RICHLAND, Wash.: “As workers began evaluating damage from last week’s fire at the Hanford nuclear reservation, aerial photos showed the blaze
“came awfully darn close” to several nuclear facilities, a spokesman for the complex said. Flames came within 1,000 feet of a shuttered reactor and within a half mile of buried high-level radioactive and chemical wastes, spokesman Mike Talbot said Monday. But no nuclear or chemical waste storage facilities were damaged by the 191,000-acre fire, he added. “We have a vegetation control program,” Talbot said. “There was nothing there to burn.” A highway and chemical retardant dropped from airplanes stopped the fire’s advance about a quarter-mile from some uranium waste barrels stored in a field. Flames raced across a uranium waste storage site and two dried-up waste ponds. But tests indicate there were no radiation releases, the state Department of Health has said.
The fire, in grass and sagebrush, destroyed some metal structures on part of the reservation where most human activities have been barred for decades,
Talbot said. A security checkpoint station also was damaged. “Other than that, we came through it OK,” he said. Talbot said it will take some time before damage estimates are available. The blaze destroyed 20 homes and scores of other buildings just south of Hanford. At its peak late Wednesday, about 7,000 people were evacuated. Many of Hanford’s more than 12,000 workers returned to their jobs Monday, although staffing was lower than normal because of the Independence Day Holiday. Hanford was created during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. It made plutonium for decades, generating th nation’s biggest volume of radioactive waste. Its primary mission now is cleaning up that waste.” (Source: New York Times)
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.
Dead fuel moisture responds solely to ambient environmental conditions and is critical in determining fire potential. Dead fuel moistures are classed by timelag. A fuel’s timelag is proportional to its diameter and is loosely defined as the time it takes a fuel particle to reach 2/3’s of its way to equilibrium with its local environment. Dead fuels in NFDRS have four timelag classes:
1-hr: Fine flashy fuels, less than 1/4″ (< 0.63 cm) diameter. Responds quickly to weather changes. Computed from observation time temperature, humidity and cloudiness.
10-hr: 1/4 to 1″ (0.63 to 2.54 cm) diameters. Computed from observation time temperature, humidty, and cloudiness, or may be a standard set of “10-Hr Fuel Sticks” that are weighed as part of the fire weather observation.
100-hr: 1 to 3″ (2.54 to 7.62 cm) diameter. Computed from 24 hour average boundary condition composed of day length, hours of rain, and daily temperature/humidity ranges.
1000-hr: 3 to 6″ (7.62 to 15.24 cm) diameter. Computed from a 7-day average boundary condition composed of day length, hours of rain, and daily temperature/humidity ranges.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a soil/duff drought index that ranges from 0 (no drought) to 800 (extreme drought) and is based on a soil capacity of 8 inches of water. Factors in the index are maximum daily temperature, daily precipitation, antecedent precipitation, and annual precipitation. KBDI = 0 – 200: Soil moisture and large class fuel moistures are high and do not contribute much to fire intensity. Typical of spring dormant season following winter precipitation. KBDI = 200 – 400: Typical of late spring, early growing season. Lower litter and duff layers are drying and beginning to contribute to fire intensity. KBDI = 400 – 600: Typical of late summer, early fall. Lower litter and duff layers actively contribute to fire intensity and will burn actively. KBDI = 600 – 800: Often associated with more severe drought with increased wildfire occurrence. Intense, deep burning fires with significant downwind spotting can be expected. Live fuels can also be expected to burn actively at these levels.
For further information on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) by Florida’s Division of Forestry / Forest Protection Bureau please refer to Keetch-Byram Drought Index Revisited: Prescribed Fire Applications.
Fire and Aviation Management Morning Report (3 July 2000) Northwest Large Fires Oregon: LUG NUT: This 1,600 acre lightning caused fire is burning 22 miles northeast of Fort Rock, Oregon on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Lakeview District. A burnout operation (setting fire inside a control line to burn vegetation up to the edge of the fire) was completed to secure a portion of the fireline. Difficulties include poor access due to large areas of lava fields. 214 people are assigned to this fire.
Alaska Area Large Fires
NATLARATLEN RIVER: This 8,600 acre fire is burning 20 miles north of Galena, Alaska, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Galena Zone. The fire is burning in tundra and spruce vegetation. No new information was reported. 90% of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 74 people are assigned to this fire.
TOLOVANA DOME: This lightning ignited 700 acre fire is burning 60 miles northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Tanana Zone. The fire is burning in black spruce and hardwoods. No new information was reported. 75% of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 72 people are assigned to this fire.
BEARPAW MOUNTAIN: The 13,612 acre fire is burning 100 miles southwest of Fairbanks, Alaska on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Tanana Zone. No new information was reported. 21 people are assigned to this fire.
ZITZIANA: This lightning ignited 79,291 acre fire is burning 85 miles west of Fairbanks on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Tanana Zone. The fire is burning in black spruce and hardwood vegetation. No new information was reported. 24 people are assigned to this fire.
Western Great Basin Area Large Fires
Nevada: RAMSEY: This 7,600 acre fire is burning near Fernley, Nevada, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Carson City Field Office. It is burning in grass, sagebrush, piñon pine and juniper vegetation types. Construction of fireline was slowed by steep and rocky terrain. 60 % of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 358 people are assigned to this fire.
EASTGATE: This 250 (reported yesterday as 650 acres) acre fire burned 60 miles east of Fallon on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Carson City Field Office. 100 % of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. This will be the last report unless new activity is reported.
KELLY CREEK: This 29,900 acre fire is burning 12 miles northeast of Golconda, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Winnemucca Field Office. Strong winds contributed to fire growth. 20 percent of the work has been completed to contain this fire. 150 people are assigned.
VIGUS: This 1,000 acre fire is burning near Austin, Nevada, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Battle Mountain Field
Office. The fire is burning actively in sagebrush and juniper fuels. 15% of the work necessary has been completed to contain this fire.
KENDLE TOO: This 850 acre lightning caused fire is burning 25 miles southwest of Caliente, Nevada on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Ely Field Office. The fire is burning in pinyon pine, juniper and sagebrush vegetation types. 35 percent of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 210 people are assigned to this fire.
EDWARDS CREEK: This 900 acre fire burned 70 miles east of Fallon, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Carson City Field Office. 100 % of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 50 people are assigned to this fire. This will be the last report unless new activity is reported.
Eastern Great Basin Large Fires
Idaho: CEDAR FIELD: This 1,800 acre fire is burning 10 miles southwest of American Falls. The fire is burning in grass and sagebrush near the Massacre Rocks State Park on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Upper Snake River District. 50 % of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 72 people are assigned to this fire. No new information was reported on this fire.
Utah: RABBIT CREEK: This 1,250 acre fire burned 36 miles east of Logan, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Salt Lake Field Office. 100% of the work has been completed to contain this fire. 66 people are assigned to this fire. This will be the last report unless new activity is reported.
SAGE VALLEY: This 1,000 acre fire is burning 20 miles southwest of Nephi, Utah, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management,
Richfield Field Office. Strong, gusty winds are hampering suppression efforts. 38 people are assigned to this fire.
Southern California Large Fires
BROOMSEDGE: This 1,008 acre grass fire is burning 30 miles southwest of Hilo, Hawaii, on public lands administered the National Park Service,
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Recent precipitation has aided suppression efforts. Helicopters dropping water from buckets are aiding fire
suppression efforts. 10 percent of the work has been completed to contain this fire. 89 people are assigned to this fire.
National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) Wildland Fire Update (3 July 2000)
Cooler temperatures the next few days may help firefighters in Nevada scrambling to contain several new fires. The Kelly Creek fire about 30 miles northeast of Winnemucca, Nevada, is the most challenging. However, firefighters and equipment are being continually reassigned to this fire as other fires in the area are contained.
Site protection is still the focus for fires burning in Alaska. The state currently has four large fires, of which two are nearly contained. See the Alaska Fire Service web site or call 907.356.5511 for more information.
A red flag warning has been issued in Utah today for strong winds and dry lightning. The strong, gusty winds are currently hampering firefighting efforts on a new fire 20 miles southwest of Nephi.
Very high to extreme fire danger indices were reported in Oregon, Alaska, California, Montana, Idaho, Utah,
Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Wyoming, and Colorado.
Large Wildland Fires in the United States, 3 July 2000.
(Source: National Interagency Fire Center)
Tab.1. Five-Year Wildland Fire Comparison Statistics Year-to-Date for the United States (3 July 2000)
(Source: National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)
As of 3 July 2000Number of Wildland FiresArea burntAcresHectars 2000 49,656 1,904,709 770,808 1999 47,706 1,244,983 503,827 1998 32,941 759,080 307,189 1997 32,540 843,224 341,241 1996 69,207 2,470,611 999,821
NIFC Incident Management Situation Report (3 July 2000)
Initial attack and large fire activity accelerated in the Rocky Mountain Area. New large fires were also reported in the Northern Rockies, Southern California, Southwest, and Eastern Great Basin Areas. Forecasted dry lightning and the increased human-caused fire risk associated with the holiday will increase the potential for fires today. The National Interagency Coordination Center processed orders for airtankers, lead planes, air attack aircraft, infrared aircraft, helicopters, engines, caterers, shower units, radio equipment, crews, and miscellaneous overhead. Very high to extreme fire danger indices were reported in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, California, South Dakota, Arizona, and New Mexico.
*** A RED FLAG WARNING IS POSTED IN THE SOUTHERN HALF OF UTAH FOR LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITIES, HIGH HAINES INDICES AND GUSTY WINDS ***
*** A RED FLAG WARNING IS POSTED IN SOUTHEASTERN IDAHO FOR STRONG WINDS ***
*** A FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS POSTED IN PORTIONS OF SOUTHERN WYOMING FOR LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITIES AND STRONG WINDS ***
*** A FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS POSTED IN WESTERN COLORADO FOR STRONG WINDS AND DRY LIGHTNING ***
Long-range, 30-day weather forecasts are predicting above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the southern tier of states from southern California to Florida and throughout the Midwest (see 30 and 90-day forecast maps).
NIFC Wildland Fire Potential Assessment (8 June to 6 July 2000): ALASKA – Potential: normal. Temperatures have been below normal and precipitation has been above normal for the last six weeks. May was the second coolest in the past 35 years, and green-up was a week or more later than usual. Currently south-central Alaska has the greatest fire potential. Thunderstorm activity should increase later this month and cause a normal amount of fire activity in the interior. NORTHWEST – Potential: Below normal to normal. Temperatures and precipitation have been normal for the past month. Live fuel moistures are above average and have been measured at 121% in central Oregon to 131% in eastern Washington. 1000 hour dead fuel moistures have been above normal in most of the area and generally are being measured from 28% in the west to 17% in the eastern regions. Low potential for fire occurrence and severity is expected for most of the area. In the lower elevations of eastern Washington and Oregon, predicted warmer and drier than normal weather conditions will lead to a normal potential for fires. CALIFORNIA – Potential: Normal to above normal. Precipitation has been below normal and temperatures have been above normal in southern California. In the north both temperature and precipitation have been normal. Some moderate drought conditions still exist in southern California. 1000 hour fuel moistures are normal for this time of year throughout the area. Precipitation received in June will be critical to determining the rest of the season for northern California. The May pattern of less marine influence on southern California will likely continue through June, promoting the likeliness of above average temperatures and low humidities. NORTHERN ROCKIES – Potential: Normal. Precipitation has been below normal and temperatures have been above normal during the last month in most of the area except for northern Idaho, where both have been normal. Live fuel moisture is below normal east of the Continental Divide. 1000 hour dead fuel moisture is running 9 to 12 percent below normal and is measured at 13 to 21%. Eastern and central Montana are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, but wetting rains at the end of May have brought some relief. If normal June rains occur, fire occurrence will be average. GREAT BASIN – Potential: Normal to above normal. Temperatures have been above normal during the past month while precipitation has been normal to below normal through the area. Snowpack is 45 to 80 percent of normal in the higher elevations, and most areas are reporting that they are two to three weeks ahead of normal fire season, because of the mild winter. Frost-killed fuels are a concern in eastern Utah. Fine fuel carryover from the past several years is contributing to increased risk of fire activity in Nevada. 1000 hr fuel moistures were measured at 10 to 25% throughout the Great Basin and are 10% below normal in Nevada. Moderate to severe drought conditions are being reported in both southern Nevada and southern Utah. SOUTHWEST – Potential: Above normal. Precipitation has been below normal everywhere except in southeastern Arizona, where it has been normal. Temperatures have been above normal in all parts of the region, as much as 5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Long range forecasts call for above normal temperatures to persist during this month. Long range outlook indicates above normal precipitation for Arizona and New Mexico. 1000 hour fuel moistures are below normal in the central and southern regions and normal in the north. Live fuel moisture is in the 50 to 90 percent range everywhere except the northern portions of both state where live fuel moistures are measured in the 70 to 110 percent ranges. PDI indicates that moderate to severe drought conditions continue throughout all of Arizona and all except the northeast part of New Mexico. ROCKY MOUNTAIN – Potential: Normal to above normal. Precipitation has been normal to below normal and temperatures have been normal to above normal in the past month. Live fuel moistures have been normal except in southern and western Colorado, where they have been up to 40 percent below normal. 1000 hour fuel moistures are below normal for this time of year at 7 to 12% in the west and 10 to 14% in the east. Fire activity is expected to be above normal in southwestern Colorado and in southwestern Wyoming. Due to the anticipated weather pattern where waves of moisture move through about once a week, fire events should be of high intensity but relatively short duration. EASTERN – Potential: Normal to above normal. Temperatures and precipitation have been normal in most of the Eastern Area, except in the Upper Great Lakes region, where precipitation has been below normal. 1000 hr fuels are being measured in the 19 to 25% ranges, approximately 3% below normal for this time of year. Moderate to severe drought conditions exist in the central Midwest and the upper Great Lakes region. Green-up and increased precipitation over the past two weeks have significantly reduced fire danger everywhere except in the Upper Great Lakes area. SOUTHERN -Potential: Normal to above normal. Temperatures have been above normal and precipitation has been normal to below normal through most of the area last month. Approximately one third of the area has a soil moisture deficit of six inches or more. Long-term precipitation anomalies are substantial over most of the region. Southern Louisiana, Georgia, western South Carolina, and central Florida all report extreme drought conditions. 1000 hour fuel moistures are being measured at 7% in parts of Florida and around 20% in the rest of the area.
Temperatures and Precipitation reflect conditions over the past four to six weeks. The long range forecast is for the next 30 days. Above and below normal is indicated above in the narrative, areas not mentioned fall in the climatology category which means there are equal chances of being below normal(33.3%), normal (33.3%) or above normal (33.3%).
Map describing the wildland fire potential (8 June – 6 July 2000) for areas throughout the country.
(Source: National Interagency Fire Center)
Remarks on Prescribed Burning
At this time of the year prescribed burning operations are conducted routinely.
Fire is an important natural tool for ecosystem management. It can reduce dense vegetation improving wildlife habitat and lessening the potential for large, wildfire disasters. Land managers are directed to prepare a prescribed fire/burn plan for every area of public land that can burn. Some areas require total suppression while others will benefit from a wildland fire. Those areas that will benefit from a fire can be treated by a prescribed fire.
Especially, for the moment, in the southern and southeastern regions of the United States prescribed fire activities will be carried out in the following weeks and months. In this case, fire signals on satellite images can be traced back to this kind of land management activities.
In the Prescribed Fire Position Paper of the Forest Protection Bureau by the Division of Forestry in Florida, prescribed fire activity is described as a land management application that is essential to the practice of forestry, management of wildlife, preservation of endangered plant and animal species, improvement of range conditions and reduction of wildfire damage in the wildland/urban interface areas. While there is general public and landowner concern with increased smoke, reduced air quality, and liability; the general public and landowners benefit significantly from the reduction of devastating wildfire, improved wildlife habitat and forage, preservation of endangered and threatened plant and animal species, and improved management of forest resources. The prospect of severe reductions in the utilization of this management tool is of major concern to Florida’s natural resource managers and conservationists due to the subsequent loss of derived public and private benefits. They suggest the need for legislative attention.