A Sikorsky S-61 helicopter drops water on the 1,145-acre Lazier Creek 3 Fire, Kootenai National Forest near Marion, Montana. Thanks to Fire Behavior Analyst Bruce Giersdorf (MN) for providing this photo.
Originally headed to Montana, crew diverts to North Dakota
A 20-member Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) Type-2 initial attack crew, led by crew boss Ryan Miller (USFS-SPF) and crew boss trainee Mike Schipper (USFWS-Sherburne NWR), left Grand Rapids Saturday evening, July 8. Originally headed for Montana, they were re-assigned to the Magpie Fire at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
A third Type-2 initial attack crew, led by Bill Alleman (VOP) and Zach Saumer (SUF), left Grand Rapids yesterday afternoon for Great Falls, Montana. A significant rise in temperature and lack of rainfall over the last week has led to more wildfires throughout the western states. Nationally, the planning level remains at 3.
Orders are being filled at MIFC with about one hundred people from Minnesota now on assignment in Arizona, California, Georgia, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, Utah, and Montana. A fourth crew order is currently being filled with special need for ICT-5s and sawyers. Contact MIFC Dispatch for more information.
Second interagency crew mobilized
A second Type-2 initial attack crew, led by Casey Goldsmith (USFS-CPF) and Karl Gaalaas (DNR), left the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) for Albuquerque, NM today.
Hot and dry conditions have increased wildfire potential in the Southwest Coordination Center (SWCC) region. At planning level four, there are 23 large incidents in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (interactive incident map).
Western wildfire season is ramping up. The National Interagency Fire Center seven-day outlook shows an uptick in wildfire potential through the holiday weekend. Minnesota now has two 20-member crews and two 10-person engine modules on western fires. Yesterday, a seven-person helicopter module left for Wenatchee, WA. Approximately 80 MNICS personnel are on assignment in seven different states including Arizona, California, Georgia, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia and Utah.
When a MIFC crew mobilizes, the Northeast Interagency Cache assembles a kit of chainsaws, chaps, batteries, coolers, an MRE supply, gas cans, fire tools, an assortment of tape and flagging materials plus barn chain oil. Not to exceed 65-pounds, a crew member pack contains a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, protective equipment and personal items.
Into Arizona heat, forests and wildfires
A 20-member Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) Type-2 initial attack crew, led by crew bosses Ryan Halvorson (USFS-CPF) and Jeremy Pace (USFS-SPF), left Grand Rapids this morning for a 14-day regional support assignment in Mesa, Arizona. They are headed toward 21 active wildfires and triple-digit temperatures.
Plenty! MNICS members are on the move
This week about 20 Minnesota Incident Command System members participated in public health preparedness training with instructors from the CDC’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). Read More »
DNR Forestry Division program helps small communities
Contact: Casey McCoy, DNR Forestry southern region fire specialist, 507-359-6048; Tim Oland, DNR rural fire programs coordinator, 218-322-2688; Dale Johnson III, Tracy Fire Department chief, 507-829-4040
Firefighters in Tracy are a little better equipped to fight fires, thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources rural fire department program. The DNR rural fire program helped the small volunteer fire department acquire military surplus equipment, saving the Tracy Fire Department hundreds of thousands of dollars.
MNICS crew leaders look ahead to summer wildfire season
Nearly 45 Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) Type-2 initial attack crew members and facilitators met at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center (MIFC) on Wednesday (05.31.17) to train, participate in field exercises and establish crew cohesion before heading to national wildfires. Read More »
Sparse precipitation creates abnormally dry conditions
Spring wildfire season is essentially over except for northwestern Minnesota that remains abnormally dry. A U.S. Drought Monitor map shows lack of precipitation in that region compared to the rest of the state. Wildfires can start easily in northwestern Minnesota and spread at a higher rate. Minnesotans are asked to be careful with campfires and outdoor recreation this Memorial Weekend.
During spring 2016, all three Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) teams were mobilized to wildfires, mainly in the Arrowhead. So far this year, there have been no team assignments. However MNICS Team A is gearing up for the 2017 Wildfire Academy, June 5-9 at Itasca Community College. About 700 participants will attend with some 100 instructors in courses from water pumps to air operations.
As of May 26, a total of 801 wildfires have occurred for less than 2,500 acres burned. The last aircraft request was May 20th for a total of 111 aviation dispatch requests to 63 wildfires during spring wildfire season. At its peak, when wildfire probability is highest, MNICS agencies have as many as 25 aircraft on call in the state. Next week three contract aircraft will remain along with the existing state and federal fleet aircraft.
Fewer wildfires meant less suppression but more prevention activity through prescribed fire. So far in 2017, MNICS agencies conducted 443 prescribed burns for 71,654 acres.
Issued early in May by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the summer wildfire outlook shows increased wildfire potential in the southwestern U.S., Florida and southern Georgia where conditions remain very dry. Yesterday the national planning level was raised to two (2).
Incidents such as the West Mims Fire in Georgia, which has burned 235 square miles, or the 47,000-acre Saw Mill Fire in Arizona, have contributed to twice the average number of acres burned, more than two million acres so far this year. However, NIFC predicts that the western wildfire season may start later due to abundant winter snowpack and late spring precipitation.
Meanwhile in Minnesota
As of May 16, 2017 Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) agencies report 461 wildfires for 2,263 total acres burned. That is 51 percent fewer wildfires than at this time last year. With less suppression activity, agencies have conducted 434 prescribed fires for 68,091 acres nearly doubling prescribed fires done by this time last year. Read More »
The U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA declare May 7 to 13, 2017 as Arson Awareness Week
In Minnesota from 2007-2016, there were 234 intentional wildfires set burning more than 14,000 acres*. It’s a crime in Minnesota to intentionally destroy or damage property, homes or land. Wildland arson is a felony and punishable up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine or both. Convicted arsonists may be liable for property loss and fire suppression costs.
Wildlfire arson cases can be difficult for investigation teams to solve because often they occur in remote areas. Call 1/800-723-2020 if you see someone setting an intentional fire. You may be eligible for a $5,000 reward leading to the arrest of persons involved in arson. Arson caused wildfires needlessly endanger firefighters, not to mention the public. Join the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s office today (05.10.17) at noon for a live Facebook chat to talk about the Minnesota Arson Hotline and how information from the public plays a critical role in arson investigations.
*reported to the state
Prevention also reduces wildfires
“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” When comparing Minnesota’s spring wildfire season this year to last, Mark Twain may have had it right.
Bringing emergency partners together at Under One Roof event in Duluth
The Arrowhead Region Emergency Management Association (AREMA), Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) are partnering with Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) members for a sold-out table top exercise at Under One Roof, May 16 in Duluth.
A diverse group of 127 registrants – doctors, emergency managers, county officials – will participate in a ‘Ring of Fire’ exercise to learn what to do in the event of a catastrophic wildfire. HSEM sponsored the 9 to 11 a.m. exercise and AREMA and MNICS instructors have prepared the scenario based on the Bastrop County Complex Fire, one of the most destructive wildfires in Texas history occurring in 2011 that killed two people, destroyed 1,673 homes and caused $325 million in damage.
MNICS agency members have priority registration until April 28
Online registration for the 2017 Wildfire Academy, June 5-9, 2017, Itasca Community College is now open. MNICS agency members have priority registration. Mission Centered Solutions guest speaker Mark Smith is featured on June 7. Check the brochure for 31 courses including basic firefighter and air operations, aircraft dispatcher, introduction to incident information (S-203), crew boss, firing operations and more. Classes fill quickly and a $50 late fee applies for registrations after May 16. Questions? Contact Advanced Minnesota at 218/749-7731.