GFMC: Forest Fires in the United States

Forest Fires in the United States

25 June 2002

Wildland Fire Update
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) based in Boise (Idaho) provides key information on current wildland fire situations, related information and background materials. The following information is updated daily and can be accessed directly:

  • State-by-State daily and year-to-date summary of fire activities
  • Year-to-date State-by-State total number of wildland fires and area burned (table)
  • Daily locations of large fires (map)

The National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC)  provides daily situation reports. These reports include:

  • Incident Management Situation Reports (fires and area burned reported to NICC). The files include current, previous and archived reports
  • Prescribed Fire and Wildland Fire Use (year-to-date fires and area burned reported to NICC, posted weekly on Monday mornings)

Archived NICC Incident Management Reports (recent daily reports and archived daily reports 1994-1997) are provided by the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI)

Fire Weather & Fire Danger Information
The Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) is a contribution of “The Fire Behavior Research Work Unit”, Missoula (Montana USA). The broad area component of the Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) generates maps of selected fire weather and fire danger components.

Fire Danger (Potential) is a normalized adjective rating class across different fuel models and station locations. It is based on information provided by local station managers about the primary fuel model, fire danger index selected to reflect staffing level, and climatological class breakpoints. Low danger (Class 1) is green and extreme potential (Class 5) is red.

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Fire danger maps for the United States for 24June 2002 (observation time) and 25 June 2002 (forecast)
(Source: WAFS)

Dead fuel moisture responds solely to ambient environmental conditions and is critical in determining fire potential. Dead fuel moistures are classed by timelag.

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10-HR Fuel Moisture

100-HR Fuel Moisture

1000-HR Fuel Moisture

Fuel moisture maps for conterminous US, 24 June 2002
(Source: WAFS)

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a soil/duffdrought index. Factors in the index are maximum daily temperature, dailyprecipitation, antecedent precipitation, and annual precipitation. The indexranges from 0 (no drought) to 800 (extreme drought) (details).

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Keetch-Byram Drought Index Maps for conterminous US, 24 June2002
(Source: WAFS)

Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI)
The following significant events were identified by Satellite Analysis Branch meteorologists and reviewed by the OSEI support team of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

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NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 POES AVHRR LAC satellite images,
LEFT: Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning in Arizona. The Rodeo Fire has burned 205,000 acres three miles north of Cibecue,AZ and was 0% contained. The Chediski Fire, just to the west, has scorched 100,000 acres and was also 0% contained. This information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Incident Management Situation Report from 06/24/2002.
CENTRE: Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning in Colorado and Utah. The Pinyon Ridge Fire has burned 1,200 acres west of Craig, CO and was 15% contained. The Missionary Ridge Fire has scorched 63,466 acres in San Juan National Forest and was 30% contained. This information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Incident Management Situation Report from 06/24/2002
RIGHT: Burn scares (indicated by the yellow arrows) are visible in this MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) image from fires burning in Colorado. The Hayman Fire has burned 137,000 acres in Pike National Forest, CO and was 69% contained. The Coal Seam Fire has charred 12,209 acres four miles west of Glenwood Springs, CO and was 90% contained. This information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Incident Management Situation Report from 06/24/2002.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

Latest Satellite Image

Colorado, Utah,
New Mexico


The image is showing heat signatures and smoke plumes in theUS, 24 June 2002.
Source: MODIS

Firefighters make first progress against Arizona blaze
By Jeff Mitchell, Reuters
Tuesday, June 25, 2002

SHOW LOW, Ariz. — Firefighters battling a huge wildfire raging just outsidethis Arizona town said Monday they were getting a handle on the blaze and hopedto prevent a “wall of flames” from roaring across the small mountaincommunity.

A smoky haze blanketed parts of Show Low, hampering airoperations by fire crews massed to fight the biggest wildfire in Arizona statehistory, now burning just a mile away from the town center.
But officials said the fire had slowed and that newly cut fire breaks and goodweather conditions were helping to tame the massive blaze that has raged out ofcontrol in the eastern Arizona high country about 150 miles northeast ofPhoenix.
“We’re going to get a handle on this fire. We’re beginning to get the upperhand,” said Jim Paxon, a fire spokesman. “Mother Nature can still dealus a bunch of jokers and strange cards, but we’re going to continue thedetermined fight to catch this fire and put it out.”
The fire, which began last Tuesday, now covers more than 331,000 acres. It hasburned some 329 homes and 16 businesses and forced an estimated 30,000 people toevacuate.
Paxon said firefighters hoped to get their first degree of containment on thewildfire later Monday and said that fire lines appeared to be holding the blazeback from a full frontal assault on Show Low. But flying embers remain a seriousthreat, and firefighters are gearing up for a series of quick strikes aimed atdousing any smaller fires that might be sparked in town.
“We’re feeling a lot better about it,” said Bill Jackson, a firespecialist working at the main firefighting camp. “We’re going to have someproblems with spotting, and as long as we can stay on top of that, we’ve got arelatively decent chance of keeping it from coming into Show Low.”

Show Low, whose 8,000 residents were told to leave Saturday, remained asmoky ghost town, with police patrolling the deserted streets, and fire andemergency vehicles the only traffic on the roads.
About 2,200 people are waging war against the fire, attacking the blaze withabout a dozen helicopters and 15 air tankers used to drop flame retardant.
The Federal Aviation Administration opened a temporary air traffic controlcenter in Show Low to direct the air operation, one of the largest ever mountedin the state. Officials said more equipment and crews were coming, includingseveral “type one” management teams used for top level wildfireemergencies. The Arizona fire, which became the largest wildfire in the nationwhen two separate blazes merged Sunday, now measures some 520 square miles, anarea bigger than the city of Los Angeles.
Fire officials said the battle against the fire was helped Monday by favorableweather conditions, with little wind and moderate temperatures. Humidity,however, remained extremely low — exacerbating tinder-dry conditions in aregion which, like much of the West, is gripped by drought. Show Low has seenonly about one-quarter of its normal rainfall since September.

Show Low, which was named for the winning hand in a card game between twohomesteaders gambling for land in the 1870s, has long been a magnet for touristseager to enjoy some of Arizona’s largest piñon pine forests.
Several dozen Show Low residents have ignored warnings by authorities anddecided to stay behind, trying to protect their homes until the last possiblemoment. Scott Heineman, who has lived in the area for 25 years, said he isadopting a wait-and-see approach to the fire that is about two miles from hismobile home. “I’m sitting here and waiting right now,” said Heineman,32. “I’m doing all that I can to save what I have here. We’ll have to seewhat happens.”
But others obeyed the evacuation order, packing their belongings into their carsand trucks and heading for Red Cross shelters, motels, or the homes of friends.”When you see cloud coming out of the hill, you don’t hesitate,” saidLinda Daniel, who left the town with her husband and two basset hounds.”You always know there’s a risk when you live in an area where there arepine trees,” she said. “But it goes with the territory when you livein the mountains.”
Donna Caldwell, another Show Low resident, packed up her six dogs, five cats,and two horses before leaving with her husband after receiving the evacuationwarning. “I would like to go back and see my home standing there, but ifnot, we’ll rebuild and we’ll go on,” she said. “I can tell you it’sgoing to leave a scar, a big scar.”
To the north in Colorado, officials reported progress on containing the Haymanfire about 55 miles southwest of Denver, which was about 69 percent containedafter charring 137,000 acres.
Source: ENN

For more information on the recent fire situation see: Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics ,especially  several articles referring to the situation in Colorado.

Long-range weather forecasts
National Weather Service
Long-range, 30-day weather forecasts are predicting above-normal temperatures for the southern tier of states from southern California to Florida and throughout the Midwest (see 30 and 90-day forecast maps).

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30 and 90-day temperature and precipitation forecast maps (June2002 and June to August 2002)
(Source: National Weather Service)

The Florida Division of Forestry gives the following long-range Wildfire Season Forecast September – March 2002  for Florida:
“A return to near normal conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean marks the end of the prolonged La Niña event that brought very active fire seasons to the state the past few years. Normal to slightly warmer sea surface temperatures in the Pacific will bring us our first “normal” winter in a while, and if sea surface temperatures continue to slowly warm we may get above normal rainfall this winter.”

For further information see: Wildfire Season Forecast of the Florida Division of Forestry
For further information you may also see to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

For background information on the Southern Area see the Edited Version of the Southern Area Intelligence Briefing Paper for 22 April 2001.

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