GFMC: Forest Fires in the United States, 5 July 2000
Forest Fires in the United States
5 July 2000
Two wildfires burn in Colorado
Two wildfires were reported on Tuesday in remote areas of western Colorado. The fires have already consumed 11,500 acres of land and are expected to grow. Officials reported no injuries and no structures were immediately threatened. Both fire began on Monday and are confined mostly to federal lands. The Buster Flats fire started in Dinosaur National Monument in the northwest corner of the state and moved into the nearby Diamond Breaks Wilderness Study Area and a small portion of the Brown’s Park Wildlife Refuge. Approximately 9,000 acres have burned. To the south, the Cone Mountain fire scorched at least 2,500 acres of land some outside the city of Gateway.
(report from CNN)
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.
Fire danger maps for conterminous US for 4 July (observation time) and a forecast for 5 July 2000.
(Source: Fire Behavior Research Work Unit, Missoula)
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.
10-HR Fuel Moisture
100-HR Fuel Moisture
1000-HR Fuel Moisture
Fuel moisture maps for conterminous US, 4 July 2000
(Source: Fire Behavior Research Work Unit, Missoula)
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.
Keetch-Byram Drought Index Maps for conterminous US, 4 July 2000
(Source: Fire Behavior Research Work Unit, Missoula)
Fire and Aviation Management Morning Report (4 July 2000)
BUSTER FLATS: This 4,000 acre fire is burning on public lands National Park Service in the Dinosaur National Monument, 70 miles west of Craig, Colorado. This fire is burning in pinyon pine and juniper. Gusty winds, rugged terrain and low humidities have contributed to rapid spread of the fire. Several campgrounds in the area have been evacuated as a precaution. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 37 people are assigned to this fire.
CONE MOUNTAIN: This 2,000 acre fire is burning 38 miles southwest of Grand Junction, Colorado, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Grand Junction District. It is burning in ponderosa pine, pinyon pine and juniper fuels. Observed fire behavior includes spot fires ahead of the main fire and 80 foot flame lengths. Historic structures are threatened. 45 people are assigned to the fire.
BLACK BUTTE: This 600 acre fire is burning near Rock Springs Wyoming on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Rock Springs District. This fire is burning in grass, sagebrush, and juniper. Strong winds are hindering containment efforts. 35 people are assigned to this fire.
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. Crews are preparing a contingency fireline (fireline that is constructed away from the main fire) and constructing safety zones (areas that are cleared of vegetation and are used by firefighters in the event of a fire escape). 214 people are assigned to this fire.
NATLARATLEN RIVER: This 8,600 acre fire burned 20 miles north of Galena, Alaska, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Galena Zone. 100% of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 67 people are assigned to this fire. This will be the last update unless new activity is reported.
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. The fire received rain throughout the day yesterday, assisting crews in making good progress on building fireline. 90% of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 67 people are assigned to this fire.
BEARPAW MOUNTAIN: The 13,249 acre fire is burning 100 miles southwest of Fairbanks, Alaska on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Tanana Zone. Winds gusting to 20 mph caused the fire to burn actively. Crews have completed the installation of sprinkler systems near two cabin sites. Cabin protection operations continue. 23 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. The fire continues to show activity. Additional smokejumpers parachuted into the area to cut line and set up hose lays around cabins on Wilderness Lake. Cabin protection operations are also underway along the Kantishna River, the Tanana River, and around Kindanina and Geskakmina Lakes. 55 people are assigned to this fire.
RAMSEY: This 7,600 acre fire burned near Fernley, Nevada, 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. 358 people are assigned to this fire. This will be last update unless new activity is reported.
KELLY CREEK: This 41,000 acre fire is burning 12 miles northeast of Golconda, Nevada, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Winnemucca Field Office. Crews are making progress toward containment, despite strong winds and low humidities. 60 percent of the work has been completed to contain this fire. 426 people are assigned.
VIGUS: This 1,200 acre fire is burning near Austin, Nevada, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Battle Mountain Field Office. Crews are making good progress constructing fireline. 70% of the work necessary has been completed to contain this fire. 221 people are assigned to this fire.
KENDLE TOO: This 850 acre lightning caused fire burned 25 miles southwest of Caliente, Nevada on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Ely Field Office. 100 % percent of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 210 people are assigned to this fire. This will be the last update unless new activity is reported.
CEDAR FIELD: This 4,159 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. High winds are challenging containment of this fire. 90 % of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 64 people are assigned to this fire.
SAGE VALLEY: This 2,500 acre fire burned 20 miles southwest of Nephi, Utah, on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, Richfield Field Office. 100% of the work necessary to contain this fire has been completed. 97 people are assigned to this fire. This will be the last update unless new activity is reported.
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. Crews have constructed one mile of fireline. 50 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 (4 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. 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, 4 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 2000 Number of Wildland Fires Area burnt Acres Hectars 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 (5 July 2000)
New large fires were reported in the Rocky Mountain, Eastern Great Basin, and Southern California Areas. With cooler temperatures, initial attack activity decreased in all the geographic areas. The National Interagency Coordination Center processed orders for helicopters, lead planes, air attack aircraft, engines, radio equipment, crews, and miscellaneous overhead. Very high to extreme fire danger indices were reported in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
Colorado will have mostly sunny skies in the morning, becoming partly cloudy by afternoon with locally strong winds. High temperatures will be in the 70’s in the mountains and 80 to 90 at lower elevations. Winds will be southwest at 10 to 20 mph east of the Continental Divide and 15 to 30 mph in the western part of the state. Minimum relative humidities will be from 5 to 20 percent.
Wyoming and Montana will be partly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms. High temperatures will be between 65 and 75 in the mountains and in the 80’s in the valleys. Winds will be northwest to southwest at 10 to 20 mph. Minimum afternoon relative humidities will be 10 to 20 percent except at higher elevations and around thunderstorms, where humidities will be higher.
Utah will be sunny and locally windy. High temperatures will be in the 70’s in the mountains and 85 to 105 in the valleys and deserts. Winds will be south to southwest at 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Relative humidities will be 5 to 15 percent in the deserts and up to 30 percent in the mountains.
Idaho will be partly cloudy with isolated afternoon thunderstorms in the mountains. High temperatures will be in the 60’s in the mountains and 70 to 80 at lower elevations. Winds will be northwest to southwest at 10 to 25 mph. Minimum relative humidities will be 15 to 30 percent.
Nevada will be partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Precipitation with the thunderstorms may occur over the Sierra Nevada. High temperatures will range from 55 at high elevations to near 90 in the desert areas. Winds will be from the west to southwest at 15 to 30 mph. Relative humidities will be 10 to 25 percent in the deserts and 30 to 40 percent in the mountains.
California will have morning coastal fog, but otherwise will be mostly sunny. Isolated afternoon showers and thunderstorms are possible in the northern part of the state. High temperatures will be in the 60’s along the coast, 75 to 85 inland, and up to 105 in the deserts. Winds will be west to southwest at 10 to 25 mph. Minimum relative humidities will be 15 to 35 percent inland and higher along the coast.
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).
30 and 90-day temperature and precipitation forecast maps (June and June to August 2000)
(Source: National Weather Service, Boise, Idaho)
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.
Another report on nation-wide prescribed burning in the U.S.A. was published in International Forest Fire News No.19 (September 1998).
A set of photographic documents on prescribed burning techniques and objectives in the Southeast can be visited in our photo archive.