Forest Fires in the United States: 23 December 1999

Forest Fires in the United States

23 December 1999

Several active fire signals were recorded by OSEI with the NOAA-14 POES AVHRR HRPT satellite on 22 Dezember 1999 in southern California.

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Fig. 1. and 2. Smoke drifts from fires in Ventura County, California offshore over the Pacific Ocean. The smoke is difficult to see because clouds are present in the area. The right image shows scattered heat signatures and smoke from areas of fire burning in southern California near Santa Barbara and Ventura and north of Los Angeles. These fires have been difficult to control because of the Santa Ana winds. More than 1,000 ha have burned in these areas. Some evacuations have been necessary.
(Source: NOAA

Erratic winds and steep terrain is making it difficult for firefighters to control a series of wildfires burning in Southern California. The largest is near Ojai on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest where more than 1,200 ha have been scorched since early Wednesday. One house and one barn were destroyed. Fire officials are hoping for containment. A second fire burning in Ventura County has consumed about 120 ha and is 95 percent contained. In Los Angeles county, firefighters extinguish hot spots in the Rafael fire in Glendale. More than 500 firefighters aided by planes scooping up water from the Pacific Ocean struggled to bring a raging brush fire under control Wednesday after it threatened million-dollar homes in the Los Angeles suburbs. The cause of the blaze, which burned more than 300 ha was not immediately known. During the night, helicopters continued to drop water on the flames, which one official said was unusual and involved pilots flying in darkness in an area crisscrossed by high-voltage power lines. Fire officials are hoping for full containment today, 23 December 1999. No homes were damaged but the historic Glendale police department firing range was destroyed.

Fig. 3. Flames race across the hill and brush country south of the Verdugo Hill Hospital, foreground, in Glendale, California., about 10 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, late Tuesday evening, 21 December 1999. The inferno leaped the Glendale Freeway consuming nearly more than 300 ha in a matter of hours (AP Photo/Mike Meadows).

Fig. 4. This aerial photo shows smoke fanning from fires atop the hills of Carpenteria (bottom) and Ojai (top), Wednesday, 22 December 1999. A 1,200 ha blaze destroyed two homes in Ojai and a separate 120 ha blaze 10-miles-away raged untamed. Up to 200 people fled the wind-whipped flames (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian).

Fig. 5. Camp crews work to remove brush from threatening fires on a hillside in Glendale, California, Wednesday 22 December 1999. About 500 firefighters supported by water-dropping airplanes and helicopters, battled a wind-driven brush fire that broke out in La Canada Flintridge and Glendale. The blaze has burned about 240 ha and no injuries have been reported (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho).

Fig. 6. A firefighter watches as a helicopter makes a water drop on a hilltop in Glendale, California, Wednesday 22 December 1999. Approximately 500 firefighters supported by water-dropping airplanes and helicopters battled a wind-driven brush fire that broke out in La Canada Flintridge and Glendale (AP Photo/Victoria Arocho).

Fig. 7. An airplane dispenses water over a nearly extinguished hillside in La Canada Flintridge. About 500 firefighters supported by water-dropping airplanes and helicopters Wednesday battled a wind-driven brush fire that broke out in La Canada and Glendale (AP Photo/Kevork

Note: The five color picture documentation above are sources from the Associated Press. The GFMC would like to point out here, that it is not permitted to publish or otherwise use photographs produced by Associated Press without any written permission.

The Wildland Fire Assessment System is a contribution of “The Fire Behavior Research Work Unit”, Missoula (Montana USA) and submits a fire danger map, where the fire danger for the United States is forecasted.

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Fig. 8. Fire Danger Forecast Map for 23 December 1999
(Source: Fire Behavior Research Work Unit, Missoula)

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports its Wildland Fire Update every Friday unless significant activity occurs.

A Four-Year Wildland Fire Comparison Statistic shows the number and the area of wildland fires from 1996 to 1999.

Tab. 1. Wildland Fire Comparison Statistic of the last four years (Source: NIFC)

As of 17 Dec. 1999 Number of Wildland Fires Number of hectares 1999 93,204 2,288,291 1998 75,913 922,101 1997 64,943 1,148,671 1996 94,407 2,431,614

The preliminary summary report of the National Interagency Fire Center provides also a map of the Top Ten Largest Fires in the current fire season 1999. This summary will be further updated with a final 1999 season report by the end of this year.

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