Wildfires in Florida: 20 April 1999

Wildfires in Florida

20 April 1999

Our GFMC Correspondent John Anderson (Calgary) provided us with the newest report from the New York Times. The whole article from 20 April 1999 can be accessed at: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/a/AP-Florida-Fires.html
The following lines summarize here the content of this important news.

In the eastern Everglades late last week the largest of at least 2,515 fires this year in Florida have burned 130,000 acres (52,609 ha) and the wildfire could devour another 40,000 acres (16,000 ha)  before it might be under control. Fires – even large ones – are not unnormal in the Everglades ecosystem. However, the wildfire enlarges and stretches with surprisingly rapid growth all over the region. Heavy wind and continuing dry weather conditions in the coming days making new fires quick to start and difficult to fight. During the December-through-April dry season, rainfall levels have been 90 percent below normal .

The reason for the origin of this fire could possibly be a heat ignition by a vehicle’s catalytic converter.

Patricia Zengerle (Reuters) wrote in the news headlined, “Everglades Are Ablaze In Parched Florida”: “Firefighters have set dozens of backfires, fighting fire with fire by dropping thousands of small balls filled with incendiary chemicals across the Everglades sawgrass. They also positioned tanker trucks along the closed highway in an attempt to keep the blaze away from southern Florida’s cities”. With these barriers, created with controlled burns, firefighters hope to control the fire.

The blaze posed no threat to homes, businesses or other infrastructures. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. However, smoke emissions had  influence to the people´s health, especially those who suffer under asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Further had the fire a lasting effect to the traffic. The fires have shut down for a third day, since Saturday, the south Florida’s main east-west highway, Interstate 75 (I-75), which is Florida’s primary highway connecting south Florida’s east and west coast and threatens an Indian reservation.

The Associated Press (New York Times) wrote further: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday that it was adding the Everglades fire and another blaze in the Panhandle to a list of fires chosen for fire suppression assistance. The announcement brought to six the number of Florida fires recently approved for this type of federal aid.”

Firefighters also were busy in northern Florida Monday as flames singed 600 to 1,000 acres (400 ha).

Florida’s fire season is not expected to end before mid-May. The rain which swept through the state over last weekend was too little to stop the fire front.

For further top news stories regarding the fires in Florida, please also refer to following websites:

OSEI provided the newest satallite images with the NOAA AVHRR Sensor on 18 and 19 April 1999.

clcik here to enlarge (894 KB) click here to enlarge (755 KB) click here to enlarge (980 KB)

Fig.1., 2. and 3. NOAA images of vegetation fires in Florida on 18 and 19 April 1999
(Source: NOAA http://www.osei.noaa.gov/)

In Fig.1. are heat signatures (red spots) located from areas of fire burning in the Florida Panhandle and in the Everglades. The area of fire in the Everglades is much larger and has burned over 70,000 acres (28,300 ha). The pink color is saturating of bodies of water due to solar reflection.  Fig. 2. shows bright red spots and blue haze extending from hot spots from areas of fire burning in Florida and Georgia. There are two main areas of fire in Florida: one in the Panhandle south of Tallahassee, the other, much larger, area in the Everglades. There is also visible a hot spot and smaoke plume area in southeastern Georgia.

(For a complete 1999 Wildland Fire Season Outlook please visit the NIFC homepage http://www.nifc.gov/news/nfn.html)

The Florida Forest Protection Bureau reports for 18 April 1999, 37 Fires for 21,121 acres (8,547 ha). The year-to-date statistics shows 2,515 fires which have burned 130,093 acres (52,646 ha). For a detailed report on the fire activities in Florida, refer to the last days Narrative Report on the Florida fire situation provided by the Florida Forest Protection Bureau.

(this report can be accessed at: http://state.vipnet.org/dof/firesitr.html)

Alabama Interagency Coordination Center (AL-AIC): Received rain across the state yesterday morning, as much as 2 inches in the northwest corner and as little as .02 inches in the southeast corner. Southeast Alabama is 7″ below normal rainfall year to date. Winds are currently 20-25 mph. RH predicted for today at 25-30 mph with wind out of the west at 15-20 mph.
State of Alabama (AL-ALS): 22 fires for 1,392 acres, 04/11-14.
NFs in Alabama (AL-ALF): 5 fires for 50 acres, 04/15. Shoal Creek RD had 5 arson fires for a total of 50 acres – then received rain. KBDI on the Conecuh Ranger RD is fast approaching 500.
Little River Canyon NRA (AL-LRP): Accomplished 1 Rx burn for 25 acres.
Bon Secour NWR (AL-BOR): Fire danger high.
Choctaw NWR (AL-CHR): Fire danger high.
Efaula NWR (AL-EFR): Fire danger high.

State of Arkansas (AR-ARS): 13 fires for 173 acres, 04/13-14. No fires reported yesterday. No report from Oklahoma State.

Georgia Interagency Coordination Center (GA-GIC): High winds in behind will dry fuels very quickly.
State of Georgia (GA-GAS): 86 fires for 782 acres, 04/15.
Chattahoochee-Oconee NFs (GA-CHF): Some rain over parts of the Forest, ranging from .003 to .51.
Cumberland Island NP (GA-CIP): Fire danger high.

Kentucky Interagency Coordination Center (KY-KIC): Received between .50-1.00 inches of rain over the last 24 hours. We are expecting low RHs and gusty winds today.
State of Kentucky (KY-KYS): Fire danger high.
Daniel Boone NF (KY-DBF): Mayberry Kid Fire contained at 100% for 150 acres located in Peabody, KY. Fire was monitored yesterday and was controlled at 1200.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHS (KY-ALP): Fire danger high.
Cumberland Gap NHP (KY-CGP): Fire danger high.
Mammoth Cave NP (KY-MCP): Fire danger high.

No fire activity reported.

Mississippi Interagency Coordination Center (MS-MIC): Today mostly cloudy and breezy with highs in the 60-65. With gusty northwest winds at 15-25 mph.
State of Mississippi (MS-MSS): 16 fires for 281 acres, 04/14.
NFs in Mississippi (MS-MNF): 2 fires for 3 acres, 04/14.

North Carolina Interagency Coordination Center (NC-NCC): The rain received yesterday was helpful but with the predicted winds for the next few days we are not out of danger.
State of North Carolina (NC-NCS): Fire danger high.
NFs in North Carolina (NC-NCF): Fire danger high.

South Carolina Interagency Coordination Center (SC-SCC): Scattered showers received in the mountains and piedmont. No precip received on the coast.
State of South Carolina (SC-SCS): Fires on this report occurred Wednesday.
Francis-Marion & Sumter NFs (SC-FMF): 1 fire for 1 acre, 04/14. Asheville Hotshots took initial action fire was contained at 1 acre.

Tennessee Interagency Coordination Center (TN-TIC): Slight change of showers through the weekend. Helicopter 15B will move to Oke today. Tanker #06 will move to TLH along with Lead 67.
Cherokee NF (TN-CNF): Near .5″ rain over Forest today will keep danger low to moderate.
Big South Fork NRRA (TN-BSP): Fire danger high.
Obed Wild and Scenic River (TN-OWP): Fire danger high.

No fire activity reported.

Virginia Interagency Coordination Center (VA-VIC): Received light rain across most of the state preventing new starts.
State of Virginia (VA-VAS): 9 fires for 146 acres, 04/14.
George Washington and Jefferson NFs (VA-VAF): South end of Forest received 0.6 inches and north end received from 0.05 inches to 0.10 inches. Fire danger is low.

The INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SITUATION REPORT latest update was on 16 April 1999, which can be accessed at: http://www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.html)

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