Wildfires in Florida: 23 April 1999

Wildfires in Florida

23 April 1999

The fires in the Everglades are contained and under control. The wildfire was finally contained on Thursday. The extensive fires have been deleted by fire breaks. Due to the fire management concept of creating barriers with channels, dams and a four-lane highway, the fire was prevented from a further spreading. After five days, fire department people have brought the devastating forest fire in the Everglades marshes under control. There are merely smaller fires in some places.

The fire which had spread to an Indian reservation on Monday destroyed a huge grass and marsh area. This fire in the Everglades was the largest one of a whole row of fires in Florida in this year.

The rapid and unpredictable wind conditions especially aided the fire to become the largest of at least 2,600 wildfires that have burned 240,000 acres (97,124 ha) woods and grass landscape in Florida. The burned sawgrass area is estimated to be 24 miles long and 15 miles wide. Burn scars are also visible on the NOAA satellite images shown below.

The conservation authorities explained that most animals would have presumably survived the fires in the Everglades national park. The conflagration has for the long term even positive effects on nature since the fires supported the regeneration process of the Everglades marshes.

The fires had ignited by a too heated catalyst of a car presumably and spread fast due to the unusual dryness in Florida last week. About 35 per cent of the fires have presumably been put on purpose by arsonists.

A state-wide health advisory was issued on Wednesday, after the smoke emissions increased, which have serious effects to the health conditions of the human life.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast of the National Weather Service predicted continuing dry weather conditions with no significant rainfall, so that the fire danger is still very high.

To support the local fire-fighters, other fire-fighters have been brought in from California, North Carolina, Arizona, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

As well as the Everglades fire were contained in other parts of national forests, such as in Apalachicola and Osceola area were burning under control.

Our GFMC Correspondent John Anderson (Calgary) supported us, additional to the above mentioned information, with the up-to-date news, that Governor Bush seeks government help for the 67 counties in which fire had done damage.

The officials in Florida are of great concern about the current situation, because the fires burn such a huge area, which was of last year date-to-year statistic, only 9,000 acres (3,600 ha).

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

OSEI provided the newest satallite images with the NOAA AVHRR Sensor on 22 April 1999.

clcik here to enlarge (221 KB)

Fig.1. NOAA images of vegetation fires in Florida on 22 April 1999
(Source: NOAA http://www.osei.noaa.gov/)

Fig.1. shows a burn scar (dark area) from fires in the Everglades of southern Florida. Note the dark red area in the northwest portion of the burn scar. This indicates that fires or smoldering ground are present in this area. At the time of this image, news reports indicate that those fire areas are contained and under control.

click here to enlarge (799 KB)             click here to enlarge (224 KB)            click here to enlarge (KB)

Fig.2.,3. and 4. NOAA images of vegetation fires in Florida and Southeastern United States on 22 April 1999
(Source: NOAA http://www.osei.noaa.gov/)

Fig. 2. shows heat signatures (red spots) and smoke (blue haze) from areas of fire burning in southeastern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. The area of fire in Georgia is quite large and the smoke covers two counties entirely and at least parts of nine others. Fig.3. shows a closer look at the two fire areas in southeastern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. A look at the smoke (yellow) coverage from these fires with Wakulla and Carlton County overlays in each state is shown in Fig. 4.

(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 20 April 1999, 16 Fires. The year-to-date statistic shows that  2,631 fires have burned more than 243,837 acres (98,677 ha) in Florida. 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.

The SOUTHERN AREA COORDINATION CENTER REPORT (20 April 1999) can be accessed at: http://state.vipnet.org/dof/firesitr.htm)

The INCIDENT MANAGEMENT SITUATION REPORT was updated on 21 April 1999, which can be accessed at: http://www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.html)
It´s content can summarized as follows:

Fire activity continues in Southern Area due to red flag conditions. Florida is seeing fire behavior similar to that experienced last year. The National Coordination Center processed orders for aircraft, six crews, equipment, and a Type I Overhead Team.

HICKORY ISLAND, Okefenokee NWR. This fire is burning near Folkston, GA. Inaccessible terrain and heavy fuels are contributing to control problems. Acreage change due to a typographical error.
OWL CREEK, National Forests in Florida. A Type I team (Melton) is assigned to this fire and the Cow House fire. Fire activity was stable yesterday with minimal movement. Very low humidities and moderate winds have hampered control efforts.
COW HOUSE, National Forests in Florida. A Type I team (Melton) is assigned to this and the Owl Creek fire. This fire is located approximately 20 miles south of Tallahassee. Interior islands and swamp fuels continued to burn yesterday. Extremely low humidities, high winds and drought conditions are contributing to suppression problems.
SINGECAT, National Forests in North Carolina. This fire is approximately 30 miles east of Asheville and is burning in steep, pine forest. Line construction and improvement continues. Helicopters assisted ground forces by dropping water on hot spots.
CYPRESS CREEK, National Forests in Florida. This fire is near Lake City, Florida. No other information available at this time.

A Red Flag warning is in effect for most areas in Florida this afternoon. The state will experience mostly sunny conditions with highs in the mid 80’s and southwest winds reaching 10 to 15 mph.
There is a Red Flag warning for most of South Carolina today. Expect sunny skies with high temperatures in the lower to mid 80’s. The mountains and coast will encounter temperatures in the 70’s.
Georgia will be partly sunny today and highs are expected to be in the 80’s.
North Carolina will be partly sunny with highs in the 70’s to lower 80’s. The far northeastern portion of the state will experience temperatures in the upper 60’s.
A Red Flag warning is in effect for the southern and eastern portions of New Mexico today, with a fire weather watch in effect for the rest of the state.
Conditions will be fair to partly cloudy and windy, with continued warm weather in the south. It will be cooler in the north, with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mountains and the north should reach the 50’s to lower 70’s, with 80’s expected elsewhere. The southern lowlands will reach highs in the mid 90’s.
Texas has a wind advisory in effect today for several portions of the state. Conditions will be mostly sunny to partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the late afternoon. Windy and warm conditions are expected with highs reaching the 80’s and 90’s.
A wind advisory is in effect today for portions of southeast Arizona. The rest of the state will experience mostly sunny and breezy conditions with highs reaching 60 in the mountain areas and the lowest deserts getting as high as 100 today.

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