S. Highway 50.

Nevada officials earlier ordered evacuations in two rural communities near Elko and flames burned within a quarter mile of homes 15 miles northwest of Reno, but no injuries were reported and no homes faced immediate threat. Some residents also voluntarily evacuated from the rural valleys on the northern outskirts of Reno, where some of the new lightning fires that began Monday were burning an estimated 2,000 acres.

Nevada's biggest fire has grown to 40,000 acres about 20 miles west of Elko near Carlin, where the University of Nevada Fire Science Academy is located along I-80.

"We do a lot of real-life fire training, but we never expected this," said Denise Baclawski, the academy's executive director. "All night long we had staff members work to protect the facility."

Northwest of Reno, a 1,500-acre wildfire in the Sierra just across the Nevada-California line was estimated to be 50 percent contained early Tuesday and some of those 250 firefighters were being transferred elsewhere.

About 90 miles north along U.S. Highway 395 near Susanville, Calif., a 100-acre fire forced evacuations of as many as 100 homes before residents began returning Monday night.

Near Sedona, Ariz., fire officials predicted that a 4,200-acre fire that forced hundreds to evacuate would be contained Wednesday. Owners of the roughly 400 homes and scattered businesses still evacuated were expected be allowed to return Tuesday night.

Elsewhere, a 3,200-acre blaze a mile west of the northern New Mexico town of Gallina calmed. Crews were still fighting the fire, though evacuees from 120 homes in three subdivisions were allowed to return Monday.

As of Monday, wildfires around the United States had blackened 3.3 million acres this year, compared with 1.2 million acres on average at this point in the fire season, the National Interagency Fire Center reported. However, much of this year's acreage resulted from huge grass fires in Texas and Oklahoma this spring, not from forest fires.

©MMVI CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


PRESCOTT, Ariz. A lightning-caused wildfire is burning this evening near Crown King north of Phoenix. The fire is in the Prescott National Forest on the Bradshaw Mountains.

So far, it's burned between 150 and 200 acres.

Two air tankers have been dumping retardant on the path of the Tiger Fire. The planes returned to Williams Gateway to restock and are heading back to the fire.

Tall, orange flames can be seen leaping into the air.

Lots of gray smoke is floating over the area.

The fire is burning in steep terrain. Getting fire crews to the fire is not easy. Channel 5 says hand crews will be arriving tomorrow to battle the wildfire.

As far as structures, the fire is burning away from some nearby summer homes.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Wildfire burns 5,000 acres near Moses Lake

Associated Press
June 29, 2006

MOSES LAKE, WA (AP) — A fire that has burned an estimated 5,000 acres near Moses Lake was threatening several homes, a power transmission line, a power substation and a fish hatchery, authorities said today.

No evacuation orders were immediately issued, and no injuries were reported. There was no word on what caused the Rocky Ford fire, burning roughly 4 miles northwest of Moses Lake in Grant County.

Washington State Patrol’s Fire Protection Bureau sent crews to help local firefighters. Douglas, Chelan and Spokane counties also sent firefighters, engines and water tenders.

The extra crews were dispatched as part of a state fire services mobilization plan. Such plans are used to provide additional personnel and equipment from around the state when wildfires exceed the capacity of local crews.

Elsewhere in Eastern Washington, a wildfire near Ephrata blackened more than 5,000 acres and destroyed a mobile home.

It took firefighters 13 hours Wednesday to contain the fire in rough terrain. Fire managers said it was started by embers from a trash burn barrel.

Firefighters contained a 175-acre fire south of U.S. Highway 12 on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains on Wednesday.

The Trout fire started Tuesday evening east of Rimrock Lake and roared through grass, brush and timber in steep terrain on state and federal land about 40 miles west of Yakima. Two helicopters dropped water on the fire Wednesday.

No evacuations were ordered, although residents in the Rimrock Lake Retreat were obviously concerned, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Bette Cooney of the Naches Ranger District.

Several dozen cabins and permanent residences sit along the Tieton River, but the fire burned uphill, south of the river and away from any structures, Cooney said.

Firefighters cleared fire lines east and west of the burn, and containment was declared late Wednesday, but officials remained concerned about the danger posed by fireworks with the approach of the Fourth of July.

“We did have a wet season and an early (rain) season, which prompted voracious growth with some of our grasses,” said Doug Jenkins, a Wenatchee National Forest spokesman in Naches. “We’re really concerned about it.”

Nearly three dozen firefighters from nine agencies battled a stubborn 112-acre brush fire that started about half a mile north of U.S. 12 northwest of Yakima, advancing within 100 feet of several homes near Gleed, northwest of Yakima, early Wednesday afternoon.

A brush fire officials were calling arson blackened about 45 acres near Wapato, south of Yakima. Both the Gleed and Wapato fires were under control by Wednesday evening.

Wildfire Scorches Hilly Back Country Near Escondido, CA
Published: 6/30/2006 1:19:27 AM

A wildfire blackened scores of acres in a rural area north of Escondido today, burning toward some back-country homes but causing no structural damage, although one firefighter was injured, authorities said.

The blaze began spreading in a hilly area off Old Castle Road and Champagne Boulevard in the Hidden Meadows area about 3 p.m., according to the California Department of Forestry.

Within two hours, the burn area had grown to roughly 100 acres, department public information officer Audrey Hagen said.

Attacking the flames at 5 p.m. were some 300 firefighters from three agencies, equipped with four air tankers, four helicopters, 45 engines and two bulldozers.

The blaze was about 35 percent contained as of 8 p.m., and had stopped spreading, authorities said.

The blaze moved in the general direction of a few scattered neighborhoods but posed no imminent danger to them.

"There's no evacuation order," Hagen said in the early evening.

Crews expected to have the fire surrounded by around midnight and fully extinguished sometime tomorrow, Hagen said.

Officials were unsure what sparked the blaze, Hagen said.

CNS-06-29-2006 20:48

Weather brings optimism to massive wildfire fight in Nevada

RENO, Nev. For the first time in five days, firefighters battling more than 215 square miles of wildfires in Nevada have reason for optimism. That's thanks in part to better weather and reinforcements from across the West.

With scattered showers, lower temperatures and higher humidity, fire crews are holding their own against a 79-thousand-acre fire in eastern Nevada that earlier in the week closed 20 miles of Interstate 80 from Carlin to Elko. That fire is now estimated to be 60 percent contained.

Fire officials say the threats to homes in Elko and Carlin is greatly diminished.

In the western part of the state, the 58-hundred-acre Linehan fire that threatened up to 300 homes at one point and forced evacuations around Carson City is now 90 percent contained.

The 32-hundred-acre Virginia fire, which closed U-S Highway 95-A between Fernley and Silver Springs for several hours yesterday, is 80 percent contained.

Mopping up also is under way on the ten-thousand-acre Elburz Fire ten miles northeast of Elko, while the Sneekee Fire, 35 miles southwest of Elko, is 80 percent contained at about ten-thousand acres.

Three consecutive days of temperatures in the 90s, low humidity and dry lightning eased last night and today as a wet West Coast system pushed through.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized funding to cover up to 75 percent of the costs of fighting the fires.

No injuries have been reported and no structures have burned in any of Nevada's fires.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press.

California fire threatens Old West movie set

July 12, 2006 (YUCCA VALLEY, Calif.) - At least 30 homes have gone up in smoke near a historic town that was the backdrop for old Hollywood Westerns.

As many as a thousand people have fled from a wildfire racing across 26-thousand acres of Southern California desert. Fire officials say the fire has already burned up less historic outbuildings. The Pioneertown streetscape is where Gene Autry and Roy Rogers fought the bad guys.

Firefighters are making better progress against another California wildfire. Officials say the blaze southeast of San Francisco has been about 40 percent contained by the thousand firefighters on the job there.

Montana firefighters are trying to control a blaze west of Billings that has destroyed at least four structures, including two homes.

Battalion Chief Doug Lannon says portions of the wildfire have been contained, but fire officials won't know exactly how much until later Wednesday.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Fires Rage Over 27,000 Acres Near Joshua Tree National Park...

LA Times   |  Susanna Rosenblatt   |  Posted July 12, 2006 03:57 PM

A wildfire continued burning in Yucca Valley this morning, with no indication when the blaze would be contained.

The fire, which has consumed more than 27,000 acres, has burned for four days and destroyed more than 30 homes and outbuildings in and around Pioneertown, the Old West outpost and former movie set outside Joshua Tree National Park in San Bernardino County, fire officials said.

More than eight injuries to firefighters and residents have been reported. More than 2,500 firefighters were battling the blaze.

Fed by winds as fierce as 40 mph, the fire has been renamed the Sawtooth Complex fire. It was caused by a lightning strike about 8:30 a.m. Sunday.

More than 1,000 people have evacuated. An aid center was established at Yucca Valley High School.

and more than 3,000 buildings remained threatened by the blaze, according to state fire officials.

"It's a challenging fire at this point," said Glenn Barley, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in San Bernardino County. "We really don't know when we can get it under control."

More than 1,200 firefighters were battling the wildfire, focusing on saving lives and structures.

Pioneertown remained closed to residents this afternoon. Located about 120 miles east of Los Angeles, it was built in 1946 as a permanent set for western movies. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Russell Hayden all made films using the stores and desert as a flinty background. It was generally undamaged by the fire.

The last movie was filmed in 1995, according to the Pioneertown website. The buildings, however, have become a tourist draw and are home to a few hundred hardy souls.

Many of the homeowners gathered near roadblocks, anxiously waiting for word on when they could return.

Earlier, flames crept down Morongo Canyon, approaching just a half-mile from homes, as residents poured into Navajo Trail, a dirt road that leads from Highway 62.

The valley sky was filled with grayish white smoke, visible from some 50 miles away, as helicopters buzzed overhead dumping water.

Tammy Murrow, 33, moved her two small children from their Yucca Valley home on Navajo Trail last night and waited worriedly for news of possible evacuation. She had transported photos, birth certificates and the kids' Game Boys to a relative's home in Palm Desert.

"I'm stressing," Murrow said. "I stayed up all last night 'cause I was so freaked out by the fire and the winds."

She said the nearby mountain was completely ablaze Tuesday night, and the Sheriff's Department knocked on her door at 3 a.m. to warn her of the advancing fire.

"It's horrible," Murrow said. "I don't know how they're going to stop it. I never saw fire like this ever.

"It makes me rethink living here. I'm scared to death now."

Nearby, plasterer David Hessen, 43, stood atop his roof, hosing it down. Hessen had been spraying the roof since before dawn, when the sheriff's warning came.

"I've been at this since last night in case ashes fall on my roof," said Hessen, who moved to Yucca Valley from Lake Forest four years ago. "I'm from the city. I love it out here. It's really great in winter."

When asked what it would take to make him leave, Hessen pointed to the house next door: "When this house burns down, I'll go."

Linda Herzel waited to return to her home in one of Pioneertown's historic buildings along Mane Street. When she left it was in tact, but she fears what she will find; anything from smoke damage to a pile of rubble.

"I feel sorry for the new people who have moved here," Herzel said. "They came here for a new life and now this has happened."

Times staff writer Susannah Rosenblatt contributed to this report.

Wildfires pull Utah crew to Wyoming
West ablaze: Vast acreage also burning in Idaho and Nevada>
By Ben Neary
The Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Firefighters tried to fend off a wildfire threatening hundreds of houses just south of Casper on Wednesday as a forecast of high winds raised fears that the flames could spread.

''We haven't lost any homes, but it's real close,'' said State Forester Bill Crapser.

He said officials were concerned that strong winds could drive flames toward houses on the north face and top of Casper Mountain, about five miles south of Wyoming's second-largest city. The lightning-sparked fire has already burned nearly 10,000 acres, since Monday. Gov. Dave Freudenthal declared a state of emergency Tuesday.

About 200 firefighters were assigned to the fire and that number was expected to increase, Crapser said.

''The weather looks like it's going to be unfavorable today, with high winds, low relative humidity,'' he said.

Fire managers from the Muirs Eastern Great Basin National Incident Management Team, including about 20 people from Utah, arrived in Wyoming Wednesday morning, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kathy Jo Pollack. The team, trained to manage complex, large-scale fires took over command around 6 a.m., Pollack said.

The help of Utah fire crews has been requested but Pollack said officials in Wyoming are uncertain how many will arrive and where they will come from.

An estimated 300 homes in the heavily forested area were ordered evacuated Monday and Tuesday. About half the firefighters will be assigned to protect houses while the rest cleared fire breaks to stop the flames' advance, Crapser said.

Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said all available equipment and crews are fully engaged on more than 40 large wildfires across the West. Resources are being shifted from fire suppression to protecting high-value targets.

''We're focusing on protecting community infrastructure, historical resources and precious watersheds,'' said Rose Davis, a Forest Service spokeswoman. ''We need to look at where we can be the most effective with what we have, knowing these fires could keep burning for another month or so.''

Idaho led the nation with 12 large wildfires Tuesday, including several on the fringes of rural mountain communities. The state Department of Environmental Quality issued what it said was its first ''red'' air quality alert for the populous Boise Valley after drifting smoke from wildfires sent ozone pollution to unhealthy levels.

Elsewhere, firefighters were battling a lightning-sparked wildfire that had doubled in size to 40,000 acres in Elko County, Nev., by Wednesday. Crews said they feared the 62 square-mile fire would be aided by dry weather and windy conditions. It was estimated at 40 percent contained.

Army troops also were being sent to two fires that have blackened more than 140 square miles in northern Washington state.

Nationwide, more than 6.3 million acres have burned this year, well above the 10-year average of less than 4 million acres burned by this time of year, according to the NIFC.
   Tribune reporter Michael N. Westley contributed to this story

In this photo provided by the National Wildland Fire Prevention Team, a firefighter, right, and another person watch a wildfire on Casper Mountain, Wyo., Monday, Aug. 14, 2006. Continued hot, dry weather threatened to cause even more problems Tuesday as firefighters struggled to contain a wildfire bearing down on hundreds of evacuated homes on Casper Mountain. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the National Wildland Fire Prevention Team, John Bear) (John Bear - AP)

Wyoming Wildfire Threatens Homes

By BEN NEARY The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 16, 2006; 11:14 PM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- More firefighters and equipment arrived Wednesday in attempts to fend off a wildfire threatening hundreds of houses near Casper.

The fire expanded rapidly in shifting winds and headed toward a subdivision of about 50 homes, said State Forester Bill Crasper. "We haven't lost any homes, but it's real close," Crasper said.

The fire was burning on Casper Mountain, about five miles south of Wyoming's second-largest city. The lightning-sparked blaze had already burned nearly 10,000 acres, or 15 square miles, since Monday. Gov. Dave Freudenthal declared a state of emergency Tuesday.

A top-level federal fire management team took control Wednesday morning.

An estimated 300 homes in the heavily forested area were ordered evacuated Monday and Tuesday. More evacuation orders were likely, Crapser said.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise reported 20 new large fires Wednesday for a total of 57, covering 680 square miles in the West. Besides 15 large fires in Idaho, there were nine in Montana, seven in California and six each in Nevada and Oregon.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued what it said was its first "red" air quality alert for the populous Boise Valley after drifting smoke from wildfires sent ozone pollution to unhealthy levels.

Elsewhere, firefighters were battling a lightning-sparked wildfire that had doubled in size to 40,000 acres, or 62 square miles, in Elko County, Nev. Army troops were assigned to two fires that have blackened more than 140 square miles in northern Washington state.

Nationwide, more than 6.3 million acres have burned this year, well above the 10-year average of less than 4 million acres burned by this time of year, according to the NIFC.

"We're focusing on protecting community infrastructure, historical resources and precious watersheds," said Rose Davis, a Forest Service spokeswoman at the NIFC. "We need to look at where we can be the most effective with what we have, knowing these fires could keep burning for another month or so."


On the Net:

National Interagency Fire Center:

Idaho Has The Most Wildfires In The Country
August 16, 2006

As of Wednesday night, Idaho has the distinction of having the most wildfires in the country.

Fifteen are burning throughout the state.

In Eastern Idaho almost eighty thousand acres are consumed with flames, smoke and ash.

The Crystal Fire is burning at more than 60-thousand acres just west of Aberdeen.

Another thirteen and half thousand acres are burning near the Utah state line near Holbrook and the Basin Fire is scorching through 46-hundred acres in Arbon Valley.

It may have woke you up Monday morning, or kept you from sleeping Sunday night. But this lightning storm was more than that, it was the biggest fire starter of the year.

All the lightning was followed by low humidity and gusty winds helping three of the biggest fire gain both strength and ground.

All three of these fire were started by lightning and they're threatening homes, fields and the livelihood of those living in the area.

Idaho's forces are stretched thin, there are two hundred thirty firefighters just on the three biggest fires.
We've called people in from out of state to help," said Joanna Wilson with the Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center.

With dry conditions and more winds on the way it looks like it's going to be a long week.

Folks living in the Arbon Valley are being warned they might want to consider evacuating their homes or at least prepare for that eventually.

We're just talking a few ranch homes. If you are in the line of fire, you'll want to disc a fire line around your property and keep the area around your house lean and green.

Meaning, water your lawns and keep brush to a minimum.

Fires burning near the Central Mountains have gotten so bad, whitewater rafters on the Salmon River were told to watch for burning logs and falling rocks dislodged from the fires burning along the Canyon Rims.

Soldiers deployed to help on wildfires in Northcentral Washington
Updated 8/15/2006 1:48 PM ET
WINTHROP, Wash. (AP) — Soldiers from Fort Lewis were receiving additional training Tuesday before being sent to the front lines of two fires that have blackened more than 140 square miles in north central Washington state.

The 550 U.S. Army troops from Task Force Blaze, commanded by Lt. Colonel Ricky Love, arrived in the area late Monday and were to receive an additional two days of training before joining line operations on Thursday, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The Tripod Complex of fires between Winthrop and Conconully grew to nearly 90,000 acres Monday.

The troops received basic fire training at Fort Lewis and will be assigned to 20-person crews to mop-up, build fire lines and patrol for hotspots.

"We appreciate the military's approval of this request, considering their other current taskings," said Karyn Wood, a spokeswoman at the National Interagency Fire Center at Boise. "Adding 25 fresh crews to the mix of resources will really help us make progress on the Tripod Complex."

A shortage of local firefighting crews and unfavorable weather forecasts prompted the fire center in Boise to request help last week. Soldiers are expected be deployed for about two months, said Army Maj. Cathy Wilkinson, a 1st Corps plans and operations officer.

By Tuesday morning, crews had dug lines around 25% of the Tripod and Spur Peak fires, which officials said had not merged, as they originally estimated earlier this month.

The fires are in the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest, with the northeast corner spread in the Loomis State Forest.

Mike Ferris, spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team, said the south part of the fire that had been threatening Winthrop was secure.

There are more than 2,330 firefighters assigned to the blazes caused by July lightning strikes.

In central Washington, the Flick Creek fire near Stehekin on Lake Chelan was 50% trailed Tuesday at about 4,350 acres, or about 6.7 square miles. Almost two dozen firefighters were on the scene.

Crews were managing the 4,523-acre Tinpan fire along the Entiat River trail as a wildland-use fire, meaning it will be allowed to burn naturally unless it threatens to run outside preset boundaries.

The fire has burned 40 miles northwest of the town of Entiat in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. About 170 personnel were assigned to the fire.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted 8/14/2006 5:07 PM ET

Aug 14,2006
Lake George Fire Now 1,600 Acres, Additional Areas Closed
by Cheryl McDermott

The Lake George fire grew by about 600 acres to an estimated 1,600 acres Sunday, pushing deeper into the Mt. Washington Wilderness.  According to a news release from the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center, the lightning-caused fire that began August 7 approximately 13 miles west of Sisters in the Mt. Washington Wilderness is now about 10 percent contained.

Projected fire movement suggests continued active surface spread to west with flanking spread to the south and east.  Forecasted wind shift to the northwest in the afternoon with increasing wind speeds will support rapid spread to the east with short duration and frequent torching, or the burning of a tree's crown, possible.  Down wind spotting, where small fires caused by wind-carried burning material form beyond the main fire edge, is possible up to ½ mile.

On Sunday, crews made progress in building and wet-mopping the north flank fire-line.  Work continued to extend and plumb the dozer contingency line to Dugout Lake and progress was made in efforts to establish a second dozer line outside of the wilderness.

Due to a shift in wind direction from a cold front moving into the area this afternoon, the east side of the fire will be tested for several hours.  Crews will be on increased alert to changing weather patterns and fire conditions.  Crews will continue to mop up and improve existing lines and make efforts to extend new line into areas of lava rock.

Portions of the Washington Wilderness Area and the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mt. Washington Wilderness between Hwy 242 and Big Lake are closed, with the exception of a portion of the 2060 road which remains open to allow access to Black Butte Ranch for residents.

Two new areas north of the fire around Meadow and Link Lakes were closed Sunday to allow for safe access to water sources for suppression aircraft.

The Black Crater and Lake George Fires are being managed by Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3 (PNW3) under a joint delegation from the Deschutes National Forest and Oregon Department of Forestry.  Currently PNW3 consists of 554 personnel with eight helicopters, two fixed wing-retardant aircraft, 12 engines, eight dozers and seven water tenders.

Two wildfires scorch southern California

GORMAN, Calif. To the north and east of Los Angeles, wildfires are burning thousands of acres in southern California.

A freeway had to be closed for a time after flames made their way through the brush on a hillside along the northern edge of L-A County. More than 44-hundred homes were without electricity for a time, after flames damaged a power substation and some lines.

Fire officials say less than a quarter of the blaze is contained. But no homes are threatened. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The second wildfire, in Riverside County, is about three-quarters contained. Fireworks are blamed for starting that blaze.

And across the border, Nevada officials say they've fully contained a wildfire west of Reno.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Battle continues against North Coast wildfires

DENNY, Calif. Firefighters are still battling several North Coast wildfires this weekend, and the blazes have been burning since lightning sparked them last month.

Helicopters dropped fire retardant along ridge tops in Trinity County, while crews cut breaks through forests in Siskiyou County to stop wildfire from spreading.

More than 35,000 acres have burned across four Northern California counties since July. Fire crews are worried that quickly changing weather expected this week could pose new difficulties.

Little relief for firefighters is expected, with warmer temperatures and higher winds forecast for this week.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved

Monday, August 28, 2006 - Sunday, August 27, 2006 10:44PM

Wildfire near Colfax 100 percent contained

by Nick Eaton

Fire chiefs from across Whitman County and Washington lauded the cooperation among agencies that quickly brought a 4,000-acre fire from a serious threat to smoldering fields. The fire is completely contained and 95-percent extinguished, officials said at the Sunday demobilization briefing.

“I can’t take credit as an incident commander,” said Glenn Brautaset, the Mt. Vernon Fire chief who took over Thursday night. “It’s all about teamwork – like a football team or a basketball team.”

He said the area’s strong community spirit made the job easier than usual.

On Wednesday afternoon, when the fire broke out, all 14 fire districts from Whitman County responded as the blaze grew. That joint effort was just the beginning.

After county officials declared a state of emergency, firefighters from Spokane, Kennewick, Snohomish, Orcas Island and others joined the battle. Colfax High School agreed to house the crews and serve as a command center for the fires 1.5 miles to the east.

And Thursday, Whitman County contacted Christopher Tapfer, WSU’s emergency management coordinator, for assistance. Tapfer arranged with WSU Dining Services to provide about 150 meals Friday for the firefighters, WSU spokesman James Tinney wrote in an e-mail.

Colfax Mayor Norma Becker said residents were happy to see fire trucks in town from across the state, and appreciated firefighters’ hard work to keep the fire away from the city.

“If the wind had changed and came into Colfax,” she said, “we would have been in a very serious problem.”

Don Henderson, a Colfax City Council member, offered his feelings to fire officials at the briefing.

“All of you have our sincere, heartfelt thanks,” he said.

Fire Chief Jim Krouse, from Whitman County District 11, said he was impressed with the county-wide cooperation, which was coordinated by Whitcom, the emergency dispatch center for Whitman and Asotin counties, WSU, Pullman and Moscow.

“They made everything come together when the stuff hit the fan,” Krouse said.

He said he has confidence in state strike teams for any future emergencies.

The team effort was successful because of standardized training, Brautaset said. And it helped that the fire service in Washington is a “tight-knit community,” he said.

Nonetheless, the incident didn’t go off without any hitches.

Officials said sightseers Wednesday afternoon got in the way of fire trucks trying to get to the fires. Colfax Police and Whitman County Sheriff’s deputies were brought in to disperse the crowds.

And dusty roads made getting in and out of the area dangerous for fire crews, residents and onlookers.

“I’m very thankful,” Colfax Fire Chief Ralph Walter said. “We had some close calls and some near misses.”

Brautaset explained that the big smoke producers weren’t quickly put out because fighting them was too dangerous at first.

Crews had to be careful putting out a small dump that contained freon, tires and pesticides, he said. A train trestle and a grain elevator – the only two large structures destroyed – were also among those trouble spots firefighters had to let burn out.

“We just couldn’t put them into that environment until we had the right equipment to dig it out,” Brautaset said about the elevator firefight.

Now that the fire is under control, local crews are focusing on various hot spots, Krouse said. Wind could still blow embers onto unburnt material, and some hot spots are sneaky.

“You can get something that’s not smoking here,” he said, “and then in two or three days it’s smoking or maybe burning.”

Krouse said the fire probably won’t go out completely until the first snow.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Firefighters Spare Homes in Encino Hills Wildfire     On Saturday, August 26, 2006 at 2:05 PM, forty Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Arson Unit, five LAFD Helicopters, one EMS Battalion Captain, one LAFD Helitender, LAFD Emergency Air, one LAFD Rehab Air Tender, four LAFD Brush Patrols, eleven LAFD Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams and one LAFD Division Chief Officer Command Team, as well as eight Handcrews and two Helicopters from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, all under the direction of LAFD Assistant Chief Roderick Garcia responded to a Major Emergency Brush Fire near 4501 Encino Avenue in Encino.

Firefighters on the ground and in the air responded quickly to find five acres of medium to heavy brush burning in terrain surrounding the Encino Reservoir.

A mild off-shore breeze at first pushed the fire in a southwest direction towards more than a dozen homes in what proved to be a wind and terrain driven fire.

More than 250 Los Angeles Firefighters, nearly a quarter of the Department's on-duty force, were ultimately brought to battle flames in the steep and rugged terrain of the Santa Monica Mountains surrounding the 209 acre reservoir.

Seven water-dropping helicopters, including a high-impact Erickson Air-Crane Helitanker on it's first leased deployment of the local wildfire season, worked with immense precision to stop the spread of the fire, as ground crews flanked the flames.

A sudden shift in winds allowed some spot fires to hook at the south side of the reservoir, but their presence was short-lived in the face of an effective aerial assault and the onslaught of crews separating fuel from fire with handtools.

It was during this arduous phase of fire attack in thick chaparral that one Los Angeles County Fire Department Handcrew member sustained multiple bee stings, provoking a medical reaction and need for transport to Encino Hospital via LAFD Ambulance. His injury was not believed to be life-threatening.

No other injuries were reported.

Firefighters took full advantage of tactical pre-planning, including the factors of wind, terrain and historical fire behavior to ultimately spare any home from damage.

The fire, which consumed nearly sixty acres of vegetation, was fully contained in just three hours and thirty-two minutes. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.


Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

posted by LAFD Media and Public Relations @ 8/26/2006 11:31:00 PM

Wildfires Burning in Five States

August 27, 2006 2:00 p.m. EST

Nicole King - All Headline News Staff Writer

(AHN) - Wildfires are burning in five states. Most recently, evacuations were ordered Saturday for residents and tourists around the perimeter of a wildfire in southeast Washington state.

Officials say the fire is about 10 percent contained and has burned nearly 110 miles.

A wildfire in Idaho's Sawtooth National Recreation Area has burned more than six miles and has threatened about 70 homes. No evacuations have been ordered though.

Lightning sparked a fire in Oregon's southeast corner. So far, it's burned about 183 miles and is about 55 percent contained.

In California, a 60-acre fire is threatening six homes near a reservoir in the Santa Monica Mountains. The small brush fire has been contained.

And in Nevada, firefighters are battling two wildfires. A brush fire has burned nearly 21 miles north of Elko and is 85 percent contained after threatening 300 homes. Another fire burned nearly 35 miles and is 95 percent contained. Wildfires burned more than 78 miles in Elko County last week.

Wildfire burns at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch

LOS OLIVOS, Calif. A wildfire the burned 40 acres on Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch has been contained.

The fire surrounded the ranch's amusement park rides and came within a quarter-mile of the main residence after starting at about 2 p-m today.

Santa Barbara County Fire spokesman Keith Cullom says no structures caught fire at the 25-hundred acre estate.

Cullom says about 100 firefighters battled the blaze along with a pair of water-dropping helicopters.

Jackson is not at the house. He has been living in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Bahrain since being acquitted of child molestation charges last year.

In March, Jackson closed the main house at Neverland and laid off several of his employees.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Friday, Aug 25, 2006

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A federal firefighter in Idaho is facing arson charges linked to least one blaze in an act that may have been motivated by a desire to produce some firefighting work, officials said on Friday.

Levy Miller, 21, is in Lemhi County Jail, charged with starting an August 13 blaze on the outskirts of Salmon, an area of thick forests and
natural beauty, officials said. The half-acre blaze was snuffed out quickly by fire crews.

Lemhi County Sheriff Sam Slavin said Miller, who has worked as a firefighter with the federal Bureau of Land Management for two years, persuaded a Salmon teen to start the August 13 fire "to drum up business."

Miller is also a suspect in a series of 2003 fires that broke out in the Salmon-Challis National Forest near the Idaho-Montana border. "We're looking potentially at a lot of dollars in damages," Slavin said.

News of Miller's arrest comes at the height of the American West's wildfire season, with large tracts of Idaho, Montana and Washington State aflame amid worsening conditions.

There is a growing list of firefighters accused of arson in the treasured natural areas they were pair to protect.

A federal judge last month sentenced former U.S. Forest Service firefighter Craig Underwood to four months in prison after he pleased
guilty to starting three fires -- costing $2.5 million to extinguish -- in the Los Padres National Forest in California in 2004.

Fire managers ay an age-old irony associated with wildfires in the West is that the blazes pump millions into moribund local economies
in the form of jobs, federal firefighting dollars and the purchase of products and services by fire personnel.

Terry Edwards, deputy state fire marshal in Idaho, said "an excuse to get a paycheck" was often cited by firefighters as the reason
they set blazes.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman)


September 25, 2006

Near Los Angeles, the effort to contain the Day Fire in Los Padres National Forest is in its fourth week, the Los Angeles Daily News
reported. In the northern part of the state, the Bar Complex fire, formed by the merger of two wildfires in Shasta-Trinity National
Forest is less than half contained after two months, the San Jose. (CA) Mercury News said.

Almost 400,000 acres have burned around the state.

What hit the state was a combination of a wet spring that allowed grass to grow long and lush followed by a very dry summer that
dried out the new growth, the Mercury News said.

"The weather has definitely worked against us this year," Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection, told the News, "historically our busiest time is September and October."

United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Firefighters battle California Wildfire

Monday, September 25, 2006
(Los Padres National Forest)

Firefighters gained ground on Sunday in the battle against a wildfire that has burnt more than 500 square kilometres (200 square miles) in the Los Padres National Forest in California.

Gentler winds allowed firefighters to bring in more than 40 helicopters and airplanes, including a DC-10 modified to carry fire retardant.

Firefighters credited the jetliner with knocking back the edge of the fire that was creeping toward the town of Ojai.

The fire had grown to about 51,028 hectares (127,569 acres) since it broke out on September 4 but no homes have been destroyed nor any injuries been reported and the blaze was about 40 per cent contained.

Emergency services

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for Ventura County on Sunday evening, clearing the way for assistance from the governor's emergency services office and state funds for rebuilding and recovery.

Winds fluctuated on Sunday but were still tamer than in recent days, gusting at 65 kilometres-per-hour (40 miles-per-hour) compared with 80 kilometres-per-hour (50 miles-per-hour) on Saturday and shifting away from populated communities.

That lowered the risk of flames spreading and let more ground crews go to work.

Another blaze started by embers from the huge fire burned about 2,800 hectares (7,000 acres) in the canyons above Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, which sits between Ojai and Fillmore, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) north of Los Angeles.

The campus was evacuated late on Saturday. (AP)

By Matt Lait, Times Staff Writer
9:26 am. PDT, September 25, 2006

Firefighters today turned to hand crews, aircraft and bulldozers to battle the three-week-old Day fire that has consumed more than 134,000 acres.

After a quiet night, firefighters were hoping the calm winds would continue today at the brush fire north of Santa Paula.

The Day fire, which has burned 134,187 acres of the Los Padres National Forest since Labor Day, continued to threaten residences but had not
damaged any structures.

The fire is about 41% contained, officials said this morning and has cost $36.7 million.

Officials on Sunday again called for the voluntary evacuation of Thomas Aquinas College near Santa Paula and urged hundreds of other people
to leave their homes, although many chose to stay.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday declared a state of emergency for Ventura County.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has launched a large aerial assault, involving 27 helicopters, eight air tankers and a
modified DC-10 capable of dumping 12,000 gallons of retardant. Officials said the jet helped douse hot spots that were advancing on Ojai.

It's been very, very effective and very impressive," forestry agency spokesman Matt Streck said Sunday. "Each drop looks like it covers more
than half a mile of terrain."

More than 3,500 firefighters have been deployed.

Officials plan to brief residents on the fire today at the Santa Paula Community Center at 6:30 p.m.

Posted 9/16/2006  5:06 p.m. ET

A DC-10 jet drops a load of fire retardant on Sept. 24, 2006
on the Day fire near Ojai, Calif. The nation's largest blaze
has charred more than 220 square miles of the Los Padres
and Angeles National Forests.


Lockwood Valley, Calif. (AP) - Flames hopped a road Tuesday, forcing fire bosses to divert aircraft and strike teams to a mountain hamlet where rural
homes were in the path of a weeks-old, 143,000-acre wildfire.

An emergency call for fire retardant-dropping aircraft and additional strike teams went out just before noon as flames roared across Lockwood Valley
Road, which was serving as a firebreak, and moved toward homes in the remote area.

About 500 residents in the Lockwood Valley were earlier urged to evacuate the community.

"They are sending reinforcements," said Capt. Barry Parker of the Ventura County Fire Department.

Earlier, the Day Fire jumped 60-foot-wide bulldozer lines in Los Padres National Forest Monday night and burned another 2,000 to 3,000 acres
of chaparral on the northwestern edge of the fire, pushing its overall size to 223 square miles.

"It just jumped right over the thing. It was a shock," said Ed Linquist of the U.S. Forest Service.

That prompted the Lockwood Valley evacuation recommendation. It wasn't clear how many homeowners left the community 70 miles northwest
of Los Angeles.

Crews set backfires along a roadway about 1.5 miles from the community to serve as a firebreak. Some 45 fire engines were stationed in front of
structures to protect homes and scattered ranches before Tuesday's midday flare-up and call for reinforcements.

It's a tough fire to fight," fire spokesman Steve Mueller said.

The emergency was an unusual setback for a blaze that had been moving relatively slowly Monday with the dying of weekend Santa Ana winds.

The blaze, ignited on Labor Day by someone burning debris, was 43% contained.

More than 3,500 firefighters worked the blaze. Firefighting costs have reached $41.3 million.

Copyright 2006 - The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Wildfires threaten S. California homes




Fire crews kept watch on homes as a wildfire moved slowly and steadily through heavy brush yesterday in rural Southern California.

Low humidity threatened efforts to contain one of the largest and longest-burning wildfires in state history. But the winds were moderate, with no return of the hot, gusting Santa Anas that have driven flames the past two weekends.

"We're not out of the woods yet," said Dee Bechert, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.

The fire was 43 percent contained after burning 159,281 acres, or nearly 249 square miles, of wilderness in Los Padres National Forest. More than 4,400 firefighters were working to corral the blaze 70 miles north of Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, the flames crept within a half-mile of Lockwood Valley and other mountain communities. Firefighters spent the day clearing brush near houses and positioning equipment and hoses to fight the slow-moving flames. Crews aided by water-dropping aircraft cut fire lines.

The blaze has destroyed two barns, three trailers, a cabin and five vehicles, but firefighters were able to save 40 homes, an animal refuge and a Boy Scout camp, Bechert said.

"It was good day, the lines held for the most part in the Lockwood Valley area, but we're still nervous about the red flag warning" for extreme fire conditions in the area, she said.

Residents of several communities were urged to leave, but many chose to stay.

The fire has burned since Labor Day and flared several times, sometimes covering thousands of acres in hours. It was started by someone burning debris. Firefighting costs have topped $53 million.